Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 9, April 15th, 2017

HAPPY EASTER! Today we kept up watering maitenance, pest management, harvested broccoli and released some ladybugs! YAY!

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First, we swept through the gardens and removed any dead leaves, checked for insects and weeded our individual plots. Then we made sure to really water in our plants since it is getting hotter! There should not be any dry patches of light brown soil when we finish. Aren’t our flowers beautiful? The ‘Carpet’ Petunias on the left and the ‘Red Salsa’ Salvias on the right are in full bloom!

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Those ‘Tycoon’ Tomatos sure are getting big! Harvest time is just around the corner.

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Some young gardeners harvest their first veggie of the season! ‘GREEN MAGIC’ BROCCOLI! The broccoli in the uppermost photograph is a great example of a broccoli that should be harvested. We want to harvest before it starts to turn more yellowish in color and the florets start to separate. If you want to use as much of the plant as you can, the leaves can also be used in salads and smoothies!

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After Miss Garza taught the kids about Ladybugs in her ‘Friends and Foes in the Garden’ session and their ability to wipe out aphids in the garden, each section received one bag of ladybugs to share and release into their plots. In the small photo on the right, the kids look up close at all the ladybugs in the classroom. Each child released the ladybugs into their potatoes and then passed the bag down the line to their plot neighbor.

We made sure to water one more time before the Master Gardener volunteers applied Javelin Bt, an insectiside, to the cole crop plants, applying it directly to the leaves rather than in the soil beneath. They mixed 3/4 of a gallon of water with 2 drops of liquid Ivory detergent and then added 1 TBSP of Javelin Bt to the mixture.

 

 

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Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 8, April 8th, 2017

Welp, Week 8 of the veggie garden at SABOT went swimmingly! Today consisted of mostly maintenance and care for ALL THE PLANTS we’ve planted the entire season! The kids also participated in a Junior Master Gardener Presentation covering Milkweed and butterflies by our lovely volunteer educator Miss Jimenez!

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We watered our ‘Red Salsa’ Salvia and our ‘Carpet’ Petunias along with our cole crop plants making sure to check for any dead, bent or yellowing leaves to remove. We also checked for any unwanted insects. Then we mixed 1 oz of John Liquid Mix from Lady Bug Brand Organic Fertilizer Company with 1 gallon of water. Each plot received 1/4 gallon total of the solution to pour over their ‘Red Salsa’ Salvias, ‘TAM’ Mild Jalapenos, ‘Carpet’ Petunias and ‘Sweet Slice’ Cucumbers.

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Here one of our youth gardeners fertilizes his ‘Sweet Slice’ Cucumber. He also made sure that the potatoes were not impeding the growth of his cucumber. If so, we can gently tie a string across the side of the potatoes next to the cucumber to direct the growth away.

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WOW! Our ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli has developed a broccoli head! We removed any yellow or bent leaves off of ALL the cole crop plants: ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli, ‘Cheers’ Head Cabbage and ‘Snow Crown’ Cauliflower. We also made sure that the broccoli was not encroaching on the growth of the ‘Carpet’ Petunias.

BUG CHECK! The above two pictures are examples of a DETRIMENAL BUG versus a BENEFICIAL BUG! On the left, we see a Cabbage Looper who finds the leaves of this Cauliflower plant DELICIOUS hence all the holes. Unfortunately, it is hurting the plant and the only way to deal with the situation at this point is mechanical treatment. This is also known as squishing the bug!

On the right, you can see very fine strands attached to eggs hanging off of the trellis of one of our tomatoes. These eggs belong to a Green Lacewing Bug which help in the garden because they are particularly aggressive predators in their larval stage.  In fact, they are nicknamed ‘Aphid Lions’ for their fondness of aphids. They also eat thrips, mealybugs, immature whiteflies and small caterpillars.

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We lifted the Nsulate covers to allow our tomatoes to breathe. As they grow the stems can poke out horizontally from the cage and impede their own growth so we made sure to rearrange any loose stems and tuck them into the cage so they are growing up with support! We used HEB bags as ties for any stems that we could not tuck. We fertilized each tomato plant with 1 cup of organic granulate fertilizer, scratched it into the soil and then watered it in.

