Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP): Week 16 (June 4, 2016)

Week 16 was the final week of another successful spring Children’s Vegetable Garden season, just in time with the warmer temperatures arriving. It was a busy last day. Those of you with home vegetable gardens will still be harvesting for a few weeks, but we needed to remove the plants and clear the plots so they will be ready for the fall session. It was tough to remove a gorgeous Tycoon tomato plant or a banana pepper still producing, but everything was harvested before the plants were removed:

There was still a lot to harvest. Those of you with home gardens are still letting your plants produce, but we had to clear everything out since our program was ending. So our gardeners were busy harvesting and then removing the plants….

It was a true community garden effort, wheelbarrows going back and forth as we added the plant material to the compost pile.

The wheelbarrows got a LOT Of use today.

s16w16.wheelbarrows2

The harvest was mainly tomatoes, peppers, japanese eggplant, and some very large cucumbers…

Last week I suggested googling recipes for cherry tomatoes.  This week it’s recipes for green tomatoes we need to google, and there are a lot of recipes to choose from.  They will not go to waste!

This family had an easy way to get their harvest to the car:

s16w16.harvesters1a

Let’s have a peek inside their garden trolly:

Some of the gardeners opted to take their Alternanthera home with them, and from the lovely color, I can see why. The magenta color is on the underside of the leaves, the purple and green are the tops. This is a bit wilted from being dug up but should perk up once it is replanted.

s16w16.harvest8

We also started adding mulch to some of the common areas of the garden…mentors, gardeners, family, *and* some volunteers from UTSA all worked together on this effort.

s16w16.groupEffort

All of our gardeners were asked to keep a garden journal of what they did. This gardener did a GREAT job with her journal, starting with a custom cover:

s16w16.gardenJournal1

She included including drawings and even the plot layout.

s16w16.gardenjournal0

Her mom printed out the agendas in reduced format to fit the sleeves of the small binder, and the gardener added her notes each session. (Remember you can click on any image to see it larger.)

At the end of the garden, beyond the fence but still in the Botanical Garden, is a HUGE fig tree. If you like figs and have room for one in your yard, they are very easy to grow and produce like crazy. Look at all the figs growing on this small section of the tree, some o them blending in with the leaves:

s16w16.fig

If you want to grow one in a home setting I’d suggest perhaps not letting it get two stories high…it’s hard to harvest that way. There used to be one in my yard that previous owners had pruned so it was about 8’ high but about 10’ wide, so you could walk in among the branches and harvest. The taller branches could be pulled down to harvest, or a small stepstool used. One thing about figs though, is that you’ve got to stay on top of the harvest. If some of the figs end up on the ground for a bit ferment, you’ll have drunken grackles wobbling around your yard. (I speak from experience….)

So, what’s next? Signup for the next season – the Fall Children’s Vegetable Garden – has started and you can get info on that on this page at Botanical Gardens website. It reviews the program and at the bottom there is a link (the very last line) to click on to register. If you are planning a fall vegetable garden in your own backyard, you can get a list of recommended varieties for our area and when to plant them by clicking here.

In fact, you might want to look at ALL the lists on this page from our local Bexar County Texas A&M AgriLife Extension website and see other recommended plants for our area.

End of Day pictures… There are still plants in the test/common beds. Isn’t the color of this coleus gorgeous (first pic)? And the sage has been let to bloom all spring and lovely. I think I will get one from my local nursery to add to my flower garden.

The gardener’s beds are ready for the Fall CVGP…come join us!

s16w16.endOfDay3

Regards,

Lyn

Lyn Komada,  Bexar County Master Gardeners

BONUS PICTURE:

If you’re very observant, there’s all sorts of things to see at the Botanical Gardens. Right beyond the back fence of the CVGP (next to the huge fig tree) there is a tree with tiny peaches on it, and a hungry squirrel. Then, up on the hill overlooking the CVGP, there is a bench to sit on, occupied for a bit by a…turkey? OK, maybe you didn’t have to be very observant to notice the turkey…he was pretty big!

