What's that squash?

Our biggest squash ever:
It split open sometime today and I brought it inside. I tried to weigh it, but it’s over 11 lbs, the max for our scale.
I looked around the web for id, is it a Hubbard squash?
In case you’re wondering why I don’t know what I’m growing:
I had inoculated a wide variety of seeds prior to planting, including many melon and squash seeds, because I decided to use up all our pre 2013 seeds and we had LOTS.  I had each variety in a little plastic cup with a label and I stuck the cups into a planting tray.  A few days later I accidentally knocked the tray off the shelf and all the seeds ended up on the dirt floor.  I scraped up the big squash and melon seeds and planted them in the tree holes for our new orchard (we didn’t get done on time for bare root trees).  And apparently we’ve never grown this squash successfully before, as I’ve never seen this type of squash.
Despite the rather late planting in mid July we got quite a few melons and squash.  The spaghetti squash are the best producers, but we also got 3 of these and the other two are much smaller and odd shaped.
Today we looked at a slideshow of the new garden / orchard at our gardening club meeting and I’ll try to figure out how to best get the pics online without spending half a day.  We’ve had so much going on lately with hosting WWOOFers and major cleanup / reorganization, but I’ve literally taken thousands of pictures this year and it will take a while to review and post at least some of them.
And I seriously hope that today was our last triple digit day for the year, it’s supposed to cool down.  Can’t wait for fall!
10/17/15 update:  I’m pretty sure it’s a hubbard squash.   We weight the 2 halves and each was over 11 lbs.   Several neighbors got a good sized chunk and we make delicious squash soup.   Found that we had two plants (both died by now) and we got two small squash, nothing compared to this one.   We’ll definitely grow it again, but I don’t know why the others were so much smaller.

Add to our wholesale berry, fruit and nut tree orders

Our first order will be from Hartmann’s Plant Company in Michigan.  They retail too, but if you order more than 100 plants you get wholesale prices.   I’ve been looking for deals like Hartmann’s, with many berries, kiwi and figs for about $2/ea in 2.5″ containers.   In previous years I paid $6 and more for small seedlings or rooted cuttings and lost quite a few of them.
There’s LOTS of info at Hartmann’s site and you can browse both the retail and wholesale listings:
Download wholesale catalog (.pdf)
The Growing Instructions are quite extensive and they also describe each plant and how to grow and prune it.  Some plants appear to be available only retail, such as asparagus and elderberry. It looks like the Growing Instructions contain all plants. And of course you can also download the retail catalog.
Download Growing Instructions
We will talk about specific plants and how to grow them in our climate at the 1/29 Gardening Club meeting next Thursday at 2 pm at Canyon’s End near Meadview.   That’s when you can add to our order and we will place the order the following weekend.
I called Hartmann’s today and a helpful person promptly answered the phone, spoke fluent English and answered my questions.  We’re off to a good start.   They’ll ship about a week after the order or later, as specified.  I may split the order into two shipments, have to do some more research.
Shipping costs:  about 25% of the order and I’ll probably have more info next week at the meeting.
In the meantime, please post here or email with any questions.
If you’re in Kingman or Golden Valley, we can bring your plants to town or you can pick them up at our place, near Meadview.
Below is our preliminary order:
Continue reading “Add to our wholesale berry, fruit and nut tree orders”

Our $140 winter seed order from High Mowing

I decided to order from High Mowing because they are 100% organic and they also offer bulk seeds, by the ounce or even pound. Since they sell to pros, germination rates should be high. I still order from companies catering to home gardeners and/or offering rare seeds (herbs, natives, medicinals), but I wanted to make sure we have high quality seeds and LOTS of seeds to give away to our friends, neighbors and gardening club members. Continue reading “Our $140 winter seed order from High Mowing”

Two varieties of Armenian cucumbers and Peacevine tomato salad

We were so lucky to have volunteer Armenian cucumbers come up in the hoophouse, for the most part where they were growing last year.   I wonder how that can be, since we harvested them all.   When they started to produce, I noticed to my amazement that some of them where the light green variety.  We got at least one from Anna last year and I was so surprised then because I thought they were all dark green like ours.  Apparently we composted some seed from Anna's cuke or gave the seeds to the red wiggler worms and somehow they ended up in just the right place in the hoophouse.  And that was a very good thing too because I was so late with my seedlings and eventually they died before I got them in the ground.
So this year we have both varieties, most weigh between 3 and 4 lbs each and here you see them before they were peeled:


If I had a juicer, I'd use the seeds in drinks as they are the most nutritious parts of veggies.  But since I don't have one, I just cut the cukes into manageable pieces, peel and then slice the long way.   All the seeds are in the middle and I scoop them out with a spoon for the worms or compost.
Fortunately a neighbor got me a bag of lemons today because I like to have the cukes in a dressing made from lemon, dill, agave syrup and sometimes finely chopped onions.  I dilute with water to taste.
Armenian cucumbers are actually MELONS, so people who can't eat cukes might well be able to eat these guys.
Because I had some of the Peacevine cherry tomatoes, I decided to also make a cucumber / tomato salad with some red onion and I used only balsamic vinegar as dressing.
Here you see the finished product with the tomato / cucumber salad already half eaten because the first pics didn't turn out well (I need a new camera).  I finished it off by now along with some of the cuke salad.   Had to make room in that bowl since I don't like to store food in the plastic bowls.  I really enjoy eating the lemon dill cukes on those hot days, makes for a nice cool snack and I think it actually tastes better after a day in the fridge.
From Twining Vine Garden about the Peacevine tomatoes:

