Monday, February 22, 2010

Harvest Monday - Forcing Roots

Tips of hamburg rooted parsley show their greens.

-- edited to include a new link - check it out.--

If you don't want to set a coldframe or polytunnel to winter greens, you can set up a cellar. Still sound like work? Okay, lots of roots store for quite some time at the back of the fridge. When you are ready to eat some fresh leaves, take out these roots, put them in a pot of moist sand and stick them some place warm. You can even eat part of the root and still get a harvest. These 'carrot' rooted parsley sprouts are coming out of about a quarter inch of crown at the top of the root that is placed in a shallow dish of water. That's enough parsley for most recipes - not tabouleh; I would have had to save a couple inches more root for that.

Greens of certain plants are bitter such as chicory. To make sweeter, more tender shoots, force in darkness. Chicons, sold in supermarkets as Belgian Endive are made from varieties of chicory such as Witloof de Brussels.

Here some roots to force for edible greens:

1. Beets
2. Hamburg Parsley
3. Celariac - strongly flavoured, try dark forcing or use sparingly
4. Carrot - never tried them though there are many references to eating the greens*.
5. Dandelion - I like dark forcing this one
6. Chicory - dark forcing produces tender, pale shoots that are less bitter
7. Scorzonera and probably Salsify
8. Turnip
9. Raddish
10. Horseradish - young shoots have a strong, interesting flavour.
11. Sweet Potatoes** (Ipomoea batatas)- tips of shoots are edible, store cured roots in a warm location.
12. Onions and garlic

Other good candidates may be found in plants with edible greens / shoots that have roots that can be lifted and stored with relative ease. If you have a suggestion, add it in the comments. I'd love to try it.

* My research leads me to believe that eating carrot greens is good for you but they are a bit fiborous so there are various mentions of 'juicing' them. With new or marginal food, always do lots of triple checking and start with a small amount first.
** Don't eat regular potato Solanum tuberosum greens as they contain poisonous alkaloids which is why your mom always told you to cut the green parts off.

Harvest Day Roots of Fall

Eliot Coleman author of books about season extension and organic market gardening. Most libraries carry various titles.

High Desert Garden has a lovely post with great pictures of growing garlic shoots.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Uncovering Rare Treasures
Interview with Greg from Mapple Farms
Canadian Short Season Sweet Potatoes

Varieties grown at Mapple Farm. The 2 vertical tubers at the top centre are Georgia Jet (left) and Tainung 65 (right). Below them are (top to bottom): Hannah, Japanese Yam and Beauregard. The three on the right are (top to bottom): Carver, Frazier White and Superior. The three on the left are (top to bottom): Regal, Ginseng Red and Excel.

I can’t remember where I first heard that there was such a thing as short season sweet potatoes, but I do remember that shortly after I was feverishly searching for somewhere to get the fabled variety Georgia Jet. I found it at Mapple Farms, in New Brunswick, along with various other short season varieties, chufa, Chinese artichokes, and unique seeds such as Wonderberry and Mystery Keeper Tomato. He also sells Ken Allan’s singular book Growing Sweet Potatoes for the Home Garden, with special techniques for northern growers.


When did you develop a love of edible plants?

I've always enjoyed eating and have a strong "nature boy" streak. I worked in many restaurant kitchens in my younger days. Once I finally had my own land to grow on, kitchen gardening developed into a passion.

You supply a number of difficult to source tubers like Chinese artichokes, chufa and short season sweet potatoes, along with a list of exciting seeds. What made you passionate about Sweet Potatoes?

Vegetable gardening became such an obsession, I knew I wanted to eventually make it part of my life's work. From the start, I wanted not to duplicate others' work but to offer something different. Back in the 1980s, when I first learned about the possibility of growing sweets in the north, I jumped at giving it a try. I knew that practically no one else was doing it. Once I found out how surprisingly well they did, there was no going back.

For a first time northern grower of sweet potatoes, what is the most crucial piece of advice for success?

Providing enough heat is the prime constraint. In borderline areas, methods that employ row covers (of, for example, slitted clear plastic or porous spun-bound polypropylene) or hoop house structures and/or plastic mulches that raise soil temps can make a difference.

Among your buyers, what was the coldest postal code that requested slips?

I've sent slips to Alaska, the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. I have an increasing number of growers who treat the slips as they would tomato plants (that is, they pot them up and then sometimes pot them on) for greater flexibility in choosing optimum transplanting conditions, increased yield, earlier maturity and/or success with longer season varieties.

