Category Archives: veggie gardens

Travelogue : Lost and Found

 Hell eee gan, not misspelled, but more an attempt to phonetically write how our charming garden docent Graham told us it was pronounced. The emphasis, to correctly say it, is on the middle syllable. I shall always remember him politely chiding us, but I will probably forever say it wrong.

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A field of Flanders poppies (Papaver rhoeas)  on the West Lawn framing a breathtaking view  to the Cornish countryside in the distance.

Welcome to the Lost Gardens of Heligan. It is another garden in restoration that makes you wonder;  how could an estate of that magnitude disappear into rubble? Money, time, loss of family traditions, a world war and a hurricane-in this case,  it was all of the above.

Then a machete wielding man started hacking away at the tangled mess. His brain started thinking restoration. So began the adventure of Sir Tim Smit. Reading stories you will find most thinking him part visionary, part insane, and actually part rock and roll.  He is as much a marketer and PR master as a passionate garden creator:  “If you truly believe in something and you can get three others to believe in it too, it will happen. If you love something, provided you’re not a freak, they’ll be millions of others that love it too. Then, the only remaining issue is a marketing one”. He has added billions to the Cornwall tourist economy by creating two gardens that visitors flock to by the thousands. Heligan was one of the first projects that brought him into the gardening limelight. Eden was the other.

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Glimpses of old stone throughout the gardens reveal its past


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The true gardens of Heligan were the productive ones. The Kitchen Garden, The Melon Yard and the Flower Garden.


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A private retreat in the Italian garden built in 1906


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An iconic shot of  one of the features of Heligan. The Mud Maiden along the path of the Woodland walk


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A turn towards New Zealand (the portion of the garden, not the country!)

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Next travelogue:
If these walls could talk: Castles in ruins and beloved restoration


Travelogue: Visiting Eden

Somewhere around the year 2000, I read about a project in England that was a bit unusual. Was it a garden or was it a sci-fi movie set? This was not one of those classic English gardens of long historic reverence.  This was a dream of Tim Smit  who spearheaded the restoration of Heligan (upcoming post of a visit with the mud maiden, stay tuned). The Eden Project was a crazy concept to create a series of Biomes banked in the crevice of a giant china clay pit that scarred the beautiful Cornish countryside. His vision was to have massive greenhouses that allow people to see “…a living laboratory showing plants we depend on, seeing them as they grow in the wild together, a living demonstration…” I followed the stories of it’s building progress and read the controversy and challenges it has gone through. Satellite photos on the internet make it look like big pieces of bubble wrap tucked in the earth. It has always made me curious.
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This was a treat to walk out of the visitor’s center and down into the large pit and say, I can’t believe I am seeing this for real . Yep, I am pretty simple to please! Give me a garden to visit and you’d think you’d given me a million bucks.

IMG_2496The best part of the Eden Project beyond those amazing Biomes is the education and sustainability mission. All the water used to keep the huge rainforest dome bathing in humidity and to flush the toilets is collected rainwater. Energy is generated from the huge wind turbines around Cornwall. Kids and families, were everywhere, walking through this learning lab of plants both inside and out of the domes. I want an Eden here to take my grand-babies to and share in the magic of growing plants and learning about flora from all over the world.
There is much more to say about this unique project and this post could get long, but probably best to let you catch these links later and fill this post with my photos.

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Gardens outside the Biomes–reclaiming this old china clay pit into a lush  garden

 

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Learning about Pollinators

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Inside the Rainforest Biome

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The veg garden surrounding the outdoor dining area

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Inside the Mediterranean Biome

Next Travelogue: Should I know who Doc Martin is?


Travelogue: Check mark off the bucket list: Aberglasney

What is a bucket list? A list of things, whether written out or virtual, of places to go or things to do before you die. Mine is also known as the “someday” list and includes  gardens I’d like to visit. I could walk through gardens all day, every day, but sometimes one I have read about captures my imagination. I think about what it would be like to walk in and get sensory overload just by being there. Touch, smell, feel-those things photos or the internet can never do.
Aberglasney in Wales was added to my bucket list in 2007. I attended a lecture in Seattle given by the head gardener, Graham Rankin. It was a story of a garden lost in time (a book and BBC series) and its restoration. Just the idea of how a garden and home of that magnitude dating back 500 years, could simply disappear into rubble, was fascinating. Looking at the photos, I envisioned myself walking along the upper course of the  Elizabethan cloister garden. Back then, I never thought I would get to Wales, so visiting this garden was on my list, but really almost forgotten. Fast-forward to 2015 and the planning stages of traveling with a group to the UK. I notice we will be staying in Abergavenny. My mind began to wonder, is it possible that Abergavenny is near the Aberglasney on my bucket list?  Google maps said it was just over an hour drive away. It wasn’t on our itinerary, but I couldn’t get THAT close and not go! Uber, cab, bike, hitchhike, walk…I had to figure it out. Marianne, our tour planner,  did some searching to add it to our itinerary and found out they were closed on our one free day in the area. NO! But, yes, with Marianne’s keen negotiation, Aberglasney was added for a visit on the longest day of the year with dinner included.
Misty eyed
It was late afternoon in the lovely country side of Wales. As we drove up the coach parking, I felt lost. Was this the place I had seen in photos? It just didn’t look right. We started in the restored main entry of the house, and then walked through a door at the back of the room. It opened to the Ninfarium and that was the moment I recognized it from the photos that Graham Rankin had shown; I almost started to cry. Yep, that’s me (what a nerd), I had a moment of overwhelming gratefulness that I could travel and walk through this place that I had only seen in photos.

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The Ninfarium,  the central ruins of the house covered with glass to create an atrium.

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The Cloister Garden

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All the lovely angles of ancient stone in the Cloister Garden

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A look back at the house from the Upper Walled Garden

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A walk through the Yew tunnel planted in the 18th century.

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The Kitchen Garden

It was magical for us to spend the summer solstice walking the gardens with head gardener Joseph Atkin. Dinner was cooked from food grown in the lower walled kitchen garden and served on the terrace overlooking the pool garden as the sun was setting. The perfect way to check
this one off the bucket list. And yes,  I finally got to take the walk I had only imagined, on the upper part of the cloister walls, what a view!  If your journey ever takes you into the heart of Wales, you must go visit this place.

 

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The Upper walled garden designed by Penelope Hobhouse

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Gardens by a few degrees of separation: I visited a garden in LaMalbaie, Quebec, Canada, Les Jardins de Quatre-Vent, (checked off my bucket list in 2013) that has ties to Aberglasney. Frank Cabot and family, owners of Les Quatre Vent, gave money to help with the restoration of Aberglasney. Add the gardens of Les Quatre Vent to your bucket list too!

Next Travelogue: Visiting Eden


Word on the street

Garden trends, those lists that come out every year, do you read those? Everything has a trend…from what color to paint your house to how high a dress hemline should be. The latest on what we must have and how we can have it all. Sometimes it feels very driven by industry; like the paint supplier telling us what color is hot. But what about the end user?

In the ways of gardening, what is the word on the street, the latest buzz? I start with my design clients, what are they asking for, seeing and pinning on their Pinterest pages? What are we actually installing in landscapes? I also do a lot of seminars and workshops, and the request for topics from garden clubs and nurseries are also a big tell-tale of what people want to hear and learn more about.

Cutting gardens are back.
Thanks to the awesome slow flowers movement. We care about where our flcome into my garden.jpgowers are grown and that they are local. The flower in the vase looks less a mystery of its beauty when we see local flower farmers bringing it to market. In turn, it makes gardeners want to grow some too.

Chickens are getting easier.
I remember having chickens years ago before it was trendy, and it was a joy to have them, but it was also a lot of work. I look at all the resources available today, from the Taj Mahal of coops to chicken sitting services,  practically anybody with logical space to raise them can do it. Check out Fresh Eggs Daily for a bounty of information.

