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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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

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