Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 5, March 18th, 2017

With the first day of Spring just two days away, the childrens veggie garden is really kicking into full gear now! Just look at all that foliage! Today we planted 1 ‘TAM’ Mild Jalapeno and 4 ‘Carpet’ Petunias.

In addition to the more mild taste, this jalapeno is particularly virus resistant, an important trait for a pepper in South Texas since viruses have been a major problem historically in this region.  Click here to read more!

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Above you can see the Bexar County Master Gardeners and other volunteers in their pre-gardening meeting, discussing the agenda and planting strategies. Here, volunteer Mary Cross discusses the benefits of planting petunias in the garden! After a bit of research, she compiled a document for the kids so they can underdstand why it is beneficial to sometimes place flowering plants in relation to vegetables in the garden. Click Petunias as pest control (1) to see what Mary came up with!

Have ya’ll seen the great big compost pile we have out here? Above you can see just how much we have by scaling it to our lovely volunteers! They are scooping up compost and then sifting any unwanted mulch or rock material so we can use it on our potatoes!

Interested in learning more about compost? Click here to read Texas A&Ms’ Earth Kind Landscaping page about how to set one up and use it successfully!

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After scratching the soil no closer than 6 inches away from anything that has been planted, we added compost to our potatoes.While one person holds the dense leaves of our potatoes back, the other person gently pours and tamps the compost along the length of the entire potato plot so the compost rises 3 inches vertically from the soil line. This practice further encourages the root systems to grow!

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We then pulled up the Nsulate covers on our tomatoes to make sure they could breathe and also checked to make sure their stakes were set correctly. This means that each stake is set at the corner of the lowest wring. We also checked for cabbage loopers and roly pollies on our plants!

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We then measured out the space for our ‘TAM’ Mild Jalapeno and two of the ‘Carpet’ Petunias. This space is located between the middle divider and the outer cucumber trellis lip. We measured halfway across the width of the plot (about 22 inches) to place the bamboo stick for the ‘TAM’ Mild Jalapeno. Then we measured about 8 inches from the side board on both sides, resulting in three bamboo markers as seen above.

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We made sure the ‘TAM’ Mild Jalapeno transplants were well watered and then set to digging a hole about 4 inches deep, enough so that it was wide and deep enough so that the peat pot will not show after watering. Then we dusted the hole with about 1/4 cup of rock phosphate, lowered our transplants in and covered the top of the peat pot. We finished it off by placing the trellis and watering.

On to the ‘Carpet’ Petunias! We then dug a hole about 4-5 inches deep for the other two bamboo markers next to the TAM’ Mild Jalapeno. We were very careful about the depth because if the hole is too deep, the plant could rot. We made sure the petunias were watered, lowered them in gently and tamped the soil around them.

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We then planted the last 2 ‘Carpet’ Petunias between the two ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli plants. Like the other two petunias, we measured 8 inches width-wise from either side of the bed and repeated the planting process from the first two petunias.

We finished up using Hasta Gro on all of our green plants. We mixed 1 oz of Hast Gro for each gallon. Each plot got a full gallon to use on all of their green plants.

Join us next week for our bean planting!

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 4, March 11th, 2017

Here at the SABOT Children’s Veggie Garden we are lifetime learners, always curious about new plants and how to better improve our gardens! Below, a garden volunteer presents the agenda for planting our BHN 968 ‘Dwarf Cherry Surprise’ Tomato. It is also a Texas Superstar Plant! Click here to learn more about their extraordinarily sweet taste and other traits!

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Before the tomato planting, Master Gardener John Maldonado demonstrates how to check the plants for pests! This week we are checking our cole crop plants for those pesky Cabbage Loopers and making sure there are no roly pollies on our potatoes. Our program considers more than 3 rolly pollies on any one plant an infestation.

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On to the planting! First, we made sure to lift up the N-sulate covering of our ‘Tycoon’ Tomato transplant from last week in order to let the tomato plant breathe a little.

Then we set to work on our BHN 968 ‘Dwarf Cherry Surprise’ Tomato plot by fertilizing the area of the plot inside the tomato cage with 1 cup of Ladybug Organic Fertilizer, scratching it into the soil and making sure the soil is nice and wet. Next we determined the center point inside the tomato cage and marked it with a bamboo stick.

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After removing the stakes and setting the cage aside, we dug a hole as deep as and slightly wider than the container of the BHN 968 ‘Dwarf Cherry Surprise’ Tomato (smaller than the ‘Tycoon’ Tomato from last week) just so that the root system is either even with the soil line or about 1 inch above. We dusted the base and sides of the hole with about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of rock phosphate.

After filling in the hole, we checked that none of the roots were showing but also avoided crowning too much soil around the stem. We shaped the soil into a well developed berm (circular ring) about 12 inches away from the stem of the plant to retain water and nutrients in the surrounding soil.