It seems that you are always trying out new varieties of short season sweet potatoes, could you share some of their quirks, such as the fastest to bulk up, the tastiest, best for making certain dishes, or most interesting foliage?

Georgia Jet is by far my most popular variety. It does seem to be the most cold tolerant and the earliest to produce a crop. The one variety that occasionally out-yields it is Tainung 65, the longest vining type I've seen; it has striking bronze leaves and purple stems in low light (indoor) conditions. Superior sports attractive ivy-like foliage as does Ginseng Red but with even greater indentations. Japanese Yam and Carver have the most intense supporters by those after great flavor.


Mapple Farms Online Brochure

Monday, February 15, 2010

Harvest Monday - truancy...

I could have taken a picture of some of my snowed over greens, or the sage bravely sticking branches out of our unusually light snow load or a root but instead I wrote about cabbage - see below. If you are hankering for a harvest monday installment, see Daphne's Dandelion (who writes about soil blocking - guess it's that truancy time of year) for links to garden bloggers in attendance.

In other exciting news, my interview with Greg from Mapple Farms, supplier of short season sweet potatoes, rare tubers and seeds will be posted soon!


My old blog posting on growing Sweet Potatoes in Ottawa.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Bring on the broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower

Blush savoy - 4 out of 5 slugs agree that this is one tasty cabbage.

I was recently asked a question. Actually it was more of a comment: "Broccoli, bah, never get the darn things to grow."

I chose to hear, "Dear Ottawa Gardener, please impart on me what you have learned by trial and error about how to make both heading and flowering brassicas do their thing with style, at least most of the time."

I know most of us bloggers/blog readers are strapped for time, so I'll make this a choose your own adventure.

1. Tell me about heading brassicas please
2. Go to technique for spring planted broccoli and cabbage.
3. I would like to learn about fall brassicas or how to not fail.
4. I've given up, just give me some good alternatives.


Tell me about heading brassicas please!

Let's define this as members of the Genus Brassica whose main eaten part are a tight heart of leaves that surround a flower bud - cabbage, nappa cabbage, and brussel sprouts - or the flower bud itself - broccoli, cauliflower, and rapini. Within this group are mostly annuals and biennials.* The biennials require exposure to prolonged cold temperatures before they will flower. Cabbage and brussel sprouts are in this category** and if they succesfully overwinter, will send up a flower stalk in the spring. We don't want this to happen prematurely as it would arrest the development of the yummy part - the tight whorl of wrapper leaves.

Vernalization - for you latin geeks out there is when a plant will not intiate flowering until undergoing a period of cold. Vernus = spring.

Brussel sprouts, often seen in pictures dusted with snow to demonstrate their haridness, survive the Ottawa winter somewhat intact and begin to go fluffy, preparing for flowering.

The edible flowerbud types can either be annuals such as most broccolis and cauliflowers marketed to cold climes or biennial like some kinds of Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Purple Cape Cauliflower.

Just to be different, here is a savoy that has re-headed with several smaller heads after the main head has been cut.

For those of us with harsh winter climates, we have a hard time getting our brassicas to overwinter intact so the fact that there are Brassicas out there that will provide a nice early crop of purple florets may be filed under 'trivia.'

Psst: Hardy kale will produce edible flowerbuds in the spring too, even in Ottawa.

Techniques for spring planted broccoli and cabbage.

I discovered this by accident after starting a crop too early and then experiencing a delayed spring. While you are reading this, keep in mind that people don't normally grow broccoli and cabbage this way as it can potentially expose them to sufficient cold to make them button - or flower prematurely with teeny weeny heads. I have yet to experience this.

1. Start your cabbage and broccoli indoors at the same time you start your tomatoes which will be about 6-8 weeks before last frost. Get them growing strong and quickly.

Here they are stuffed in a small clementine crate filled with a plastic bag and some starter soil. They are in a sunny south facing window.

2. Harden them off by letting them spend some time outside during the day in a coldframe or other protected location. Plant outside when when they are approximately 4 weeks old, under some sort of cloche or row cover. These recycled pop bottles (what do my neighbours think of my scrounging around in their recycling?) work very well. I have also 'double' wrapped by putting them under a glass cold frame in their little pop bottle cloches. Don't forget to take them off or prop them open if the day is sunny / warm.

Notice the frost on the ground around this toasty little cloche?

3. You'll probably want to leave the cloche off entirely when nighttime temperatures are comfortably above freezing. This should give the cabbage and broccoli a good 6-8 weeks of cooler weather to develop into big plants.

