This week’s JerseySTEM's STEM Gardening Class was all about harvesting vegetables and learning about the impact of bugs on plants. The Master Gardeners (MGs) this week were Nell and Diane.
First, the students, as always, made observations about the garden. They observed that many of the radish plants were ready to be harvested. The MGs reinforced that radishes grow best in mild temperatures which is why we tend to refrain from planting them in the summer months. The students then harvested these radish plants. They also observed that the plants with the most flowers represent that they will be producing vegetables soon. Lastly, they learned that the more vegetables they pick, the more vegetables the plant will produce. The strawberry plants are showing signs of strawberries emerging soon.
Next, the students transplanted “volunteer” tomato plants and zucchini to allow them to grow by digging a new hole to replant them. After transplanting, they watered the plants, and added a cage around them for support. The tomatoes plants are an indeterminate variety, meaning that they continue to grow.
The next lesson was about “good” bugs versus “bad” bugs, and how different types of bugs benefit the plants or harm the plants. Good bugs help plants by either pollinating a plant’s flower or eating bad bugs that eat the plants. Some of the good bugs include bees, which pollinate flowers to allow them to turn into a vegetable, ladybugs, which eat bad bugs, and worms, which aerate the soil, eat organic matter, and excrete it. The qualities of a bad bugs include sucking out the plants juices or eating the leaves and stems of the plant until there is none left. Bugs that leave significant damage are beetles and caterpillars.
The MGs showed the children examples of good bugs and bad bugs in a children’s book. The students then searched for evidence of bugs in the garden, such as holes in leaves. We had several leaves that had holes in them. The students used magnifying glasses to see the bugs and concluded that the bugs that had been eating our leaves were flea beetles.
The last part of the session included harvesting kale, mint, mesclun mix, hot pepper in addition to the radishes. Everyone got a chance to taste the harvest.
For all pictures, see this link: