>Vegetable Garden New and Improved


My last cold season garden didn’t happen- mainly because the sides of my vegetable garden beds were caving in towards each other.  It made me unhappy every time I went out there which meant I went out less and less.  Finally, John took pity on me and rebuilt it.  We even improved it by making a pass through path at the back of the garden.  So now, instead of looking like beds in the shape of an “E”, it looks like a “U” with an “I” ticked in the middle.

Dirt got put back in, then I reinstalled the drip irrigation and micro-sprinklers, taking care to bury the tubing below the new pass through path.  Then we reinstalled the two 16′ long cattle panel trellises.  I will never garden without these things again- they are such space savers when you can have cucumbers, beans, squash, etc growing up them. 


Finally it was time to plant.  Tomatoes, ancho pepper, tricolor pole beans, japanese and pickling cucumbers, Italian squash, and tomatillos.  Perhaps space for an few okra in a few weeks. My last step is to add the mulch back, but I am finding it humorous to see what seeds the dirt turnover is revealing- lots of volunteer tomato plants and even marigold seeds from a year ago.   

Those little red and white cups you see in the photos are for protection against cutworm- the love to get my hopes up as the plant gets settled and then dash them by coming along and severing the whole plant off.  A simple cup or even the 4″ nursery pot with the bottom cut out and placed around the plant will protect from them.  And I used cupcake cups to put around the Italian squash plant stems.  This has the added bonus of keeping the moth from laying the squash vine borer eggs deep around the stem at ground level.  They are easier to find higher up on the plant.  Squash vine borer…my nemesis…grrrr.  So my new weapons, cupcake cups and Bt powder.  And every few days I go out and crush any eggs I find between my fingernails.  Funny, you can even see a tomato volunteer coming up next to the squash plant with the white cup around it.

Here’s the view from the back looking out at both gates.  See how John built the nice high beds for me so when I’m old I can still be the gardener lady on the block with plenty of cucumbers to offer neighbors?  So sweet.

>Nature’s Best Home Protection System


I noticed our cactus has been rented out. There was a nest well hidden in the middle of the cactus.

 I got up close enough to snap a picture of the eggs…and to also get a shot of prickers into the backside of my shorts. Ouch!  Mom saw me and did a few fly-bys to warn me off.  I don’t think I need the additional warning.

Potatoes and Pole Beans Take Off

First graders have really been busy in the garden these last few weeks.  One of the first things the first graders do on every visit to the garden is Observation Time.  First, they read the temperature.  Next, they spend some time observing changes in the garden…and right now, the changes are happening fast.  These students have seen bluebonnets sprout, flower, get pollinated and now grow seeds, all in the last few weeks.  Insects are really coming out now so the students get to see bees, caterpillars, spiders and more.  We saw our first black swallowtail caterpillar in the garden this week as well, along with two baby caterpillars, happily munching on fennel. 

Did all of the parents out there know that the first graders know how to grow potatoes?  Each class has a potato tower in which they have 4-5 potato plants growing.  Every week, a few students are the potato crew, watering the plants gently. But in the last few weeks, we have seen some phenomenal growth so we are now busy mounding mulch around our potato stems to encourage the formation of the potatoes.   

While the potato crew waters, other students make observations, checking to see if we need to add mulch or this week, noticing new flowers on some of the potato plants. 
In addition to all of these other great things to watch in the garden, we have been keeping an eye on our zinnia and pole bean seeds that we planted.  Well, the beans have sprouted and boy, are they growing fast.  So we have started charts to record their growth, turning our weekly measurements into a bar chart that shows us easily which weeks have the fastest growth. We will keep adding to the bar charts until our last week in the garden, only four weeks away!

>Master Gardener class coming soon!

>Many of you know that I am a Master Gardener in Travis County.  I am very happy that I took the class and became involved with this wonderful organization.  Not only does it feed my passion for gardening in so many ways, but I have been introduced to some of the most amazing people who have become wonderful friends as well as colleagues. 

The 2011 Master Gardener class is coming up soon and the application process is fast approaching.  If you have any interest in possibly taking this class, click here  for more info on the process.

 Here’s a little bit about the program from the Extension blog:
Have you always wondered just who exactly are the Travis County Master Gardeners and how their title is earned?

The Master Gardeners are volunteers who support the efforts of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service through community education in horticulture.  These dedicated people devote a significant amount of time volunteering in our community. Have you ever called our Extension office in Travis County or sent us an email and asked a horticultural question? Chances are, a very knowledgeable Master Gardener assisted you.

Before becoming Master Gardeners, these folks must attend a very rigorous, but enjoyable, training program. Offered a maximum of once per year in Travis County, this program provides training in such topics as basic horticulture/botany; native and adapted plants; plant pathology; entomology and integrated pest management; tree care; lawn care; and many others.
Hope to see some of you at future MG meetings!