Bees matter.
As a matter of fact, we can live and die by how the population of bees is cared for. Check out this episode of Growing a Greener World on the importance of urban beekeeping. If you are not interested in beekeeping, you need to be interested in how chemicals affect bee populations and ways to help attract pollinators to the garden. Yes, really you must! Visit the Honey Bee Conservancy to learn more and get the facts.

Flavor is in.
Once you cook with fresh herbs from the garden, you will never look at a spice jar on the grocery store shelf again.   There simply is no comparison to the flavor of processed herbs or vegetables to those harvested from the garden. Fresh picked, canned and preserved. Download a podcast (or two or three) from Living Home Grown including this one on “Getting more Garden Flavor”. YUM!

Fragrance Is In.                                                                                                     Aromatherapy in the garden. Think fragrance beyond flowers. Get to know shrubs like witch hazel (Hamamelis), Daphne and sweet box (Sarcococca) . Plant trees that linger fragrance in season and blend natural perfume all over the garden, Magnolia, Chinese Fringe Tree (Chionanthus), Fragrant Snowbell (Styrax obassia) . For more scented plants, go to Great Plant Picks “Plants that make Scents.”

Selfish gardening is not a bad thing.
What can a garden give back to you?  Gardeners want plants that give back and are adding them to ornamental landscapes. Blueberries as a hedge like the variety ‘Sunshine Blue’, parsley as a flower border edging, strawberries as a groundcover. Designing gardens with plants that give interest to the garden but give something to harvest. Join me at the Northwest Flower and Garden show Thursday February 18th for my seminar “In Search of Useful Spaces” for more on how gardens give back.

Weeds and deer, any miracle solutions out there?
Yes, there are lots of ideas, just google it and you will be inundated. Start with knowledge. Know what type of weed you are dealing with (annual, perennial, rhizome or seed spreader) and take action. For most weeds, if you take away what makes them thrive or reproduce, they will stop doing those things! Deer and wildlife are creatures of habit, get to know those habits. What are they looking for, food, a place to bed down, safe passage? Don’t plant an edible garden in the middle of a popular deer trail. Makes sense right? There are many logical solutions like a deer fence and repellent sprays, but get to know your garden pests to know how to take charge of how they damage it.

There is never a request for more grass.
Most say they are sick of mowing, moss and chemical use on lawns and want to simply make it go away. It can happen, but before you get out a shovel or use a chemical (gasp) to kill it all off, start with a plan. If the grass is gone, what goes in its place and how will it be maintained. The answers are in the design.

Those gardens that were lush and magazine gorgeous ten years ago are now being renovated to low maintenance.
Renovating for low maintenance is a huge part of my work right now. We want all that lushness, but we don’t want the work. How to strike a balance? Choose plants wisely and consider what maintenance you hate. Pruning? Water use? Mowing? Weeding? All of the above? There is no such thing as a zero maintenance garden, but there are many things that can be done to strike a balance between the beauty and the work of a garden. Just for fun, dream of renovation in under an hour! Am I the only one who used to watch the TV show “Ground Force” on BBC?

Internet gardening is frustrating, aka plant searches suck.
Be wise about where you are getting information about your garden. Choose resources such as colleges and educational facilities that are motivated by the study and proper care, not by selling you a product. The Garden Professors, Mobot, Great Plant Picks, The Elisabeth Miller Library  are some to take a look at.

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There is high demand for natural looking pathways through the garden. I get many requests for material like gravel and wood chips instead of flagstone and paver block. Take away the sterile feel of walking
through the garden by changing the choice of the surface. Mmm, dreaming of decomposed granite? ? Me too!

We like to Pinterest, but…
Do we really want it all. We like the pallet garden idea-but we wouldn’t dare put it in our own gardens? The reality is a different thing, just take a look at Pinterest fail  for a dose of humor. But seriously, be logical and use a critical eye for ideas on Pinterest. Find plants to discover, garden decor, furnishings and such. I like to think that it is a great place for concepts, pictures, and ideas. Build a wish list and idea book for things you want to do in the garden.

