26 September 2012

La Belle's Hobby Farm: The Season of Squash

Winter squashes are the forgotten vegetables. 
Almost no vegetable is as easy to grow or keep. 
With fertile soil, full sun and ample water, vines take off.  
And after plants become established, they're so carefree,
it's easy to forget them until fall when their rediscovery makes the harvest that much sweeter.
~ Andy Tomolonis

t is almost frightening how quickly the days are growing shorter.  Next week it will be October already.  Where has September gone?
Perhaps there are gardeners who view the encroaching chill of Autumn with a wary and resentful eye.  But I find it a peaceful and bountiful time. 

It is the season when apples ripen and literally fling themselves at our feet.  It is the season when spinach, kale, and lettuce come into their own, the cooler temperatures being more to their liking.  It is the season when the earth begins to make preparations for a much deserved winter nap.   

photo credit: V.J. Matthew, 123rf.com

It is the season of squash.

Alas, although I harbor a grand passion for cucurbita pepo, especially the small ones known as sugar pumpkins, I failed to plant my seeds on time.  So this year I will have to rely on more schedule-conscious farmers for my jack-o-lanterns, pie punkins, and gaily decorative gourds.

In addition to my wee tommy toes harvest, I will be “putting by” the last of the long summer harvest: tomatoes, onions, potatoes, and beans.  This will entail a trip to the farmers’ market early on Saturday morning. As half extrovert, I love people, but can’t stand crowds.  I prefer to stroll through the tents and chat with the farmers about their crops, their lives, some even share their dreams.  It’s also a great way to learn about farming: when is the right time to plant, which crops like how much shade or sun, how much acreage do goats really eat, how long does it take for things to ripen.

Whether I’m crazy for wanting to grow my own food.

The answer to that last is a definite “no”, but at least after my first summer of trying my hand at it, I know what not to do next spring.  And that leads to the best part of autumn and the winter months looming just ahead: walking a more subdued landscape, planning out the new beds, and pouring over seed catalogs.

So that next year, I can grow my very own Great Pumpkin.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
All this talk of squash makes me very hungry.  Friday: autumnal recipes!

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