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.

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 2, February 25th, 2017

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BRRRRRR! Week 2 started out with an invigoratingly chilly, brisk morning and we had SO MUCH FUN getting our hands dirty again!

Before we got to planting the new veggies, we checked up on our work from last week. Even after the rough weather from San Antonio’s tornado week, we only had to replace ONE ‘GREEN MAGIC’ BROCCOLI PLANT because our gardener’s did such a good job. Pat yourselves on the back ya’ll!

We checked for any weeds or holes in our plots and then made sure none of the tubers from our potatoes were sticking out of the ground. We covered any of these with compost.

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ON TO THE NEW VEGGIES! We planted 2 ‘Cheers’ Head cabbage transplants and 2 ‘Snow Crown’ cauliflower transplants.

Along with brussel sprouts, kale and broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are commonly known as ‘cole crop’ plants. They are in the Brassicaceae family (formerly the Cruciferae family) and are known for having GREAT NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS. They are known as an antioxidant family of veggies because they are JAM-PACKED with vitamin A carotenoids, vitamin C, folic acid, and fiber!

 Click here to learn a little a little more about cole crops from Agrilife Extension.

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We started with our ‘Cheers’ cabbages! As always, we have to measure out where to plant so we can allow the veggies enough room to grow in the soil without overcrowding each other. We measured 2 feet in from the end of the bed (where our irrigation spigot is) and then measured 1 foot in from the side of the bed. The two placed bamboo markers should have measured with 18 inches between each other.

Of course, we made sure to water the holes we dug so that our already watered transplant cabbages would have a moist environemt to thrive! Want to learn more about cabbage? Check here to see A&M’s Agrilife cabbage facts!

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We then measured 18 inches further into the bed from the cabbage to locate where to plant our ‘Snow Crown’cauliflower. This Pikachu above carefully plants his first Cauliflower transplant into wet soil.

Back in September 2007, the Snow Crown’ Cauliflower was awarded ‘Plant of the Week!” Click here to read Master Gardener David Rodriquez’s article about it!

After getting both cabbages and cauliflowers in the ground and watered, we mixed  1 oz. of Hasta-Gro , an organic fertilizer, with half of the water can, about 1 gallon of water . Each plot only needed a quarter bucket of mixed liquid fertilizer for their cabbage, cauliflower and last week’s broccoli. We made sure NOT to let any of the fertilizer get on the leaves, just on the soil around the plants.

The instructors then applied Spinosad, an organic pesticide, to the leaves of all the green, leafy plants. We diluted it at 2 oz. per 1 gallon of water and applied about 1 quart to all the veggies in each bed.

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Special thanks to our volunteers representing the Alpha Phi Omega co-ed service organization at Trinity University! Not only did they help distribute compost and apply Hasta-grow to the plants but they also helped out in the experimental onion trial garden!

Stay tuned next week to see more of our veggies and how we’re using this onion patch to learn and become better gardeners! Remember we start journaling next week!

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 1, February 18th, 2017

YAY! SABOT has launched the Children’s Vegetable Garden for the Spring 2017 Season! A misty February morning turned bright and beautiful as kids, parents, grandparents and friends alike came together to learn in one of the nation’s oldest youth gardening programs! Many thanks to all of the Bexar County Master Gardeners and AgriLife Extension volunteers dedicating their time and expertise to the garden!

Special thanks to Milberger’s Landscape and Nursery for providing funds to pay for half of each plot so we can enrich gardening and education as a community!

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After covering garden procedure and safety protocol, we planted 1 row of 6 white Kennebec’ Irish potato pieces, 1 row of 6 red Pontiac’ Irish potato pieces and 2 Green Magic’ Broccoli transplants.

‘Green Magic’ Broccoli is a Texas Superstar Plant. Click here to check out the brochure to learn more about what that means and aquaint yourself with other Texas Superstars. You might even see a couple of the other veggies we’re growing on this list!