Contained gardens go anywhere.
Pottery, plants that don’t overgrow their containment.  Small space edibles, aromatherapy and more. Container gardens are a hot commodity and for good reason. You can garden almost anywhere when you pot up plants. Create privacy on a balcony, have fresh herbs on the deck right next to the BBQ, stylize and add color to a boring spot in the garden.


Garden Genes from Grandma

Dear Grandma,

I miss you already and many memories of you make me smile. Some of my favorites are memories of your garden and our garden chats! I remember when I was little; I just couldn’t stay away from your currant bushes that grew along the driveway edges. I‘d get a small Dixie cup from the bathroom and fill it with currants. You then would scold me for eating them and say that you were trying to get enough of those sweet little things to make jelly and I was stealing your stash. The garden in back of your house was huge and it seemed like you and grandpa could grow anything. When it was meal time there was always something picked fresh out of the garden. Once when grandpa wanted a snack he went out to the garden and picked beautiful leaves of romaine lettuce, brought them in the house, gave them a quick rinse, sprinkled them with salt and pepper, and ate them. I was sitting at your table thinking how fascinating it was to see a snack from the garden like that.

Everything germinated by your green thumb. During my last visit, you told me to check on your tiny lemon trees, and wanted to make sure they were ok. You told me you had simply thrown seeds from a lemon in the houseplant soil and sure enough… they grew. Grandma, you could grow anything from seed. I used to think it was magic and it must be why I still have a sense of wonder every time seedlings pop out of the ground.

I love lavender and I am sure it comes from the lingering fragrance of dried lavender flower sachets tucked in your linens. You always said it was one of your favorite flowers, I am thinking it must be genetic! Speaking of genetics, my mom never had a garden when I was growing up and she could care less about growing one, so the passion for gardening skipped a generation and landed in mine. I think you always got a twinkle in your eye knowing that.

You consistently asked about your garden and would say, “I bet my Susie would know what that is.” A few weeks ago during my visit, you asked me to report back to you on how your yard looked. I picked every blooming daffodil in sight to bring to you in the hospital; I thought you needed them more than the garden did. You also insisted that I meet one of the nurses who brought you flowers because that nurse needed to know her granddaughter who loves to garden. It feels like we are in a secret society; those who love the garden no matter what we grow or the geography between. We will always have something in common.

It reminded me of a few summers ago when I told you how beautiful the dahlia fields looked as I passed them driving to your home in Canby. Remember how you told me you missed them? I loaded you up in the car and we went for a drive to see a dahlia farm. The fields of color were so breathtaking but you were frustrated because you didn’t feel well enough to get out of the car for a closer look. We drove all around it so you could feel like you had walked through it. You were worried we would get in trouble for driving on the farm roads and I told her if someone asked, then I’d just tell them my grandma wanted to see the flowers. How could they get mad about that?

Maybe this is another genetic thing, but we always had tea. On our last visit you impatiently mashed the call button for the nurse and when she came in, you told her she needed to bring her granddaughter a hot…very hot, cup of tea… please. I was a bit embarrassed, as I am sure the nurses have much to do, but I did get my tea and we enjoyed a cup of tea together…for one last time.

Thank you for the love of the garden and the keen madness of it all; from the love of brilliant colored flowers to the simplicity of picking and eating snacks right out of the garden. May I do my part and pass that passion on to another generation.

Blessings on your daffodil lined journey to heaven,

Grandma, Lucille Hogan- March 1918 to April 14, 2012.


Garden Resolutions

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I really tend to think about how I can better something… in manageable chunks. Not a one liner that sets me up for discouragement.  

For all gardeners, hope springs eternal and thinking about what we want to do in the garden feeds that hope that continually filters through the seasons to come. As we begin the new year, think more  new inspirations rather than resolutions. Inspire to learn, do and create something new in the garden. Odds are it will be much more rewarding than dieting!

