The Yardstead - Farm Your Yard!

 We love squash here at the yardstead.  We grow several different types of squash each season, but one type we always grow in the spring is Pattypan squash.  Pattypan squash is sometimes called "scallop squash" due to its scalloped edges or "custard squash" due to its sweet taste and creamy flesh.  We have only grown the yellow variety here, but there are also green and white varieties available.  
They pattypan squash is a flat round squash with scalloped edges.  The fruits are usually harvested before they reach 4 inches in diameter, while they are still very tender.   Pattypan squash  is sometimes prepared by scooping the tender flesh out of the shell combining it with other ingredients such as garlic and returning the mixture to the shell for baking and serving.  This is my favorite way to prepare and eat pattypans, but they can also be grilled or shredded and added to other recipes. 
They plants are vigorous and easy to grow with about 50 days from planting to blooming.  They should be planted in the spring after the soil temperature is above 62F.  The seeds may rot if the soil temperature is below this level.  We always start our first pattypans in the early spring with a second round starting about 3 weeks later to stagger our harvest a bit.  We usually have fresh pattypans all through the summer.  I usually harvest our squash.....

zucchini in Freezer BagFood Storage means different things to different people.  To some people it means buying an extra supply of canned goods or food stored in 5 gallon buckets for an emergency.  To others, it means "putting up" the summers extra supply of vegetables by freezing or canning.  Here at the yardstead, we do a little of both.  Now that food prices seem to be going up every week it has been less expensive for us to buy certain items in bulk and keep them stored in food safe buckets or storage containers until we use them.  We purchase items such as rice, sugar, flour and salt in larger quantities and keep them dry and well stored to save money.  Also we can, pickle and freeze quite a bit of our extra summer supply of vegetables.  This also requires use of a little more salt, sugar and vinegar than most people buy for daily use.

There are many ways to store food.  Over the last few years, with help from others and several very good books, I have learned to can and freeze quite a few vegetables.  The most popular vegetables......

 Powdery mildew is a disease caused by fungus that affects a wide variety of plants.   Plants of the family known as Cucurbits, which includes cucumbers, squash, zucchini, gourds, melons and pumpkins are very succeptable to powdery mildew.  We lost all of pumpkins here at the yardstead last year to powdery mildew.  Fortunately powdery mildew is easy to identify and treat.  It can be identified by white powdery spots, usually starting on the leaves of the plant.  It usually starts as small white spots which become larger and more numerous pretty quickly.  If left untreated the white spots can consume most of the leaves which turn yellow and wither, causing the plant to die.  The key to treatment for powdery mildew is to identify and treat plants as soon as any sign of powdery mildew is detected.  The treatment for powdery mildew usually consists of a fungicide applied by spraying.  There are several commercial fungicides available, some of which are made from natural plant oils.  Last year we succesfully treated our zuchinni plants.....

Believe it or not we have 10 more baby chickens.  When we ordered our first round of chicks this spring we ordered a rooster.  I believe I've already written about his untimely demise.  Our local farm store had buff orpington chicks that were purchased for another customer this week.  He never came to get them.  So they had mixed 6 roosters with 24 hens and didn't know which was which anymore.  So I convinced Jason that if we took 10...we have a good chance of getting one of the six roosters.  Wish us luck.  We may have all 6...anyone want a rooster too?

Turkey Hill Farm is having it's first Tomato Feastival on June 15th.  We are excited to go and meet some of the local farmers and slow food members in our area.  Jason and I have joined slow food Tallahassee.  Even though it is too far for us to go to every event, we are excited about attending a few events and getting to know more people in our area that are interested in the same things.

The garden looks great and is producing more squash and zucchini than we can eat.  We are putting up quite a bit of squash in the freezer this year.  I will try to get to adding some articles about food storage soon.  The winter melon seed arrived and we have planted a few in a pot.  I will be writing an article soon about this unique asian vegetable.  Stay tuned...there is more to come from the yardstead!


I know the debate about climate change and what is causing it goes on.  Much time can be spent debating this issue.  I read an article this morning from Fresh Talk: Comment and Analysis From The National Editor of The Packer.  The USDA press release this week pointed out that the growing season in temperate climates has increased by 10-14 days over the last 20 years.  This gives all of us, that our worried about climate change but are avid gardeners an opportunity to look at the "glass half full"...we've managed to gain two more weeks of time to do something we love.

The link to the Fresh Talk article is below:

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