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As you can see above, the red and white potatoes are easy to distinguish from eachother. Notice how one side of the potato is cut and the other side has little green sprouts called ‘eyes.’ The dusty substance on the cardboard and on the cut sides of the potatoes is Phosphate dust, which helps to develop early roots and shoots.

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First, our youth gardeners evenly sprinkled their plots with 6 cups of Lady Bug natural derived Alfalfa based Organic Fertilizer. Then they measured for the placement of each potato, spacing them 6 inches apart and marking the spot with bamboo sticks. They dug a trough 4 inches deep and carefully placed each potato with the cut side down into the soil.

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Every gardener should label their plot! Once this bed develops into a lush bed of veggies and greenery that popsicle stick will help us identify when and where we planted! These taters should start sprouting foliage in about 5-6 weeks!

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Once the potatoes were planted and watered, we moved on to the ‘Green Magic’ Broccoli. Instead of using a seed, we used a Broccoli transplant which means that the plant has already grown a little bit by the time we place it in the soil. It is very important that a WET transplant goes into a WET plot or else the plant might not take to the soil.

In between our 2 tomato cages, we measured 2 holes about 12 inches apart. Then we sprinkled 2 cups of Lady Bug Organic Fertilizer, dug the holes about 4 inches deep and watered. The little fellow above is a FIRST TIME GARDENER! YIPPEE!

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This father-son duo planted the broccoli peat pot container a little deeper than the soil line of the hole they had dug, covering the purple color of the main stem so the soil was just below the seedling leaves. As Dad makes sure the broccoli stem is standing straight up, his son gently tamps the surrounding soil. It is important not to compress the soil too much because that can prevent much needed air and nutrient exposure to the plant.

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Gardeners concluded their day by watering and fertilizing the rest of the soil in their beds to prepare for next week’s veggie planting and making sure their PVC pipe irrigation systems were working.

If you would like to learn more, be sure to LIKE us on our Bexar County Youth Gardens Program Facebook. 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 2, August 27th, 2016

Alright! On to week 2! The gardeners checked their tomatoes and made sure the cages were places straight up.

We also had some very special visitors supervising and making sure their garden looked good:) 

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Just a friendly reminder that if you have not done so already be sure to LIKE us on our Bexar County Youth Gardens Program Facebook. 

Last week we planted our ‘BHN 968 ‘Dwarf Cherry Surprise‘ tomato and they are starting to look good. This combat with the heat is making it tuff, though. We are watering every day and making sure the plants are covered in mulch.

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 Some of our tomatoes had to be replaced, but no biggie.  This heat is a tuff one this year!!

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Week 2 plantings are the ‘Tycoon’ tomato plant and one ‘Sweet Slice’ cucumber

For the planting-guide-fall-2016 and the planting-diagram-fall-2016-p2 be sure to click these links.

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First we placed ourselves at the divider in the middle of the plot.Then we  measured 15 inches into the plot, from the middle outside part of the Divider towards the Irrigation on/off valve.  We placed a bamboo stick to identify where the large fruited ‘Tycoon’ tomato transplant was to be planted. Then started to dig a hole the same depth as the Tycoon tomato pot.

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We mixed two cups of Lady Bug natural derived Alfalfa based Organic Fertilizer with the soil dug from the hole.  Carefully removed the plant from the hole and added a little water to check for proper drainage.

 

We applied another cupful of Lady Bug natural derived Alfalfa based Organic Fertilizer on the very top of the soil around the plant.  Then we  mulched the top of the soil with about 2-3 inches of mulch from the mulch provided.

With the help of our instructors/volunteers, we placed the tomato cage back around the tomatoes.

Now on to the ‘Sweet Slice’ Burpless Cucumber.

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The cucumbers were places in the center of the trellis and we used a bamboo stick to help prop up the plants while their tendrils are growing. This gives them a better chance of latching on to the trellis. After that they are good to go.

One cup of Lady Bug natural derived Alfalfa based Organic Fertilizer was added and we made sure to give our gardens a good drink of water. Remember this heat is crazy this year!!