 Take a Class:  In the garden, learning never stops. Take a class on a garden subject that you have always wanted to learn. Resources are bountiful in the pacific northwest. Join me for some upcoming seminars at the Tacoma Home and Garden Show the last week in January, (www.otshows.com)  January 26th, 2012 at noon: Landscaping with Herbs, Many herbs are overlooked for their texture and beauty that create fragrant hedges, mixed borders, container gardens and more. All sizes and styles of gardens come into play. Just imagine a French Provençal style garden with the purple haze of lavender or a Mediterranean garden with fragrant rosemary. Herb varieties can bring classic style and take the center stage in many designs.  January 27th, 2012 at noon: Garden Design DIY, A beginners guide and creative approach to designing a garden. Practical tips to get the process going successfully. Don’t just create a landscape; plant a garden with texture, dimension and longevity. Make it yours. Easy ideas to incorporate the practical aspects to create the garden you have always dreamed of. Shortcuts to designing by using photographs and many more insider tips. January 28th at 3 pm: Garden Borders from Dull to DramaHow-to tips and ideas for editing existing mixed garden borders; easy ways to re-invent without having to completely re-do. Learn tricks of the trade and create fabulous mixed borders. Peel back the layers of plantings; discover what is missing and where to add puddles and pockets of color and texture and drama! Photos inspirations and step-by-step instruction to become your own designer.

Go Organic: Learn to tolerate a few weeds and nibbled leaves. Be good to the environment and use organic means of controlling pests and problems. Start with natural lawn care. It can be the biggest water hog and chemical demanding part of the garden. Learn how and practice management of an environmentally friendly yard. The experts are at Seattle Tilth! (www.seattletilth.org)

Take a Garden Tour: Visit gardens like Lakewold (www.lakewoldgardens.org ) or the Chase Garden (www.chasegarden.org)  for inspiration of classic designs.  Join the Northwest Perennial Alliance (www.northwestperennialalliance.org) and receive their open gardens book. This is an opportunity when local gardeners open their private spaces. Take notes and pictures, it is one of the best learning opportunities to see what grows well in this area and enjoy the peak season of gardens.

Plant Vegetables: Imagine tomatoes fresh off the vine and leaf lettuces from the garden. This season, find a sunny spot and plant some vegetables to enjoy what the garden can give back to you.  Hit the seed racks this spring for lots of variety. Here is a short list of some of my favorite “go-to” suppliers  Ed Hume Seeds (www.humeseeds.com) , Renee’s Garden (www.reneesgarden.com) and Territorial Seeds (www.territorialseed.com)

Plant Natives: In garden designing, I see more and more homeowners looking to eliminate native areas…such a shame. Many natives are desirable plants that are beautiful in landscape design, either as a backdrop to more “cultured” plantings,  mingled in mixed beds and borders or creating a “finished edge” to the beginning of natural woodlands.  Take time to learn more about natives and plant them. Local nursery with lots of info: Woodbrook Nursery (www.woodbrooknativeplantnursery.com)

Keep a garden calendar or journal: It can be as simple as an ordinary calendar. Write down something every day about the garden, it can be regarding the weather, a new bird sighting, the day something bloomed and any tasks done. It will be a valuable tool for seasons to come. Indulge in a new journal with the beautiful artistry of Jill Bliss (www.jillbliss.com)

Compost: Compost, Compost…every garden should have a compost bin! Basic compost info from Creative Gardener FYI makeyourowncompost

Mulch more, Weed less: Put your garden on a good organic mulch diet,  the reward will be healthy garden soil. Mulch at least 3 to 4 inches to control weeds too. More from Creative Gardener FYI in defense of weeds2

Teach a child the Wonders of Gardening: whether your own, a grandchild, or volunteering at school, there is real joy in working with children in the garden. Seeing the simple act of planting through a child’s eyes will renew your viewpoint as well.

Visit the garden show: The perfect way to spend a February day is the Northwest Flower and Garden show in Seattle.(www.gardenshow.com).  Nurseries have tickets on sale now…steal ideas from the gardens, shop the amazing booths and make your garden beautiful. Plan your weekend at the show and come and visit me Saturday February 11th on the DIY stage for one of my favorite subjects:  Herbs!! The top multi-purpose herbs to grow in your garden this year.

