Our Abundant Harvest

Carrot harvesting was fun and a bit of a treasure hunt for the purple, white, yellow and orange carrots hidden beneath the soil.  We counted and compared the different color carrots and found purple were the most robust. The carrots were sent back to the community center where they will be served as snack.

Carrot harvesting was fun and a bit of a treasure hunt for the purple, white, yellow and orange carrots hidden beneath the soil. We counted and compared the different color carrots and found purple were the most robust. The carrots were sent back to the community center where they will be washed and served as snack. For the gardening record: approximately 80 carrots were gathered from one bed.

whitecarrots

We harvested so many beans...hundreds! The young gardeners picked the bed clean of purple, yellow and green beans. A large bag full was sent back with them but the young harvesters also sampled as they went.  What's better than a bean right off the vine!

We harvested so many beans…hundreds! The young gardeners picked the bed clean of purple, yellow and green beans. A large full bag was sent back with them but the young harvesters also sampled as they went. What’s better than a bean right off the plant and warmed by the sun!

The first time we harvested beans, one young gardeners asked what a bean looked like.  Now he knows!

The first time we harvested beans, one young gardener asked what a bean looked like. Now he knows!

We cleared the harvested bean bed back to the soil. But the beans we planted a few weeks ago are doing well.

We cleared the harvested bean bed back to the soil. But the beans we planted a few weeks ago are doing well.

The celery before the young gardeners harvested.

The celery before the young gardeners harvested.

Celery being trimmed of roots before being sent back with the young gardeners for snack.

Celery being trimmed of roots before being sent back with the young gardeners for snack.

The robust harvest was celebrated with strawberry lemonade, which is easy to make. Simply clean and trim a cup of strawberries and add them to a blender with 2 cups of lemonade. Pour this mix through a strainer and into a pitcher of lemonade.

“I don’t like it,” one young gardener said, teasing . . . “I LOVE IT.”

A pleasant way to end a good gardening day.  Happy gardening.

Companion Planting

One of our gardeners asked me about companion planting. That is, planting two plants near one another for the benefit of one of the plants.

I’m always interested in keeping insects away and so I do some plant planning with this in mind.

For example, onions are planted in rows between carrots to repel carrot flies.

And the nasturtiums – in addition to being colorful – are next to the beans to repel bean beetles.

And if you are wondering what is planted down the middle of the potato patch…it is a row of beans which are said to repel Colorado potato beetles. Horseradish is also a good beetle repellant.

Onions are planted around the cabbages and tomatoes to ward off insects. And the radishes near the carrots and beans are said to do the same.

You will notice I plant lots of flowers, too. The sunflowers, salvias and zinnias are planted to attract hummingbirds because these birds eat whiteflies. And the scent of marigolds confuses some other insects pests, so plant them where you can.

I’m always open toweb ways to garden organically without chemicals.

Happy gardening, Natalie

Moreau Community Garden Family Gardening Program Update

MCGAUG6When I arrived this morning, the garden was serene.

Soon gardeners arrived and started to tend their plots. MCGA6.13

And when the participants in the Family Gardening Program at the Moreau Community Garden arrived, things got even busier.

On today’s agenda:
• learning about a new garden pest
• harvesting beans, peppers, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and basil
• monitoring our experiment with powdery mildew remedies

You may remember that last week we sprayed a milk mixture or a baking soda mixture on different plants infected with powdery mildew. Our goal was to see which of these home remedies worked the best.

Today, the gardeners walked back and forth between the two test beds and made an evaluation. While both remedies seemed to have an impact, the baking soda sprayed plants looked better this week, meaning they had less powdery mildew. We repeated the experiment and sprayed again with both mixtures and will report our results next week.

Tomato Hornworms

Last season’s gardeners warned me that tomato hornworms were a problem in the garden in 2012. And just this week, gardeners are reporting finding them again.

Today, about 15 gardeners learned what tomato hornworms look like, how to spot them on a plant and what to do if you do find one.

A few of the adult gardeners were surprised at how large these pests are. The four we found ranged in size from about four to six inches. They have good camouflage, but you can find them on a plant by looking for an area missing its leaves. And, then look on nearby branches. They are voracious eaters and can strip the leaves off an entire branch overnight.
tomatohornworm

What do you do if you find one? If it is parasitized with wasp eggs, just move it off your plant. Otherwise, remove them off the plant and place them in the trash.


Harvest Time

MCGA6.7MCGA6.9
Every week we have been harvesting the vegetables we grow and sending them over to the Moreau Community Center and today was no exception.

At the community center, adults have been preparing the vegetables as a snack for the young gardeners. This week they made zucchini bread. One of the counselors told me that the bread was a huge hit and one youngster said he never heard of the vegetable before but loved the “ZOO ZOO bread.” I love that he tried it.

They may make some more because we sent many, many fistfuls of zucchini, peppers, beans, cherry tomatoes and herbs to the center today.

If you haven’t visited the garden recently, here’s an image of its beauty for you to enjoy.MCGA6.4

Frost Warning for Tonight!

According to the National Weather Service, temperatures will dip into the 30s for the next two nights.

If you already have plants in the ground, you will want to cover them to prevent damage.

How much can the temperature fall before damage is done?

It depends. Some vegetables are more tolerant of the cold than others. And plants that have been growing in cooler conditions are more tolerant than freshly transplanted from the greenhouse vegetables.

“In general, a frost (31-33 degrees F.) will kill beans, cantaloupe, corn, cucumbers, eggplant, okra, peas, pepper, potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, tomatoes, and watermelon.

Colder temperatures (26-31 degrees F.) may burn foliage but will not kill broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, lettuce, mustard, onion, radish, and turnip.

The real cold weather champs are beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots, collards, kale, parsley, and spinach,” according to the A&M Texas Agriculture website.

Tender herbs such as basil and rosemary should be covered as well.

In my garden I use whatever is available as covers … sheets, newspapers, even cardboard boxes folded to create tents. For fragile plants, I push a dowel into the ground to keep the cover from touching and breaking stems.

Someday soon we will be shaking our collective heads thinking about the crazy start to our season as we slather on sunscreen and reach for our wide-brim hats and sunglasses.

At least, I hope so!
Natalie