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We checked our numbers for the Bush Beans and the Yellow Squash, making sure there were a total of 45 plants for the Bush Beans and a total of 3 plants for the Yellow Squash. We re-seeded any missing plants, making sure that none of them were sticking up above the soil line after watering.

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We started to close out the day by applying a little bit of Javelin Bt on ALL the cole crop plants. We mixed 3/4 of a gallon of water with 2 drops of liquid Ivory detergent and then added 1 TBSP of Javelin Bt while swirling the watering can a little for a better mixture. Each plot got about 3/4 of a gallon total for their ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli, ‘Cheers’ Head Cabbage and ‘Snow Crown’ Cauliflower.

Our Junior Master Gardener educational session was a hit! Miss Jimenez talked about the life cycle of butterflies as well as about Milkweed, a plant that attracts and sustains butterflies. This is espcially important for citizens of San Antonio to learn about since our great city is an official sanctuary city for Monarch Butterflies!

Our city is covered in the golden orange beauty of monarchs every fall because they are migrating south towards their winter habitat in Mexico. Monarchs also play an important role in the rich hispanic cultural practice of Dia de los Muertos, celebrated by many in the city every October as the monarchs fly south. The butterflies are thought to be the souls of dearly departed loved ones!

Click here to learn more about our unique role as a city in the migratory path of the butterflies.

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We had a couple more Trinity University students come out today to help in the garden! Thank you for your service and all that you do for our community!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 7, April 1st, 2017

On a misty, overcast April Fool’s Day our young gardener’s prevailed by tending to their eclectic veggie garden and planting a new ‘Sweet Slice’ Cucumber.

While some cucumbers are grown for pickling, the cucumbers we planted today are meant to be ‘sliced,’ hence their name. Click here to learn more from Texas A&M Agrilife about how to care for your cucumbers.

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First, we checked our previous plantings, looking for roly-polies and caterpillars that might be damaging some of our plants. This mother-son duo carefully check their cole crop plants for any signs of insect damage.

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Next we checked our plots to see if any of the Yellow Squash or Bush Beans have popped up through the soil. We counted to see if all 3 squash seeds had grown and if all 45 beans seeds had grown. As you can see above, there are a few little empty spaces in these lines of beans. Any missing seeds will be recounted and replaced next week.

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Since the ‘Red Salsa’ Salvia plants are not watered by the irrigation system, it was really important that we hand water all of them meticulously! Then we set out to fertilize them with 1/4 gallon of a liquid mix from Lady Bug Brand Organic Fertilizer. We did this by mixing 1 oz of liquid fertilizer per gallon of water and divvying up the fertilizing cans so each plot got the 1/4 gallon for their ‘Red Salsa’ Salvias, ‘TAM’ Mild Jalapenos and ‘Carpet’ Petunias as well as for our ‘Sweet Slice’ Cucumbers once they are planted.

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 We then fertilized in and around our ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli, ‘Cheers’ Head Cabbage and ‘Snow Crown’ Cauliflower using 1 cup of organic granulated fertilizer. We made sure to stay at least 6 inches away from the stem of any of the plants.

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We pulled up the Nsulate covers on the ‘Tycoon’ and ‘BHN 968 Tomatoes in order to let them breathe and carefully situated all of the stems so that any wild ones were gently tucked back into the cage. We made sure to be extra careful so as not to damage any of the stems. We got rid of any extra leaves that were drooping down into the soil and then fertilized the BHN 968 tomato plant with 1 cup of organic granulated fertilizer evenly around the bottom of the tomato cage.

We also re-dirted another 2 inches around the base of the stems for our potato plants to ensure optimum growth for some of the more shallow root systems. We used compost to do so.

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On to our planting of the ‘Sweet Slice’ Burpless Cucumber. As with any transplant, we made sure that a wet transplant went in to a wet hole in the soil so we watered both before proceeding. We made sure to be extra gentle since cucmber plants bruise easily. The cucumber trellis is located directly next to the potatoes. We used 1 cup of Organic Granulated Fertilizer to the front and middle of the trellis and scratched it in. We then put the cucumber transplant in 2 inches away from the middle of the trellis making sure that the transplant was even with the soil line.