Think Design: “The plain hard work that goes into an unplanned and non-descript garden might just as well go into a planned one.” (Summer 1953, George Avery Jr. the Brooklyn Botanic Garden). The garden design studio is moving to Tacoma!  Join me for design sessions in my new space starting in February. Bring your photos and ideas and we will create! The new space will also include vintage garden books for sale from my amassed collection, herbs and favorite perennials,  plus garden findings. It’s “All About the Garden”. Stay tuned for more information.


Future sustainable gardener

Can’t resist another  kid story, somehow being a grandma gives inalienable rights. My granddaughter Alexis was visiting over the weekend and as always,  loves to be outside chasing the dogs, riding her bike and gardening. Since she was tiny,  she puttered around with me, even when she was just an infant, she would sit outside on a blanket while I gardened. I often wonder if that is how she spouts plant names so readily, by hearing me mutter them under my breath as I worked away.  She is an awesome weeder, greenhouse sweeper,tag sorter, container garden waterer and even helped plant my whole veggie garden this year. (Probably another post on our latest harvest of potatoes, stay tuned.)

Last Saturday,  we were working outside, I was raking leaves and trying to win a battle against blackberries along the property line.  I hear Alexis, excited and yelling, “Nana, look what the rain left for me.” She had gone down to the potager and found her watering can had filled with rain water. She said, “the rain left me water for your plants”. She proceeded to water my container gardens with her little green watering can. Hours later, as we were cleaning up the tools for the day, her watering can was perched on a stone wall near the garden, I asked her to put it away. She told me no…that she needed to leave it out so the rain could give her more water. I really can’t argue with that logic.

It also gave me a moment to ponder about what I do and the business-side of gardening; sometimes it can feel a bit over-processed and uptight.  Once in a while,  it is nice to think like a 4-year-old… “Look what the rain left for me…”

 


More…pondering of Squash

A recent trip to the grocery store brings about the inspiration for this story. As I was in line to pay, the customer in front of me was purchasing acorn squash. This time of year, they are piled high in produce bins alongside the multicolored gourds, ornamental corn, and mini pumpkins. The teenager bagging the groceries held up one of the acorn squash, surveying it, and asked, “What do you do with these?” The purchaser replied she was going to make baked stuffed squash to which the perplexed teen replied I thought these were only for Halloween decorations. Hmmm, so what do we really do with squash and what the heck are gourds anyway?

Cucurbitaceae is a genus of annual plants that crawl around taking up space with their languishing vines and produce fruits at the base of the blossoms. A plant family with a broad range of over 700 species that includes cucumbers, pumpkins, melons, and squash.

Summer Squash

These are the earliest picked of the group and include cucumbers, zucchini, and crookneck. They are harvested when the seeds are immature inside and the flesh is still tender and edible. The vines are more bush-like and do not take up as much space in the garden. These can be harvested anytime they are showing their full color and size.

Gourds

These are hard-shelled with little flesh inside, they dry and preserve well. In history, they have been used as musical instruments, spoons, bowls, and as a sponge (the luffa gourd). Ornamental gourds are grown most often for decoration and have many types of usual colors, shapes, and warty texture making them prized for fall decorations. Gourds are ready to harvest from the garden when the stems dry out and turn brown. Leave a few inches of stem attached to prevent rotting.

Pumpkins

They get a class all their own by the very nature of their popularity. As noted by my previous post, they also get a post all their own! This bright orange harbinger of autumn are typically thought of for decorating but the smaller sugar pumpkins are flavorful when the pulp is baked to the consistency of pudding and used in soups, cakes, breads and pies. Harvest pumpkins when the color is deep and rich and the outside is hard. Leave 3 to 4 inches of stem attached to prevent premature rotting at the stem end.