This is the same broccoli pictured in the cloche above in early summer.

Despite the fact that my baby plants have been experienced both frost and snowfall, this technique has given me the biggest broccoli and cabbage heads. I have also transplanted indoor started plants after last frost, and have direct seeded with less stellar results. I am not sure why they don't 'button' but it may have something to do with not experiencing enough cold, being transplanted at a non vulnerable stage of development or the varieties choosen which are cold resistant. Whatever the reason, this has worked well for me. This early broccoli also experiences very little pest damage.

I would like to learn about fall brassicas or how not to fail.

A fall bounty of brussel sprouts, kale and chinese 'lettuce' cabbage.

I may be overselling it but if you live in an area that is highly seasonal with a short spring or hot summers then you may want to try planting tricky cole crops so that they mature in the cool temperatures of fall. Brussel sprouts, nappa and other oriental cabbages, and cauliflower are most succesful planted this way. This will mean planting mid-summer, somewhere between 12-8 weeks before first frost depending on the plant. You can direct seed but just make sure to keep the ground well watered. To avoid excessive slug attacks and cutworm cursing, you may want to start them indoors. When they are around 4 weeks old, transplant to their permanent location. If this is in a coldframe then you can often extend the growing season beyond first snowfall.

I've given up, just give me some good alternatives.

You're right if you think that these are amoung the prima donas of vegetables. The bugs think they are delicious, they are prone to a range of diseases and they tend to be heavy feeders. If after all your care, you boil up a bunch of broccoli only to find your pot filled with floating green catepillars (happened to a friend of mine), you may despair (or feed the whole mess to your chickens). Thankfully there are some easy going alternatives, namely the leaf crops.

Kale is extremely hardy and will overwinter in Ottawa. Not only does it provide lots of nutritious and tasty leaves that can be used in most of the ways that you would prepare cabbage, it is also highly ornamental. In the spring, the plant will produce broccolini buds then spicy flowers followed by crunchy, young seepods and seeds that can be sprouted or saved.

Red Ursa kale demonstrating four edible elements: flowers, seedpods, leaves and flowerbuds.

If you want to expand your brassica leaf horizons, try leaf broccoli, collards or couve tronchuda - the bok choy of B. oleracea, I have heard it called. I plan on trying that last one next year.

Collards - notice the variation in leaf colour and shape even though these came from the same packet.

Another tip: Brassicas generally prefer to grow in nuetral soil and may benefit from a bit of extra calcium which is why some people start them in eggshells though I find this impractical and a bit cramping for their root systems. They are said to grow best in mild climates with consistent water and fertility. I've noticed that the ones on the downslope of my raised bed get bigger.


* This 'footnote' has a picture

Nine star broccoli flowers in the second year to produce numerous white florets. As most of my gardening friends say, really it's more like cauliflower. It is considered a perennial in that if the plant is kept from going to seed, it will live for several years but it is more accurate to call it monocarpic meaning it will die after it has set seed.

Related post: Thoughts on overwintering brassicas

** Biennial brassics, especially those undergoing stress, can bolt to seed in the first year. I have had so called biennials live three or more years.


Did you notice that I somehow managed to not include a single red leafed Brassica in the whole post? You'll be reassured to know that almost all the above comes in fetching shades of maroon as well as green and silvery blue.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Aphid Massacre - overwintering peppers

Still alive and over the dark hill of December, rolling down into the sunshine of spring:

Scotch bonnet pepper, first year being overwintered. It got attacked by aphids and the cat likes to sit in the pot which explains the sticky fur on its larger leaves. Also notice the new shoots sprouting out of the stem.

I write a lot about overwintering peppers here, but in the meantime, let me introduce you to the method's biggest foe for me: the aphid. My approach to their eradication is three prong. The first two are in the shape of my index finger and thumb squishing them as carefully but thoroughly as I can without damaging the baby leaves. No, I don't find it particularly yucky. Pop, squish, squish... You can wear gloves if you like. The other prong is that when I water, which is infrequently, I put in a bit of liquid soap and coat the leaves. About half an hour later, I wash them off. This is easiest to do in the shower at night so the leaves are dry by the time they see sun again in the morning.

If you look closely, you can see the aphid I am just about to squish, along with many others sucking away on the leaves and stems.

This three prong approach seems to work fairly well for me as I have yet to lose a pepper because of aphid or spider mite infestation. In the summer, the pests are quickly brought under control by beneficials. Only one of my peppers had aphids this year so it is relegated to the basement where it is receiving very sparse sun from a north facing window.

Proof is in the picture - this plant is getting cool, indirect light. The jalapeno beside it did not survive but I understand they are not as amiable to overwintering.

Now, I know I am implying that overwintering peppers is fun and easy (it is) but I have only tried with smaller fruited varieties of both hot and sweet so have no idea what it would be like to try overwintering bell peppers. An interesting alternative is to try to overwinter cuttings instead of the whole plants. Something I would like to try next year.


Hot pepper loves talk pests on Gardenweb

Wow, these Gardenweb pepper enthusiasts do some cool propagation tricks. Check out the air layering into plastic beer cups half way down this thread.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Harvest Monday - Pea Shoots

I had some aging peas left over from last year and decided to test their germination with an eye on eating them.


Did I get descent germination: Check
Tasty Pea Shoots for my efforts: Double Check

Pea shoots and tendrils are a trendy addition to salads and stirfries. I've noticed that most recommended varieties are those with edible pods which may be because the shoots are less fiborous or sugary. Some common recommendations include Oregan Sugar Pod and Cascadia. If you are very interested in the tendrils then hypertendril varieties such as Sugar Lace will provide lots of those.

I just used a common shelling pea: Green Arrow. It took two weeks to grow these babies to usable size in a south facing window.


Article on Pea Shoots from the Cooperative Extension Washington State University

Daily Gardener has a nice pictorial on growing snow pea shoots

If you are interested in peas, then check out Daughter of the Soil, a blog with the same obsession. Scroll down this post for a look at a hypertendril pea shoot.

Agriahaiti - Ontario Asian Seed source, sells a variety for pea shoots. Interestingly, they say it has no or few tendrils. They are currently out of stock of Dou Miao 1

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Stephen's Edimental Oasis - The Interview

I was impressed by Stephen's knowledge and love of all things edible from our very first internet meeting. If I ask a question about an obscure plant, I can bet that he will be amoung the first to respond. In fact, I can safely say that his garden in Norway is amoung the top that I would like to visit in the world.

This is the second interview in a series that I am doing with great gardeners and growers, including local seed and plant suppliers. For more, click the interview tag at the bottom.


What brought you to gardening?

Discounting the Strawberry patch I had in my parents’ garden and the fact that my Dad has always grown vegetables on a small scale, my interest really started developing when I was a student doing a one year Msc in Norwich, England. I got in with a crowd who were interested in green issues, started to eat wholefoods, bake bread, learn the names of birds and plants, that kind of thing. I then moved to Edinburgh in Scotland to study, became a vegetarian and, not having a garden, I started growing Basil in my office (still do that today!). I had a room in a flat, living in with my landlord. There was a small back garden and as he didn’t use it, I asked if I could grow a few vegetables. He agreed, but a few months later he suddenly announced that he was selling the house and I’d have to find somewhere else. Disaster! Well, it actually turned out fine as when the young lady who eventually bought it came round to view the flat, she was looking for a lodger and I was sold with the flat as live-in lodger/gardener…

I got in with a crowd who were interested in green issues, started to eat wholefoods, bake bread, learn the names of birds and plants, that kind of thing[...] became a vegetarian and, not having a garden, I started growing Basil in my office (still do that today!)


I cycled everywhere at that time (still do) and had a bicycle trailer, the Bike Hod, still available today almost 30-years on ( I used to get manure from a local farm with that! Then, I remember one Xmas I got on the train with my bike in Manchester heading back to Edinburgh with another young guy, Dave du Feu, who was and still is leading the Edinburgh Cycle Campaign (Spokes), one of my heroes. We chatted all the way back to Edinburgh and it turned out that he knew my girlfriend. He introduced me to organic raised bed gardening, a method of intensive vegetable production and he also told me about HDRA (Henry Doubleday Research Association), the leading UK organic gardening association and, in particular, founder Lawrence Hills ( I became fascinated by Hills and visited HDRA’s research grounds at Bocking in Essex, where I met the great man briefly.


Whilst in Edinburgh, I also got involved in a group called FROG (Forth Region Outwork Group), a group that did voluntary work on nature reserves throughout Scotland at weekends. I learnt a lot on those trips, particularly about wild plants.

Then, in 1981, I started looking for jobs. Maggie Thatcher had arrived and was cutting research posts in my area (oceanography) and the only jobs around were related to feasibility studies for dumping of radioactive waste in the deep ocean. As someone who had taken part in protest marches against a planned nuclear power station not far from Edinburgh, this kind of career wasn’t really for me. My Head of Department had been to Norway and suggested I applied there. Thought that would be fun for a couple of years. Two weeks later I had a job in Trondheim and I’m still here and still in the same job.

