Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP): Week 12 (May 7 , 2016)

Hi!  I have good news and bad news. The bad news … remember last blog post I mentioned that sometimes it is better to remove plants that are still producing but have a bug problem or disease that was affecting other plants? I wasn’t hoping to have an example quite so quickly, but our broccoli had to go. When we harvested the main broccoli head a couple of weeks ago, we left the plants in place because they will produce multiple side shoots to be harvested. Well, it was acting as a host for harlequin bugs which were spreading to the other plants. In the picture below you can see the insect damage as well as the side shoots. The dark spot in the center is where the central broccoli head was removed a couple of weeks ago. There’s also a harlequin beetle hiding in picture, mostly covered by a leaf.

s16w12.broccoli.byebye

Let’s have a closer look at a harlequin bug:

s16w12.harlequin

The gardeners disposed of all the bugs that they could find, harvested the developed side shoots, and removed the broccoli plants. Goodbye broccoli; we’ll miss you.

One of the garden beds also lost their cucumber: you can see it wilted in the pic below:

s16w12.cukeDead

 

This one was a bit of a puzzle. There were no immediate signs of bugs, disease, or anything traumatic enough to destroy the plant, so it was removed and several master gardeners looked it over.  Right above the ground, at the bottom of the stem, it had bent enough that while it had not snapped through, was damaged enough to kill the plant.

 

The good news: we harvested potatoes! You can tell when the potatoes are ready to harvest because the plant leaves will start to yellow or you may see potatoes if you gently move some of the surface soil away with your fingers. Here, two of our gardeners have discovered their first potato which they have carefully uncovered:

s16w12.LookPotato

Sometimes, potatoes will grow in unusual shapes. This gardener was happy to find one that looked like a duck!:

s16w12.DuckShapedPotatoSquare

Enjoy some more of our harvesting pictures:

s16w12.earthwormSquare

 

 

While we were harvesting our potatoes, we were happy to see several earthworms in the soil. Click here to read more about earthworms and why they are beneficial, and here if you are interested in growing your own earthworms.

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s16w12.harvestCabbage

 

We also harvested at least one of the cabbages in each plot. Next week is our Vegetable Contest, Picnic, and Recognition Ceremony, and our gardeners are saving what will be their best produce for that.  In the picture below, the gardener has harvested a cabbage head and is removing the outer leaves.  These leaves are damaged from storms and bugs and he will add them to our compost pile.

The tomatoes continue to do well….we are picking the cherry tomatoes each week, and the larger Tycoon tomatoes continue to grow.

In the first pic below, the gardener is showing us how early we pick some of the cherry tomatoes…this one is getting lighter with a blush starting at the bottom. The second picture shows what happens if we leave them on to ripen more….birds or other animals will start to nibble on them…see the peck mark on the leftmost tomato?

Any picked tomatoes that still need to ripen a bit can be either left to ripen naturally, or placed in a paper bag with an apple, banana, or ripe tomato. These fruit release ethylene gas which speed up ripening.

I told you last time that you’d be surprised at the change in the beans over a week…have a look! The pile in the picture on the right all came from one garden bed, and there will be a lot more next week too.

Consider growing green beans in your own garden if you are not already…they easy to grow and the flavor and crispness of a just picked green bean is really good.  It’s also fun to try to find the beans…they blend in so well, it can take a couple of passes to find them all.  No matter how carefully you look, there’s always more to be found!

I could go on and on with harvest pictures, but I think you get the idea that we and our gardeners are very happy that their hard work has paid off with a great harvest. Everyone seemed to have the most fun with the potatoes, green beans, and cherry tomatoes, but sweet banana peppers, jalapeño peppers, and bell peppers also went home with our gardeners.

Before I close, I would like to mention that at the Junior Master Gardener activity, John Henry came and talked about Purple Martins. The kids were fascinated as he lowered one of the houses and even removed one of the nest boxes briefly let them have a peek inside at the young martins.

s16w12.PurpleMartins2

Want a peek inside a nest box too? I took a picture to share with you:

s16w12.PurpleMartins3

They were kept carefully shaded from the sun, and were only out for a short period of time.

Our end of day pictures:

s16w12.EndOfDay3

s16w12.EndOfDay2

Until next time,

Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners

Bonus Picture:

Remember the corn picture I posted about 3 weeks back when it was about 1 ½ ft tall? Look at it now! I asked some of our gardening family members to stand with the corn so you could get an idea of the size:

s16w12.corn

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