Week 2- August 26, 2017

This work day was cancelled due to possible flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

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Week 1- August 19, 2017

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience”   -Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my first blog post, but not my first garden. I’m writing these posts now because I believe in the program, the practicality and the magic of it. My hope is to show you how easy it can be, and how rewarding. My name is Kelly. You should know I’m a fairly new gardener. They say you have to have killed at least 1000 plants to become a Master Gardener, and I’m well on my way. I completed the Bexar County Master Gardener program this year. I can’t recommend it enough. More information can be found here: Master Gardener Program. I have a bachelor’s degree in Biology and am applying to medical school in the not too distant future. Right now I am enjoying my husband and toddler! I am mostly interested in growing vegetables and feeding the world. I drive past highway medians all the time and say “YOU COULD GROW SO MUCH FOOD THERE!” If vegetables aren’t your thing, fear not. We grow herbs and flowers here too. I would say though, that if you have never picked a warm cherry tomato right off the stem, and eaten it, that you are missing out!

The instructions for the Children’s Garden come from our Bexar County AgriLife Horticulture extension agent, David Rodriguez. These represent the very best science backed gardening practices, with research conducted and aggregated by Texas A&M University. The best growing and hardiest vegetable varieties are selected, so that success is nearly inevitable. I plan to include videos periodically about how to build raised beds, what to put in them, how to install drip irrigation, how to select things to grow and when to plant them, and how to harvest and prepare what you grow. There are more than a few people who just follow along and do exactly what we do here at the children’s garden every week. That works too. Selecting things that your family likes to eat and planting those would be even better. Note that the agendas with most of this information can be found at the top of the page under “Agendas”. I am working on a new site design, so keep an eye out. Let’s dive right into week one!

Most of the kids have gardened with us before. This is high praise, I think, that they keep coming back. The volunteers arrive early to set things up. We are greeted by sunrises and the promise of things to come.

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Not bad at all!

Here’s the funny thing. Since its the first day, kids arrive and wait outside the gate to be checked in. The ones who have done it before are chattering and bouncing, but the newer ones are almost always quiet. The skepticism is pretty obvious. Can you blame them? Looking at all of these empty beds, and having never gardened before, they have no idea what a riot of color it will all be in just a few months. You drop a tiny seed in the ground and grow a giant plant? They’re not buying it. I can hardly wait to see their faces by Halloween! Here’s a picture of the Celosia that’s planted right by the gate:

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Celosia

Celosia takes the heat well and has soft, sturdy blooms. According to Aggie Horticulture, the name is derived from Greek and translates to “burning”. You can almost see that in the above photo, yes?

The section leaders all talk about gardening manners. We don’t walk on the beds, and we pick up debris in and around the plots and walkways. They are usually shown the compost section, which doesn’t look like much, but it’s what makes everything grow so well! Here’s a quick guide to compost. Families are encouraged to bring compostable materials in to add to the pile such as vegetable scraps, coffee filters, tea bags, and egg shells. We have volunteers who turn the pile and sift it for us.

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Compost pile

 

The first thing everyone does is “scratch” in 8 cups of Lady Bug naturally derived organic fertilizer per plot. This means they sprinkle it evenly all over, and then use a small garden rake to gently break the surface and mix it all in. tools.jpg

 

The children only planted one thing today, and it was a “Tycoon” variety tomato transplant.  We had the one gallon size, because they are larger and even more well established. Tomatoes are one of the things it is much easier to use transplants for, instead of seeds! The volunteers had come around and placed tomato cages where they would go, so these were removed.

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“Scratching” fertilizer in

Next we dug holes for our plants. Here, John shows everyone that the hole should be about twice as wide as the container, to give the roots loose soil to spread into.

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After digging the hole, we mixed two additional cups of the Ladybug fertilizer with the soil removed from the hole. Next, we GENTLY removed the tomato from the container and pinched the edges to help the roots spread.

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Pinch gently!

The tomato is placed in the hole. The top should be level with the soil. Half the soil we removed is put back in, and then we watered the hole thoroughly. Once the hole drained we added the rest of the soil back in. Any leftover soil we used to make a “berm” around the edges, to help keep water and nutrients in. No roots should be exposed, and any leaves touching the soil should be removed. If any soil remains on the plant it can be watered off, but you shouldn’t make a habit out of watering the leaves of vegetable plants!

*Note: Planting of tomatoes in the spring and fall is often done differently. We backfilled the soil and watered it BEFORE adding the plant because the sun has been drying out this soil for months. Watering first lets osmosis carry the water away to the drier parts of the bed, without stealing it from the plant later. The watering we do AFTER planting now should stay with the plant, which needs it in this hot Texas summer!

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Planting time!

Finally, one cup of fertilizer is sprinkled around the base of the plant, avoiding the stem! Fertilizer touching any stem or leaf can burn it. Mulch is added to the berm, and everything is watered with the watering can.

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Mulching the berm. Sounds like a campaign slogan!

The stake that comes attached to the plant should be left alone. It will support the tomato while it grows. The tomato cages are placed over the plants and hammered in place with rebar stakes. All plants should have a name tag with the name of the plant on front, and the date on the back.

Yes, if you can believe it, we do fertilize these tomatoes one more time. The Ladybug fertilizer is a natural product, and so more is required. We finish the planting with Hasta-Gro liquid fertilizer. Each two gallon watering can gets 2 oz of Hasta-Gro with half a can of water (one gallon). Each tomato plant gets one quarter gallon of fertilizer/water mix. Remember not to get any on the leaves! The instructors turned on the drip irrigation for a few minutes to make sure everything was well watered in.