Vegetarianism was very much a small underground movement [in Norway][...] Supermarkets carried very few vegetables at that time - cabbage, carrots and a couple of others. Therefore, it was a matter of survival to grow-my-own.


However, it was very different here in Norway to the UK at that time. Vegetarianism was very much a very small underground movement whereas just across the North Sea there were already over 1 million vegetarians. Supermarkets also carried very few vegetables at that time – cabbage, carrots and a couple of others. Therefore, it was a matter of survival to grow-my-own. We rented a flat to start with, the main criteria being that there should be a garden that we could use. It wasn’t easy, but we finally found a fantastic place – a flat in a large log cabin style house set in several acres of ground and I could use as much land as I wanted and there were fruit bushes (redcurrants and blackcurrants)and plum trees which we could help ourselves to! This was paradise…. However, we only stayed there for a couple of years until we bought our own place, but I left my mark as Lawrence Hills’ Bocking 12 Comfrey plants survive to this day!


I soon discovered the newly started local group of the Norwegian Useful Plants Society (the over 100-year old Nyttevekstforeningen). That first spring, I joined the group’s annual spring foraging excursion. The trips were organised along the shoreline, where the largest plant diversity is to be found. The foraging was expertly lead by co-founder of the local group, Jan Erik Kofoed. The best of both the local land plants were demonstrated and Jan Erik also took a very cold dip into the fjord to retrieve a selection of the best edible seaweeds.


Another inspiration, in the mid-1980s, was when Roger Phillips’ book “Wild Food “ was published. At the end of the 1980s, I began to collect some of the local wild edibles and planted them in a bed in my garden. About the same time, I obtained a copy of ”Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World” through the Abundant Seed Foundation in the USA. This book was first published in 1919 and it can now be downloaded free from the Internet at It has notes on 3,000 different edible species from the whole world (NB! Some are no longer recommended as edible, so don’t use this work blindly!). To my surprise, many of the species were perennial plants commonly cultivated in Norwegian gardens. This sparked my interest in perennial vegetables in particular and having collectomania in my genes, the edible garden evolved with currently about 2,000 different edibles, mostly perennials.

Bird's eye view of his garden.

[...] having collectomania in my genes, the edible garden evolved with currently about 2,000 different edibles, mostly perennials.

If you were to give me a tour of your garden, where would we start and what would I see?

It depends on what length of tour you’d have time for! It’s the ethnobotanical side of my plants which I find particularly interesting – plants that tell stories – let’s give some examples; The Welsh onion (Allium fistulosum) – in Norway, we have a variety that has adapted to life on old turf roofs over hundreds of years, a place free from grazing animals and useful also as the succulent leaves protect against fire; we have Scandinavia’s oldest Garlic which is the best variety in my climate, found naturalized in the garden of a lady (after her death) who had taken it from Russia almost 100-years ago now; we have the Victory Onion, Allium victorialis, naturalized in the Lofoten Islands in Northern Norway and perhaps escaped in the past from the “onion gardens” which the Vikings are known to have maintained; the story of the Catawissa onion (as discussed on Homegrown Goodness); the Bly Orach (Atriplex hortensis) taken from Norway and maintained by a family in the US over 3 generations, last winter returned safely to Norway. With 2,000 varieties and a story/anecdote connected to the vast majority, you should probably set aside a couple of days for your tour. Just the record salad I put together in 2003 with 538 different edible plants from the garden took me a couple of days to put together….


You will see a mixture of conventional raised beds used for conventional vegetables and many “chaos beds” with a random selection of mainly perennial vegetables.

What is your current area(s) of interest right now?

My main interest nowadays is Permaveggies/Edimentals - permanent or perennial vegetables, most of which are actually unimproved wild plants.


My main interest nowadays is Permaveggies/Edimentals – permanent or perennial vegetables, most of which are actually unimproved wild plants. Despite this, many of them are surprisingly productive and tasty too. I have been trialling as many hardy species as I can get my hands on for some years now and this of course also involves trying out authentic recipes from their native countries – like Hosta sushi. Still it’s difficult to get hold of many of the species, particularly those that are not in cultivation as they aren’t ornamental enough. I maintain a list of wants from different parts of the world. This winter I’m trying in particular to get hold of various wild Japanese edibles (the general term for such plants is Sansai there, just means Wild Mountain Vegetables – Hosta is one of these). To do this I produce my own seed list for trading purposes (Link 4), I’m a member of various societies such as the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS), Alpine Garden Society (AGS) and the Scottish Rock Garden Club (SRGC), and also hang out on various Internet fora such as Homegrown Goodness and the SRGC forum, the latter the best Internet forum for gardeners interested in wild species.

