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

Our Garden Today

camper7There’s plenty of great stuff going on at the Moreau Community Garden….and there are also some insects and diseases that need to be addressed.

Let’s start with the good.

Today gardeners in the Family Gardening Program harvested handfuls of cherry tomatoes, the last of the green beans and peppers, fistfuls of baby carrots and some sweet basil.camper3 campers2

camper1 Most of the harvest went into bags to go to the community center where they are eaten as snacks, but a few green beans were enjoyed right on the spot. YUM!

Tomato Taste Test

The gardeners also tried two different varieties of tomatoes in a taste test to determine which was better…Moskvich or Opalka. The children liked the Moskvich, a very meaty tomato.tasting

Garden Detectives

We also walked around the garden discussing problems. The gardeners looked at examples of Septoria Leaf Spot and Early Blight under a magnifying glass. I discussed the symptoms and what to look for on the plants. Once they knew the symptoms, I asked them to diagnose the problem in their plot of tomatoes.

It is like being a detective looking at clues.

They got it right, early blight had infected the plants. We cleaned the plants out of the plot and will do more to be certain to remove all plant debris, even the roots so it can’t overwinter.EarlyBlight2

We also spotted several parasitized tomato hornworms much to everyone’s amazement and, in some cases, horror. Certain wasps belonging to the Braconidae family lay eggs on the tomato hornworm. That is what those white eggs in the photo are. As the eggs hatch and develop, these wasps eat the tomato hornworm killing it.
hornworm1
We also saw Japanese beetles and squash bugs. If you have these in you garden, clean them up. Thank you.japbeetlesSquashbugs

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