Tuesday, May 15, 2012
the tyranny of squash
We moved out of the city several years ago for a variety of reasons which I wrote about off and on when I first started this blog so I won't really go into it now. But one of the things we wanted was access to fresh organic food. Preferably food that we grew ourselves. We made one or two attempts to grow food in the city in the very lean years (I'd capitalize that except they occurred off and on with regularity) but we really didn't have any spot that got enough sun and usually by the time the occasional vegetable ripened, we had work again.
I've always liked to garden and my yard and the house next door yard, after we bought it for more studio space, was all done in native perennials and wild flowers because I am, after all, a lazy gardener. It was sink or swim in my yard through summer heat or winter freezes.
So now here we are out in the country and we have space to grow food. This is our fourth garden. The first one was kind of hit or miss because we didn't actually take up permanent residence out here til two years ago. Before that we were spending 3 or 4 days here and 3 or 4 days in the city every week depending on how the work load was going.
We have discovered that growing food is very different from growing plants and flowers. Food is a little more high maintenance.
I've always heard from people who did grow food about the abundance of squash. Our first garden, we didn't plant any squash but we had butternut come up as volunteers from the compost I had turned into the garden. They were doing quite fine with about a dozen butternuts forming until one day I went out and they were in total wilt.
A little research turned up the problem...squash vine borer worms. So I conducted a little surgery on the vines, lost about half but managed to harvest about half a dozen butternut squashes.
The next year I planted yellow squash and they were attacked early on and though I tried to cut the worms out, I think we only got one or two squash before the plants cratered. The next year it was zucchini and the same thing happened. We got maybe half a dozen and surgery aside, the plants didn't make it.
This year we planted white patty pan and zucchini. The plants grew and grew and started producing squash after squash. Never had the plants grown so big and full and lush. I've been going out every day looking for the signs of the vine borers and the plants have remained healthy, until about a week or so ago when I spied the first signs.
So, once again I was out there doing surgery on my squash plants. I dug out the worms, piled dirt on the wounds and the plants have not missed a single stride. In the past, I didn't try to save them until they were in total wilt. This year we are being held hostage to the squash.
Finally I understand.
We eat squash every night. We eat two squash and the next morning we go out and pick four more. I'm starting to be happy when I go out and see a little squash withering on the vine.
Marc has fixed baked squash, boiled squash, stuffed zucchini, orzo and zucchini salad, stir fry, grilled squash, zucchini lasagna, tuna stuffed patty pans, squash tempura, and these are just what I can remember.
We're going to have to make a trip into the city if for no other reason than to unload some of this squash!