After applying 1 cup of Ladybug Organic Fertilizer just inside the berm of her ‘Tycoon’ Tomato plant,’ this miniature master gardener waters both her tomato plants. We watered but only a teensy bit since the rain was already getting our soil nice and saturated!

One of our dutiful volunteers, Esther, mixed 1 oz of Hasta Gro per 1 gallon of water. Here she divvies up the liquid fertilizer so that each plot will use a total of 1/2 gallon of Hasta Gro mixed with water on all of their green plants.

We also reclosed the Nsulate covers on our Tycoon Tomatoes, making sure to provide added security with black clips since clothespins can come loose in a strong wind.

Take a look at the leaves of the Red Salsa’ Salvia we planted last week in the picture to the left. The reason for the yellow striped color on the leaves is due to the chilly night time temperatures. As we progress more into springtime and the evening temperatures rise, we will not see this yellow striped color on the leaves as much.

In the photo on the right, you can see a tiny yellow blossom on on of the Texas Superstar ‘Tycoon’ Tomato transplants from last week. This blossom is where the tomato will eventually present itself.

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GUESS WHAT?!? SABOT veggie garden just got more helping hands! Three interns from the current Class 61 Master Gardeners course came out to get their hands dirty. Dr. Parsons came to speak last week to the current master gardener class about vegetable gardening so what better time than now to come out? Thanks Ernest, Vicky and Kelly for helping out our community!

Dr. Parsons also showed the Master Gardeners how to navigate the Plant Answers website. Be sure to check it out to discover new recipes for your veggies, read scholarly articles about horticulture and answer any questions about your garden! Right now it is also featuring an amazing gallery of 2017 Texas Bluebonnets!

 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 3, March 4th, 2017

For Week 3 we had to hurry, hurry hurry to beat out the rain so we hopped to it right quick! First we checked up on our potatoes, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower! Then we got to plant our ‘Tycoon’ Tomato transplant and 4 ‘Red Salsa’ Salvia transplants!

The ‘Tycoon’ Tomato is another Texas Superstar plant! Click here to learn more about it and how it resists certain plant diseases.

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Just two weeks later, the potatoes have already started to sprout foliage out of the ground as you can see on the left above! SO EXCITING! We also checked all of the plants to make sure there were not any pests laying eggs on our plants. The leaf on the right shows circular holes that indicate pests are lurking on the underside of the leaf. We checked all our plants and squished any unwanted insects.

First, we made sure to fertilize the plot under each tomato cage with 1 cup of Lady Bug Organic Fertilizer and that all of the tomato cages in each plot were lined up with eachother. Once we had placed an indicator bamboo stake in the middle of the tomato cage, we then removed the cage to start digging our hole.

Each hole was dug so that it was deep and slightly wider than the container of the tomato plant so that the root system was even with the soil line of the hole. We tested this out by placing the Tycoon’ Tomato transplant in the hole while it was still in the transplant bucket.Then we dusted each hole with a 1/2 cup of soft rock phosphate.

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We had to be very careful after removing the tomato from the bucket, since it has a delicate root system and a long stem.  We filled in any soil between the transplant and the hole, making sure not to pile too much soil on the base of the main stem while ensuring that none of the plant roots were visible. As you can see above, the kids shaped the soil to develop a berm, a ring-like mound circling the plant about 12 inches from the base of the stem. This is meant to keep water and plant nutrition localized around the plant.

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We then watered the plant and used 2-3 stakes to stabilize our tomato cages back into the ground over the tomato plant. For protection againt wind and cold and hail, we use N-Sulate wraps. The opening was oriented south for wind protection and then closed by 3 plastic clips. Each cloth covers the entire height of the tomato cage and is open on the top. .

Want to stay up on your tomato plant? Make sure to check here to read A&M Agrilife’s discussion of why your tomato plant might become unhealthy or show twisting and twirling leaves!

ON TO THE ‘RED SALSA’ SALVIA PLANTS.  We wanted to get our salvia plants the best start possible so we applied compost to the very end of the bed where we wanted to plant. With two plants on either side of our irrigation spigot, we measured 4 inches in from the end of the bed. We then measured 8 inches from the side of the bed and another 8 inches between the first and second Salvia plant. We copied this spacing with the third and fourth plants on the other side of the spigot. REMEMBER: the salvia plants are outside the zone where they can be watered by the irrigation system so we need to be EXTRA CAREFUL about remembering to hand water!

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We then mixed 1 oz of Hasta gro with 1 gallon of water (about half a bucket) and let each child apply 1/2 gallon to their plot. This meant 1 gallon of mixed Hasta Gro (per bucket) was able to work 2 plots. We used this on the tomato, the broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and the salvia, making sure not to get any fertilizer on the leaves of the plants so as to avoid burning the plant.