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We closed out the day  by applying 8-10 Sluggo pellets around the ‘Red Salsa’ Salvias and the ‘Carpet’ Petunias. The name gives away that Sluggo is used as an organic pest control against slugs and snails in the garden.

We also applied Javelin Bt to all the plants by mixing 2 drops of Ivory Detergent into 3/4 gallon of water. We then added 1 TBSP of Javelin as we lightly shook the can to help with mixing. We then added water to get a full gallon and applied to the plants. In this PDF, you can scroll down and find a complete list of insects that are controlled by Bt.

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 6, March 25th, 2017

Welcome back from Spring Break ya’ll. The garden is really starting to come into itself with this new warmer weather! For Week 6 we planted Bush Beans and Yellow Squash. 

Did you know that beans and squash are part of a traditional farming practice called the Three Sisters? The third veggie in the triad is corn. These three plants have often been grown together because they are mutually beneficial. Beans provide corn with nitrogen (which helps the soil) while the corn provides a trellis for the beans to grow and squash helps to prevent weeds from growing around the other two plants. Our garden volunteers have carefully planned the spacing and organization of all the veggies and plants in the garden so that they help each other grow!

Click here to learn more about how legumes like beans provide nitrogen for the soil and why that is so beneficial!

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 Special thanks to Mary Fernandez and John Mayer (pictured above), our garden leaders, for answering any questions and keeping the garden up and running smoothly! We could not do it without you two. Above right, Master Gardener Nancy Brown goes over the agenda, discussing composting for the potatoes and fertilizer upkeep for the veggies that are already in the ground. 

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Far above, a new youth gardener is careful to lift the leaves of the potatoes as she spreads compost about 2 inches high along the base of both rows of potatoes. 

A member of the current Master Gardener class, Ernest Rubio, shovels compost so that other helpers can sift out unwanted debris like rocks. Above right is an example of some of the veggie and eggshell donations volunteers have brought to contribute to the compost pile here at SABOT. 

SPECIAL THANKS to Blue Star Brewery for their kind donation of spent grain to our compost pile! We need a diversity of compost materials and they have helped so much!

Volunteers measured out 1 and 1/4 cups of Organic Lady Bug Fertilizer. We then spread 1 cup total around the base of our cabbage and cauliflower, making sure to stay at least 6 inches away from the base of the plants. There might be delicate root systems that we do not want to damage. We sprinkled the last 1/4 cup around the base of the ‘Tycoon’ Tomato. 

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On to the Bush Beans! We planted 3 rows with 15 seeds each for a total of 45 Bush Bean seeds. We went to the middle of the plot and measured 10 inches away from the middle divider and then marked the spot with a bamboo stick. We then measured 10 inches to the 2nd bamboo stick and then 10 more inches to the third bamboo stick. In each row, we planted a seed every 2 inches. For 15 seeds in that row, that means we measured a total of 30 inches. We repeated the same thing on the last 2 rows.  

We made sure not to plant the seeds too deep, since their sprouting root systems are so delicate. We gently pushed them into the ground and covered each one. 

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Then we moved on to the Yellow Squash. We planted a total of 3 seeds. To the right of the ‘TAM’ Mild Jalapeño plant we measured out to place 3 bamboo sticks. We measured 20 inches from the middle of the jalapeño plant toward the cucumber trellis and then 4 inches from the front of the plot. To place the second stick, we measured 14 inches from the first stick toward the end of the plot. For the third stick, we formed a triangle, measuring 14 inches from the first and second stick and meeting in the middle. 

Similarly to the bean seeds, we need to plant the squash seeds in a shallow position in the soil to ensure that their delicate roots can project through the soil. After watering both the Bush Beans and the Yellow Squash, we walked through to make sure none had floated through the thin layer of soil. 

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We then used each one of these small bottles of Lady Bug Natural Organic Fertilizer. We used 1/4 oz of Lady Bug Natural Organic Fertilizer with 1/4 gallon of water and applied to the ‘Carpet’ Petunias‘TAM’ Mild Jalapeño,  the ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli, the ‘Snow Crown’ Cauliflower and the ‘Cheers’ Head Cabbage in each bed. 

Special thanks to Milberger’s Landscape and Nursery for helping to fund each plot so families can have a more affordable experience here in the garden!