Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP): Week 11 (April 30th, 2016)

Rain, rain, go away…. you’re soaking our plants TOO much. Yep, too much rain can be as bad as not enough. If you’ve got clay soil at home and haven’t amended it much, it will get soaking wet and take a very long time to dry out. Leaves turn yellow or light green, start to look wilted and, under the soil, the roots are rotting. Of course, when it’s US that are overwatering, we can adjust that. But when it’s Mother Nature….we can’t control when and how much it rains. Our San Antonio weather is very challenging because we seem to go from very dry to very wet weather. Some of the practices we follow in the CVGP can help during rainy times:

  • Don’t plant too closely together, and prune back plants that are overshading/too close to eachother. Good air circulation will promote drying and reduce the risk of fungal and bacterial diseases. If you look at our agendas (click on the Agenda top near the top of this page) we provide info on how far apart we space our plants when we plant them. This info will also be on your seed packet or the information tag on your transplant.
  • Remove yellowed or brown (dead) leaves from the plant and the ground. Again, it reduces the disease risk.
  • If you’ve got caliche, heavy clay, or only a bit of soil before you hit rock, build a raised bed. The water will drain away from the plants (with the use of good soil.)
  • Amend clay soil to improve drainage. Click here for a short agriLIFE Extension article on soil preparation.  (One of the authors, Dr. Masnabi, taught a master gardener specialist class on vegetable gardening which I took. It was a great class!)
  • Absolutely no walking or stepping in the garden beds—this compacts the soil.
  • If you have a REALLY diseased or very buggy plant and it has not reacted to the appropriate treatment, be brave and yank it out. I know you don’t want to—especially if it’s about to bear–but it’s best for the rest of the plants.

Let’s have a look at how the plants are doing! This week, in our section of the CVGP, our gardeners have harvested cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, basil, and some banana peppers.

s16w11.harvesting

s16w11.squash

s16w11.cherryTomatoesWe are picking the cherry tomatoes as soon as they blush pink to prevent the birds from getting to them. Because we are only here once a week, we pick a little earlier than we might in a home garden that we see daily. The squash, for example, will be HUGE (and full of seeds) if we leave them for another week. You can see some bug damage on the squash, but our gardeners are squishing any bugs they find and the plants are producing very well, like squash do. (If you’re growing them at home, bet you have a great crop too!)   Let’s take a closer look at a squash leaf, though…you can see the mottling that is caused by a virus spread by the beetles we’re busy squishing. It is not affecting the fruit at the moment; the plants are still very strong.  (You can click on these pics to see a slightly larger version.)

Some of the banana peppers are going home, and we continue to pinch back the basil to encourage it to grow and take the tops home too. They can be eaten or rooted in water to make a new plant.

The bell peppers are still small, the eggplant are flowering, and the jalapenos are still a bit too small to pick, as are the Tycoon tomatoes, which are doing really well:

s16w11.tycoon.tomato

Some of the green bean plants have tiny beans, and they are flowering to produce more. Next week, you’ll be surprised at the beans.

By the way, as our gardeners pick up dead leaves, etc, they go into wheelbarrows or buckets. This one is full of leaves from harvesting broccoli or removing leaves that were shading other plants:

s16w11.wheelbarrow

They go into our compost pile:

s16w11.compost.pile

The blackberry patch, also is doing very nicely…the berries are just starting to get some color, and the netting is keeping the birds away. We’re growing Natchez, a thornless Texas Superstar variety. (If anyo of you are growing thorny blackberries, like me, you’ll appreciate a thornless variety!

s16w11.blackberry

At the end of our day:

s16w11..endOfDay1

(The short green area to the left of the tomato cage are the potatoes. Almost ready to start checking for potatoes…)

s16w11.endOfDay2

(The green to the left of the cucumber trellis and the cole crops are the green bean patch, and that pop of red at the end are Whopper Begonias.)

Want to read all the instructions for what we did today?  Click here to read today’s agenda.

Until next time,

Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners

Bonus Picture:  The yucca in the Botanical Garden right by the CVG looks beautiful and, as  I was taking picture of it, a mockingbird landed on the tip of the tallest one.  Probably wishing he could get at those blackberries….

s16w11.yucca

Version 2

 

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