 

 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP): Week 15 (May 28 , 2016)

s16w15.introPicture

Tomatoes and critters…this picture unfortunately shows you why we pick our tomatoes when they are starting to blush. The good news is that because we do that, we have fewer half-eaten vegetables to throw out.

s16w15.eatenTomato

 

s16w15.tomatoesCatfaced

Here’s an interesting photo…this is a closeup of 4 tomatoes that were put in a wheelbarrow intended for the compost pile. Can you guess what I want to talk about?These two tomatoes at the bottom have what is called catfacing: deformed, incurved areas which may include scarring. Although they are misshapen, this area can be cut around, and the rest of the tomato is edible. The other two, though, were composted. Click here for a good short article about tomato problems with some really good pictures from the University of Minnesota Extension.

s16w14.dolphinEggplant

Not all misshapen veggies are problems, though. We thought this Japanese eggplant was rather cute and looked like a porpoise. Of course, that was after we’d harvested a large number of cherry tomatoes, so probably ANYTHING that wasn’t a cherry tomato would look cute. How many cherry tomatoes, you ask?  LOTS!

s16w15.harvestC

Something to consider: we only have one cherry tomato plant per plot…think of that when you think about planting an entire tomato 6 pack in your yard…share some plants with friends!  By now, you are probably wondering what we are doing with all the cherry tomatoes we are picking.  We’re wondering the same thing.  An easy search on ‘cherry tomato recipes’ luckily provides a lot of options. There was one idea I saw on several sites that particularly liked: roasting them in the oven and freezing them for future use in other dishes or to make sauces. I like the flexibility of having oven roasted tomatoes in the freezer. If you are interested, the general idea of the recipe was to:

  • Toss washed and dried cherry tomatoes with a small amount of olive oil
  • Put them, single layer, on a baking pan (line with foil for easy cleanup later)
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper
  • Bake (recipes I saw ranged from 350-400 degrees) until the tomatoes start to deflate but not burn (I saw times estimated from 20-45 min)
  • Freeze, single layer, in freezer bags, and use as needed.

Let’s have a look at the cucumbers and squash. Although our gardeners were keeping up with their harvesting, the growth rate with all the rain and the warm temperatures is nothing short of amazing. These cucumbers went from tiny to huge in a week:

And now, a lovely picture of powdery mildew on a squash leaf….

s16w15.yellowSquashMildew

Those are words not usually seen in the same sentence, but it is a nice clear one that lets you see that it really does look powdery. Seeing as it is so close to the end of the season for us, we removed the plant, but we could have removed the affected leaves and tried a fungicide if we wanted to try and save the plant. The tradeoff there is that it might spread to other plants the longer the infected plant remains. If you’d like to read some good squash Q&A, including how to treat powdery mildew, click here for a good article on our own Aggie Horticulture site.

Not all squash plants were having problems…this one has moved over into the walkway and has some squash ready to pick.

s16w15.travelingSquash

Yes, we were very busy again this week with harvesting…

s16w15.harvesters1

The green bean plants were removed because they were no longer producing. It was much easier to find the remaining beans after the plants were cut at the base and removed from the plots: s16w15.harvesters2

Some harvest pictures to hopefully inspire you to consider a small vegetable garden, if you don’t have one:

Corn? OK, I snuck that picture in to see if you were still reading. Well, the gardeners aren’t growing corn in their plots, but there is a small area where corn is growing at the vegetable garden. This week, in fact, one of the chores was to dirt up the corn (mound up dirt around the base of the plants) which are getting top heavy as the ears of corn develop. Yes, there is a person in the picture below of our mini cornfield.

s16w15.cornPlot

Let’s have a quick look at how our non-vegetable plants are doing too…

The green and purple leaves of the Alternanthera look great together..the moss rose continues to bloom profusely (deadheading helps)…look at the size of those Whopper begonia flowers compared to my hand.. the artichokes that were left to flower are gorgeous.  Ummm…one of the plots had a mystery marigold come up and the section leads decided to leave it there. I’m glad they did…it’s been full of cheerful flowers.

If you read the summary of what we did today up in our top picture, you’ll notice that we are still doing the routine tasks of weeding, deadheading flowers, and hand watering where a little extra water is needed. I just didn’t start out the blog with it because I figured you’ve got that part memorized by now.  🙂

End of Day pictures…the beds are emptying out a little as we continue to remove the plants that are no longer producing.

Next week is our last week this season….

Talk to you then,

Lyn

Lyn Komada, Bexar County Master Gardeners

BONUS PICTURE!

This cactus is right across from us and the flowers were gorgeous. I will never have a garden large enough for all of the plants that I see and want to grow.

s16w15.bonusCactus

Just in case you were thinking of looking for one too, keep in mind that it’s a bit too large for a windowsill:

s16w15.bonusCactus2