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Notice that these were smaller tomato transplants for some empty beds. It’s not too late to register! 

That was all the planting for the day. We break it up over the first 4 or 5 Saturday’s, because it can be overwhelming! If you have questions, please comment and I’ll be sure to find an answer for you! If you know someone who would like to register, please have them do so! It isn’t too late.

-Kelly

Registration NOW OPEN!! For the 2017 Fall Children’s Vegetable Garden Program

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program

About the Program:

CVG Girl with entries resizedThe Garden is proud to present one of the nation’s oldest youth gardening programs. Children ages 8-13 get their hands-on horticulture with the help of our partner organizations, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service and Bexar County Master Gardeners.

The Children’s Vegetable Garden Program at the San Antonio Botanical Garden is an opportunity for children to grow their own vegetables and ornamental plants with the help of instructors from the Texas A&M AgriLIFE Extension Service and Bexar County Master Gardeners, as well as other volunteer organizations. Each child is allotted a 3.5’x28’ garden plot. Children will have fun growing different types of seeds, vegetables, and ornamental annual flowers. Children can also earn their Junior Master Gardener certification by participating in fun, hands-on activities each week after they have tended their garden. In order to gain the most from the learning experience and to help ensure successful growing, participants are required to attend all sessions (two absences are allowed). Families are welcome to share the gardening experience with their child. A parent or guardian must stay with their child.

Fee: Thanks to a generous donation from our friends at Milberger’s Landscaping and Nursery, the Spring Vegetable Garden Program will be $40 per child or $60 for two children to share a plot (non-refundable). Ages 8-13.

Donations welcome.

Questions? Please contact Timothy Roan at 210-536-1412 or troan@sabot.org

THIS SECTION SHOWS THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMITMENT TO THE GARDENING PROGRAM

Child   must   be   able   to   attend   the   Children’s   Vegetable   Garden   Program   every
Saturday, August 19 through December 2 from 8 a.m. till 12 p.m. (only two absences will be allowed).

Will child:  (1) be on time every Saturday by 8 a.m. (unless told otherwise); (2) do their daily
chores; (3) attend the daily presentation; and (4) participate in the daily Junior Master Gardener (JMG) activity?

Will child: be able to attend the first four-weeks of planting (very important)?

Will a parent/guardian be in attendance with their child, each and every Saturday?

Will child and family be able to attend the Saturday, November 11, Vegetable Show, Picnic and
Recognition Ceremony which ends around 1 pm?

Will child and family participate on cleanup day Saturday, December 3; for their plot and the garden?

 

The Fall 2017 Children’s Vegetable Garden Program

Saturday mornings, August 19- December 2 from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm

Click HERE to register for Fall 2017 Children’s Vegetable Garden Program

Children’s Vegetable Garden Program (CVGP) Week 10, April 22nd, 2017

Welcome to week 10 everyone. It was about 8:30am when we felt a little drizzle and the wind started to pick up. The cold front had hit us right as we started to work in the garden!

There were just a few chores to take care of like making sure that our plots, walkways and sections were completely free of weeds, trash and any large rocks.

We worked on our Insect Pest Management (IPM) and removed any ‘roly-polies’, Cabbage Loopers and Army Worms, and  and any other bad insects that were anywhere near our gardens. I know they are cute 🙂 but we DO NOT want them in our gardens!

Photos above: Left: Amy worm, photo provided by Agrilife Today, TopRight: roly-polie, photo provided by Wikipedia , Bottom Right: Stinkbug, photo provided by Wikimedia

We decided to harvest the broccoli. If we had waited one more week, it would have definitely bolted and not been very tasty. Click here for more info on growing broccoli and harvesting

Instead of leaving the broccoli plant after harvesting the crown to grow the smaller broccoli shoots, we also decided to pull out the entire plant. There was a bacterial infection found in some of the broccoli plants it was best not to run the risk on other plants becoming infected.

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Normally, after harvesting the broccoli crown, smaller shoots of broccoli will grow around the cut area and can be harvested for a yummy salad or side dish.

Some cauliflower were ready to harvest as well, while others still needed a little more time. To ensure that we get that pristine white cauliflower we wrap the leaves around the cauliflower head. A large, stretchy rubber band is used to hold up the leaves. The sun  turns the cauliflower heads yellow, so we gotta block it out.


This was the last day to reseed any yellow squash or bean plants that have not come up or might look real bad. Try to follow the expected germination dates to know if you need to reseed. Click here for a pdf from the Learn Grow Eat and Go! Junior Master Gardener Program planting chart.
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Even though it was a little drizzly, we wanted to properly water our plots to ensure the soil was moist enough for our veggies.

Then, as added IPM, we drenched our cabbage plants (especially in their centers), cauliflower and broccoli plants with Spinosad.

Pictures above are John Mayer and Jon Maldonado prepping the Spinosad according to directions and then the plot leaders take the Spinosad back to the students and their plots.

Of course, nothing goes to waste here, so we took all the yellow leaves, broccoli plants, and brush to our compost pile. Did you know that you can pick up coffee grounds from your local coffee shop to enhance your garden compost pile?

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Lastly, I just wanted to share these pics. The CVG tool storage shed is always very organized and easily accessible. Keeping things clean and organized minimizes tool damage, safety hazards, and frustration!!!

 

Thank you and Happy Gardening!

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.

 

 

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.