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Fertilizers

Why are we using so much fertilizer?  Each plot measures about 100 square feet.  For that amount of space each plot will use a total of 9 to 10 pounds of granulated ORGANIC fertilizer during the season.  Last week, everyone should have applied quite a bit of fertilizer.  When applying a natural based organic granulated fertilizer, you need to use larger quantities early because the nutritional content is low. It takes about three weeks to start breaking down and become available to the plants.  That is why we supplement with a water soluble fertilizer (Hasta-Gro) once a week for about three weeks because it is readily available to the plants at the time it is applied.  In comparison, a conventional fertilizer such as a 19-5-9 Premium slow-release granule formulation would be applied at a rate of 3 to 5 pounds per 100 square feet.

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Of course there were other chores and everyone was sure to lend a hand.

Have a great season everyone! 

 

 

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 1, August 20th, 2016

Hello everyone and welcome to the 2016 Fall Season at the Children’s Vegetable Garden at the San Antonio Botanical Garden! Last weekend was the first Saturday of the season and we have hit the ground running.

Our day began with Garden Leaders Mary Fernandez, John Mayor, and Volunteer Coordinator for the San Antonio Botanical Gardens Nadezhda Garza sign in our families and make sure plots are all assigned correctly. They work so hard at keeping this HUGE garden organized. Just want to give them a little shout out of appreciation:) Thanks guys!

Over the past few weeks here in San Antonio the weather has been especially warm with rain showers every other day and the Purslane has just loved it!! Check out our before picture of the garden! We’ve all experienced it, so check out this link from Aggie-Horticulture.tamu.edu on Weed Management in the Garden.

But of course, no worries, we have an excellent group of volunteers and families participating this season and these weeds don’t stand a chance.

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 Just a reminder, this blog will highlight the garden chores for the day and cover some useful information, and a detailed agenda on exactly what we did will be published here on this blog separately.

So the day began with prepping the garden bed (pulling weeds) and also learning where everyone’s new plots will be for the next 16 weeks.

The Section Leaders gave a brief intro to the garden and began explaining the garden chores for the day.

First step was to remove the weeds and then rake in some fertilizer. We also made sure the soil was smoothed out as much as possible.

Eight cups of Lady Bug Natural Derived Alfalfa based Organic Fertilizer was scratched in with a rake on top of the entire plot.

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Then we dug a hole which was the same depth as the pot that the beautiful  BHN 968 ‘Dwarf Cherry Surprise’ tomato plant was in.  Check out the link to read an article from AgriLife Today about this amazing and delicious tomato.

Then, the soil that was dug out of the whole was mixed with two more cups of the Lady Bug Natural Derived Alfalfa based Organic Fertilizer…..

….and put back around our little tomato plant.

After filling the soil back in, ONE MORE CUP was scratched into and around our new plant.

The cages were carefully placed back around our plants and we made sure to put our labels in the ground. Check out these videos for some cool quick tips on planting your tomatoes!

How to Plant a Tomato Plant & Tomato Cage Installation

We then hand watered our newly planted tomatoes with one gallon of water mixed with 2oz of Medina Hasta Gro.  Our tools were cleaned and we made sure to give our plants a good drink of water from our irrigation lines for about 10-15 minutes.

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Thank you to our volunteers and families for making this day so successful. See you next week! We will be planting our Tycoon’ Tomato and our ‘Sweet Slice’ Burpless Cucumber.

A special Thank You to Mr. Robert Ambriz for providing these beautiful pictures for this post today.

Winner of the 2015 Written Education Award at the Texas Master Gardener Conference

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and the Bexar County Master Gardeners would like to recognize Ms. Lyn Komada for all the hard work she has put into making this blog exceptionally great. It was because of her that the Bexar County Youth Gardens Blog received the 2015 Written Education Award at this summer’s Texas Master Gardener Conference. Thank you Lyn for your love and dedication to sharing the beautiful experiences at the Children’s Vegetable Garden at the San Antonio Botanical Gardens.

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