65 Days. Prolific producer of 2 cm red, round, amazing zippy tasting fruit. Found to produce 'gamma amino butyric acid' a natural sedative hence its name 'Peacevine'. So have your moment of Zen, as if sitting in the garden eating vine ripe cherry tomatoes wasn't tranquil enough! Staking vine type (indeterminate).
This open pollinated cultivar has the highest vitamin C content of 30 comparable varieties tested. Use strong stakes with this one! Don't wear a white t-shirt while raiding this tomato as the dribble factor is quite high. Offspring of 'Gardener's Delight' and cousin of 'Sweet 100'.
Sow 5 mm deep. Keep moist; plastic cover improves success. Opt. germination temp: 18-25 C. Days to germ: 5-10. Bigger the roots at transplant (mid May) bigger the harvest. Prune sparingly. Protect from rain; water at plant base never foliage except foliar feeds. Heavy feeder; use balanced organic fertilizer. Excess nitrogen= leaves no fruit; no calcium=blossom end rot; extreme heat=blossom drop. See our tomato article under 'Confessions of a Mad Gardener' for growing information.

Our clusters aren't nearly as big as on the websites selling the seeds and I just started harvesting last week.  I planted 3 seedlings (rather late, as everything this year) and they are now at least 6 feet tall.     It was very hot for a few weeks and I haven't had much time to manually pollinate (with an electric toothbrush from the dollar store) either, but the plants are looking great, have many flowers now and I'm hoping for a big fall harvest. Have to take some pics for posting here.
Usually I eat them before I can even get them into a salad, snacking as I get to the kitchen or even in the hoophouse.  Maybe it's that sedative getting me addicted! 🙂


Delicious nasturtium salad in winter

Last week we finally cleaned up our rather neglected raised beds and to my surprise the nasturtium is still thriving!

It got down to 21F in our hoophouse several weeks ago, so I expected the nasturtium to be frozen too.  It struggled all summer and apparently didn't like the heat in this bed on the south side of the garage. It sure made a comeback and is even flowering.
I love the slightly peppery taste in salads.  Amazingly, the bugs left the nasturtium alone while the perpetual spinach and chard took a serious beating.
We learned this year that we really need to maintain the plants and if we don't eat what we grow, we still need to cut off old leaves.  Butterflies and moths and the subsequent caterpillars and worms will take over if you don't keep up.
We got totally overwhelmed in the greenhouse, the hoophouse and the raised beds.  We had way too much chard and kale.  Soon we'll have the farmstand at the paved road and we can sell what we don't eat.

Salad and grapes

Today we harvested our first grapes and we had a wonderful salad:

I discovered today that one of our grape vines has RED grapes.   I know I planted 3 red and 3 green grape vines, but in previous years we got only green grapes.  One of the vines that had not been doing well for years FINALLY took off, grew like crazy and here we are with almost red grapes.   I harvested them a little early because I noticed the birds going after the grapes and they already tasted delicious.
And we’re finally having lots of salad ingredients again.  Out of nowhere (self seeded from last year) came the arugula in one of our raised beds.  Not hot at all, but very tasty.  The large green leaves are probably perpetual spinach (living up to its name).  Our kale must be perpetual too because it’s at least a year old.  We added a few nasturtium leaves (have to plant more, love the peppery taste), onion greens, beets and tomatoes.
The hot June left us with next to no salad greens, but now that it’s been cloudy a lot (still no rain), everything recovered and is growing like crazy.

Finally some rain and one lonely peach

After it rained today I went to check whether the swales or our holding pond had any water (they didn’t) and I was very surprised to see that our little peach tree actually had a little peach:

I immediately picked it and it didn’t even occur to me to check whether it was ripe.  Lucky for us, it was ripe and it tasted ok.  Next spring we should put a bamboo fence around it so the wind won’t blow the blossoms and little fruits off.
It’s a dwarf tree and I don’t think it has grown at all since I got it in 2008.   We just put it in the ground a couple years ago and it’s out of the way on the hill in crappy soil and I rarely think about it.   We should make an effort to water and fertilize more often, but the hill really isn’t a priority right now since we’re still working on screening dirt in the hoophouse. More on that in the next post.

Our 3.5 lb Armenian Cucumber

This Armenian cucumber weighed over 3.5 lb:

It grew in the greenhouse and since it cooled off after Labor Day we’ve been getting more of these beauties. They are not cucumbers, but melons and they do NOT get bitter. During the August heat our cucumbers were not edible, but the Armenian cucumber were great, although we didn’t get many.
They make a seedless salad because it’s so easy to get rid of the seeds. Half the cucumbers and remove the seeds with a spoon: Continue reading “Our 3.5 lb Armenian Cucumber”

Hot summer days and gardening update

We've been lucky this year and enjoyed a relatively mild summer until August. The heat in the last few weeks was tough on veggies and until it got hot, established veggies got watered only every second day. Only transplants got watered daily for a week or two.
We had several Armenian cucumbers and we've been getting lots of tomatoes, mostly cherry, but some are up to 2″ in diameter.

8/31/11: tomatoes, Chinese white eggplant, most likely bitter yellow cucumber and Armenian cucumber

We decided to make a salad instead of a big dinner:

8/31/11: salad with homemade bread, olive oil and hibiscus / spearmint tea

Continue reading “Hot summer days and gardening update”

Lettuce, chard and mustard

The chard in the greenhouse came out of nowhere. We have four or five kinds of chard and what you see here is Vulcan, with the red stem.  We also have chards with white and yellow stems, but are not sure what variety they are.
We sauteed it and it was delicious.   We also still have lettuce, but have to be careful as it’s getting bitter.

The Southern Giant Curled mustard was a surprise too:
Continue reading “Lettuce, chard and mustard”