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.....
Food 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:
Our baby chicks are 8 weeks old now. We've given some away and ordered a few more to arrive on June 1st from our local feed store. I just couldn't resist ordering some Auraucanas. We ordered a red sex-link rooster with our first baby chicks this spring and unfortunately he found the only spot that he could squeeze out to freedom from the chicken coop. He met an untimely death, thanks to a dog. So I've ordered another rooster to come with the Auraucanas.
The ducks are almost fully feathered now. They are just shy of two months old and three of the four have a pretty good "quack" these days. They are super friendly and love their kiddie pool. I really enjoy their company in the yard. I had no idea how much personality they would have. I believe we will eat a duck egg in the future but maybe not any ducks.
As Jason wrote last time...I couldn't resist purchasing three turkeys from the feed store. I really need to quit going in there...I get talked into any cute little critter. They are fascinating too and it's the first thing I've purchased without a lot of prior research. I'm happy to say they are thriving under the same conditions as a baby chick. They seem to have more personality than chickens and are not the least bit afraid. They actually like to "spend time" with humans...or at least hear you talking in the same room. Jason really wants fresh turkey this year for Thanksgiving. So we will see how that turns out.
I had my first lesson in slaughtering chickens last weekend. Not too bad for a girl who grew up in the suburbs! I did not have any problems and I've spent all week pretty proud of myself for learning a new skill. We put a few in the freezer and I'm looking forward to trying "fresh" chicken sometime early next week.
The last item I will plant outside in the vegetable garden this spring/summer will probably be some winter melons. It's hot in Florida now and we are getting to the time of year where a lot of outside work is just hard to do. Winter melons grow well in very hot humid environments and need about 150 days to mature. They keep well for several months and are excellent in winter soups and stir-fried. We will harvest all summer from what we've planted now and in Florida we are lucky enough to have time for a second garden in the fall. Also a winter garden is very easy too. So we will continue to add pictures and write articles as we go.
Well we weren't really planning on adding more birds to our yardstead just yet, but K couldn't resist picking up 3 baby turkeys at our local feed store. She says we can keep them in with the chickens so I don't have to build another pen, so I guess they can stay. We can keep them for a few months, just to make sure they are a good fit here at the yardstead. We can give them until lets say.......late November, then re-evaluate. Just kidding, K would never let me eat one that she raised.
She did however spend Sunday afternoon killing chickens at a friend's house. A neighbor of ours who split our last order from Mcmurray Hatchery was kind enough to keep 10 birds for us along with his 40 birds which were bought for slaughter. The meat birds we ordered are called "x-rocks" and were bred to grow to good eatin' size in just a few weeks. The chickens they slaugtered this weekend were about 7 weeks old. Kathleen, our neighbor, and his dad set up in assembly line fashion with each person assigned to a certain task. K was responsible for gutting and cleaning the birds. They were able to process about 16 chickens in a couple of hours without too much trouble.
Now I am a chicken hugger myself .......
We love bamboo here at the yardstead. We have several clumps of bamboo from a couple of different cold hardy varieties growing in our landscape. We are growing the bamboo in one section for a privacy screen and also plan to eat the bamboo shoots, as soon as they are big enough. We also plan to harvest some of the large culms eventually for fencing. We really didn't know too much about growing bamboo before we started with our first two plants, but we found a great deal of helpful information at Florida Bamboo Forum.
At floridabambooforum.com you can search the existing posts about bamboo or post your own question or comment about bamboo. The bamboo forum staff and other users are usually pretty quick to reply and we have always found good answers to our questions there. They also have a list of cold hardy bamboo varieties and information about growing bamboo beyond Florida in other climates.
Below is a list of forums which cover the main bamboo growing topics:
If your question or comment doesn't seem to fit any of the above topics, just post it in the general forum.
Bamboo is a very useful and beautiful plant and fits right in here at the yardstead with our edible landscaping policy. Our plants are only about 4 years old and we have had a little frost damage, so the shoots aren't large enough yet to harvest for food. This coming winter I plan to protect the plants better so hopefully next summer we will have some fresh shoots big enough to eat. We have also found the plants very easy to grow and care for and always recommend bamboo as a good option for an edible landscaping plant.
Some varieties of bamboo are more cold hardy than others, so always do a little research to make sure you select the best variety for your climate. Potted bamboo plants from a nursery can vary widely in price, so it pays to do a little research in advance. Also most varieties can be propagated by several different techniques, so you can start with one plant and grow as many as you like. So check out our friends at Florida Bamboo Forum and as always you can post comments or questions in our forum, here at the yardstead
After planting my chinese water chestnut, I began thinking of what other plants I could add to my edible landscape that could be used in similar dishes. We are already growing two varieties of bamboo that have edible shoots. This made me think of Ginger.
Z. officinale or true ginger is the rhizome or ginger root that you often see in asian markets and at the grocery store. It is most commonly used in asian cooking. It is wonderful in tea or as ginger bread cookies, ginger snaps or candied ginger. My mother has always said it is good for settling an upset stomach.
Ginger is easy to grow and makes an attractive potted plant. It needs a long, warm, humid summer and rich moist, well drained soil. It makes an attractive potted plant that will grow 3-4 feet tall. In the past, I have grown ginger in a large pot. It is far easier for me to harvest the rhizome at the end of the season. I just tip the pot over and wash off the roots...no digging!
The great thing about ginger is that you can purchase it from your local grocery and plant the rhizome to grow your own plant. To get as many plants as possible cut or break the fingers off of the main root. Each finger with an eye or growing tip will produce a new plant. Planting is similar to potatoes as you let the cut or broken sections dry before you "plant" in moist soil. Find a pot that is at least three to four times the size of your ginger root and fill it with soil. Then lay your ginger root on top. Place in a warm spot out of the direct sunlight and keep soil moist. The root should produce shoots shortly. GInger prefers bright light but not hot sun. In tropical regions the plants are grown for 9 months before the rhizomes are harvested. It can be harvested as soon as 5 or 6 months, but for the largest rhizome quantity it is best to wait a full 9 months. When you harvest, discard the "original" rhizome used for planting. Be sure to save some of the new rhizomes for planting for the next season. Ginger can be started indoors from these saved rhizomes for the next year's harvest.
Today, I looked at my local grocery store for a ginger root to plant. Unfortunately my local store had ginger but it was old and somewhat dried up. I will check again next week and add pictures to this article of my new ginger plant as it grows.