Kitchen Gardening Presentation to Cancer Survivor Group by Master Gardner Mary Demeny


HOUSTON: Mary Demeny, Master Gardener from Galveston County Master Gardener’s Association gave a presentation on Kitchen Gardening to Indian American Cancer Network’s (IACAN) Cancer survivor group. This event was very educational and was well received by the participants.

Mary talked about the importance of having raised beds for the vegetable garden, adding mulch to discourage weeds and how to compost. Newspaper, pine needles and dry leaves can be used as mulch. She showed picture of a compost structure which holds kitchen and garden waste materials to be composted. She stated that coffee grounds can increase soil nitrogen and can suppress some common fungal rot. The layer of coffee grounds should be no more than half inch thick around the plants. Don’t throw those banana peels! just toss them near a Rose shrub which enjoys the potassium in the banana peel. Rinse the egg shells, crush and sprinkle them in the garden. The rough edges of the egg shell deter snails, slugs and cutworms and the calcium is beneficial to Tomatoes, Peppers and Eggplants. Mary shared recipes to treat fungus and kill Aphids on the plants, and a fertilizer recipe for the vegetable garden. The fertilizer recipe calls for 2 cups each of alfalfa pellets and Epsom salt, 1 cup hasta gro, 20 drops of SuperThrive and 1 cup of fish emulsion to be mixed in a 20 gallon container, fill with water, mix and water the plants with it. Use rubber gloves when mixing the fertilizer to avoid skin burns. Pictures of different varieties of lettuce and vegetables from her garden made everyone want to run into their yards and start digging to prepare for a garden. Growing garlic Chives as a companion plant for Roses is a good tip. Orange peel is a deterrent to ants and works especially well for the potted plants.


Mary and her husband Roger brought cuttings from various plants to share with the attendees. Mary also shared bread, muffin and salad recipes which utilize the produce from her garden. She brought homemade bread, dried Louisiana purple fig (grown in her garden) slices, and orange rind prepared with honey for the presentation. All items were delicious. The jams and preserves Mary brought (prepared by Mary herself) as door prizes were appreciated by all. The attendees asked many questions which were answered by Mary and Roger. It was a very educational presentation.

IACAN schedules activities for cancer survivors every couple of months or so. The activities are chosen in order to provide emotional support, sense of accomplishment and general wellbeing. For example previously offered activities include healthy cooking, yoga, making necklaces with beads and Rose gardening. The survivors are encouraged to bring a family member or a care giver. The survivor activities are generally free and sometimes with a nominal charge for the family member. Next survivor activity is painting which is tentatively scheduled for second or third week of September 2015.

For information about IACAN:, Phone: 7133703489.