Winter squash

These fruits have harder skins that need a longer growing period. Hubbard, butternut, and acorn are a few familiar ones. Winter squash are warm-season plants. They differ from summer squash because they are harvested in the mature fruit stage; picked when the seeds inside are fully mature and the skin has hardened into a tough rind. Most varieties can be stored for use throughout the winter. Typically, they are cut open and baked to soften the insides with spices or meats to season them. Most have a nutty flavor and tend to pick up other flavors easily.

So really, what do you do with acorn squash?

Baked Acorn Squash

This is a recipe from childhood. I remember the warmth of the kitchen and the aroma of maple syrup as my mom would bake up acorn squash as a side dish for dinner.

One acorn squash, cut in 1/2

 2 tablespoons butter, softened

 2 tablespoons brown sugar

 2 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scoop the seeds and stringy pulp out of the squash halves and discard. Lightly score the inside halves with a knife. Combine the brown sugar, butter, syrup in a small mixing bowl. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Rub and coat the cleaned inside cavities of the squash with the butter mixture. Place them on a baking sheet, cut side up. Bake for about 1 hour or until the squash is tender when pierced with a fork.

 

 


Pumpkins from garden to table

pile-o-pumpkins

I love this time of year and all the piles  of pumpkins in stores and the u-pick farms.

It’s time for fall harvests and pumpkins are everywhere.  In the garden, nothing delights kids more than to see bright orange fruits peeking out from under a vine.  Growing pumpkins is not for every garden. The sprawling vines take over, under and all around a garden space. In my small Potager, (kitchen garden) in the midst of everything else I want to grow, I always make room for a pumpkin plant or two. This year, I had one vine dangle over the top of the fence with a small pumpkin hanging on for dear life!

grow where I may

 

 

Even though it is out of season to talk about growing them, here are some tips to consider when planning your next growing season.  To help reign in the long pumpkin vines here are a few tricks I use to conserve space. As soon as I see a softball sized fruits forming, I cut off any new growth beyond that fruit. This allows it to grow bigger and ripen, rather than have the plant continue to put energy into forming more. I also gently move the vines as they are growing and start to form a large spiral (without breaking them) rather than allow the vines to take off in all directions. Turn growing pumpkins occasionally to avoid them being lopsided. Leave them on the vine as long as possible if they are still green to promote ripening. Harvest pumpkins when the vine begins to die out and the pumpkin is showing its full, rich color.

Pumpkin varieties vary from good carving to the sweet varieties for eating. Carving pumpkins are typically grown for size and not for baking. Carvers to grow include “Howden”, “Racer” and “Connecticut Field”. For baking choose, the Cinderella pumpkin “Rouge VIF D’Etampes”, “Small Sugar” and “SnackJack”. Unique novelties to grow are “Lumina” (white skinned, yellow flesh), “Baby Boo”, “Jack-B-Little” and “Jarrahdale”

Harvest and enjoy!

Recipes to try:

Pumpkin Mush

Pick the sweet varieties for baking. The pulp can be used in pies, soups, cakes and cookies.

Cut the pumpkin in half. Remove the seeds and fibers. Place the cut halves on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 350° oven for 20 to 60 minutes (depending on the size). The pumpkin is done when the skin is brown and you can easily push a fork through it. Allow to cool and scoop the flesh out of the skin. Puree or mash it. It should have a consistency of pudding. To preserve, pack into freezer bags in 2 cup quantities. Two cups of mash will equal about a 16 ounce can. Use in pies, soups, and cookies.

Pumpkin Soup

This brings back memories when I was little girl in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. We once had a Thanksgiving dinner at the Old Salem Inn. As a kid the thought of pumpkin soup sounded weird, but the taste was good!

2 tablespoons butter

2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin

3 cups half and half milk

2 teaspoons chicken bouillon granules

½ teaspoon pepper

1/8th teaspoon powdered allspice

1/8th teaspoon ginger

Salt to taste

In a saucepan, melt the butter, and then add the pumpkin. Stir well and add remaining ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly. Lower heat and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls or mugs. If desired,  top with a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, croutons, a dollop of sour cream,  fresh parsley or small snips of chives.


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