By Penny Stine
Wednesday, July 18, 2012
My mom gave me a gigantic hubbard squash last fall. The squash was so big that I had to split it with an ax and a wedge. Half of it filled my oven when I cooked it. I froze it in ice cube trays and little plastic containers and used it to thicken soup, added it to sauces and threw it in casseroles.
It had very few seeds, but I saved them so I could plant them this spring. I planted hubbard squash in the middle of this 8 X 8 bed, and planted sweet potatoes in all four corners.
My mom warned me that the bed would probably be a little crowded.
Did I listen to my mother? Of course not.
Three of the sweet potatoes died, but since I used my own compost, tomatillos are now growing in their space. I also had marigolds, zinnias and at least one tomato plant re-seed themselves from last year or spring up from the compost. My surviving sweet potato is getting crowded by the squash and the marigolds.
The squash refuses to stay in the box. Since the only squash I've found so far on the gigantic, sprawling squash plant is in the grass rather than the planter box, I've asked my husband to not mow or trim too close to the planter. It makes him cranky, but so far, he hasn't cut off the trailing vines.
I'm wondering in what universe I would need more than one giganto hubbard squash to get us through the winter.
Over the years, I've read recipes for squash blossoms, but have never tried to cook them. I think this will be the year for deep-fried squash blossoms.
I do have a lot of them.
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 16, 2012
I dug up my garlic bed a few weeks ago. In the time since then, a good crop of weeds sprang up. I decided to try planting something else, since we probably have three more months until it freezes.
I had carrot seeds left over from the spring and decided to plant those, along with more beets, since they seem like a good crop to be picking in October. Had to go buy more beet seeds at Bookcliff Gardens Sunday afternoon.
As I was pulling weeds out of my garlic bed, I found more garlic. Lots more garlic, and a couple of onions (OK, the onions were obvious, since the green tops were still above-ground, the garlic tops were gone.)
I read more about harvesting garlic and discovered that I left the bulbs in the ground too long, which is why the protective skin that's supposed to be around the bulb is missing. The skin makes it possible to store the garlic.
No worries. Although I could try to eat all the garlic in the next week or so (I'm sure my coworkers would love me if I did), I was reading a book about medicinal herbs last night. It had a great recipe for pickled garlic, which I will try with all my unprotected little garlic cloves.
I got my bed planted right before the rain came down yesterday. Talk about perfect timing!
I don't know whether the seeds will actually germinate now, however. Usually, when I plant mid-summer with a hope of having a fall crop, the seeds refuse to cooperate and don't germinate until the spring.
By Penny Stine
Friday, July 13, 2012
Before last year, I never bothered growing onions or garlic simply because both are fairly inexpensive at the grocery store. I figured buying them was as cheap as growing them and I had a small garden. After expanding my garden last year, I decided to try my hand at both onions and garlic.
I discovered that if you don't pick them as soon as the stalks of either plants begin to turn brown, they have a way of disappearing, especially in a garden like mine where everything is fairly crowded together and nothing is in a neat and tidy row marked with a handy-dandy sign reminding me where I've put anything. Yes, my garden can be as complicated and convoluted as my sentence structure!
I planted red onions last year and harvested far fewer than I planted. The good news is that while the green onion top turned brown, withered and was hidden behind whatever plant was planted next to it, the bulb below the ground patiently bided its time, waiting for me to remember where I planted it. This spring, the bulbs sprouted green tops again and I paid attention and dug them before they withered and died.
So the $2.50 or whatever I paid for the bag of 50 tiny red onion bulbs in the spring of 2011 was actually a pretty good deal, giving me red onions for two years. I've also been scattering the seeds from the ones that have gone to seed in hopes that they'll give me more next year.
Onions... the crop that keeps on giving. I guess that's in more ways than one for onion lovers and the non-onion lovers who love them.
By Penny Stine
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I planted flower seeds on the bare side of this particular flower pot, hoping they'd grow around the tomato plant. The flowers didn't come up and the tomato decided to form tomatoes only on one side, making it a little lop-sided.
Because I used compost from my compost bin, a melon also sprouted. Sadly, it's forming on the same side as the tomatoes. I hope it doesn't tip over my flowerpot.
Although it's still pretty tiny, I'm thinking it might be a honeydew, which would be great because the ones I grew last year were fabulous. They were also large... I don't think this one will get big, but I could be wrong.
By Penny Stine
Monday, July 9, 2012
Beckie Giles, an advertising sales rep here at the Daily Sentinel, sent me some photos of her husband's straw bale garden. They have an agreement that she tends the traditional garden and he experimented with straw bales. Judging by these photos, I'd say his experiment is a huge success.
She also said that the birds came along and ate quite a few plants when they first came up.
Obviously, the birds didn't get everything. Maybe it's good they thinned the plantings - I don't know how much more these bales can hold.