New perennials for this year

I currently run the Norwegian Seed Savers, so I’m also interested in traditional Norwegian vegetables and this has lead to 3 projects I’m carrying out for the Norwegian and Nordic Seed Banks (both of which have a hand in the “Doomsday Vault” on the Norwegian arctic island Svalbard). These projects aim to collect old perennial onions and asparagus from around the country. I’ve also collected about 10 seed accessions of Hablitzia tamnoides (see Link 1 below) from the Nordic countries and we are seeing that there is quite some variability in the collected material and wild collected plants from the Caucasus. Next year, we will start planting the 100 or so Allium accessions (currently overwintring in my garden) at the botanic garden in Trondheim. This material will be grown out and compared, before establishing a permanent collection.


What do you see as the most important trend in edible gardening right now?

[...]Edible and ornamental gardening do not need to be two separate types of gardening and I hope to see that these edimentals grow in importance as food plants - some of them outyield conventional vegetables as wild plants!

The most important trend I’m seeing is the general increasing interest for growing vegetables. Over the last 20-years ornamental gardening has been at the forefront, but interest in growing vegetables is again rising in Europe and the biggest gardening association in the UK, the RHS (Royal Horticultural Society), has stated that for the first time in many years vegetable growing is back on top (but not yet in Norway). But, edible and ornamental gardening do not need to be two separate types of gardening and I hope to see that these edimentals grow in importance as food plants – some of them outyield conventional vegetables as wild plants! The Permaculture and Slow Food movements are to me important grass root phenomena currently on the increase and permanent vegetables will I think play a role in both, initially on a small scale in private gardens. It’s interesting to note that many of these permaveggies, which as I’ve said are essentially wild foraged, are also becoming more popular in the countries where they grow wild (e.g., Japan and Korea) as part of a back-to-nature movement and realization that wild food is more healthy. In fact, demand has increased so much that some of these plants are now cultivated and a few cultivars now exist. A lot of interesting work for someone interested in selecting perennial vegetables, but it’s a long job…


Links of articles by Stephen Barstow

1. Hablitzia article in Permaculture Magazine
2.Hosta Article on Homegrown Goodness

3.Record Salad
4. Stephen's" Seed and Plant Trade Lists

Monday, February 1, 2010

Harvest 'yucky veggies' Monday

Some tasty squash soup and my suspicious youngest daughter.

Mmm... homegrown squash made into a warming midwinter meal. Just imagine the aroma of pumpkins and spice wafting through the house. Thick chunks of bread liberally dunked with a nice glass of whatever you like to wet your pallette. A fire in the background and a good feeling inside that you have grown this bounty for your family...

... until reality hits and your children hop happily upstairs for a meal only to discover that it is something TASTY! I am borrowing this insult from a friend of mine's child. He does not eat tasty food. Tasty food is suspicious.

My youngest approached the chair with caution saying 'What is it, What is it,' over in and over in a slightly hysterical voice and then on hearing the answer says, 'Yech! I don't like squash. I wanted something good.' (not true - see evidence below) She poked it to see if it was alive maybe? A very small amount entered her mouth that was already screwed into a yucky face. She relaxes again. Wait, this isn't awful, not ice cream but not awful.

She finishes her meal and ask for seconds.

Here she is eating a RAW baby squash. Dirt, it seems, makes the best seasoning.


Winter squash is one of my favourite veggies to grow, not just because of it's dramatically large leaves that look like they are going to consume the rest of your garden, or the profusion of edible stuffable flowers, or the impressive ballooning of the fruit or even the delicious flavours in soups, pies, stews, pastas and so on, but because they are such an easy vegetable to store. Though some wash them after harvesting with a weak bleach solution and cure them for several weeks, I have yet to get around to doing that. Instead -

- I dust them off and stick them on a shelf in our dry, cool basement.

That's it. I've had squash, known for long storage, last easily until the new ones are harvested.

When I get the hankering for a pie or some fresh veg. in January, I take one off the shelf and enjoy cutting into the lush flesh. Since it's the seed gettin' time of year, may I recommend Waltham's Butternut if you are from around here. It performed well even in this poor year. I got my original stock from The Cottage Gardener.

More from me on Growing Squash