"Getting rid of everything that doesn’t matter allows you to remember who you are. Simplicity doesn’t change who you are, it brings you back to who you are."

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Squashed...In More Ways Than One (2013 Garden Review)

I have to say that overall last years garden sucked.  

Except for the flower patch.  I'm so glad I dedicated an area within the garden space just for flowers. 

The zinnias I planted from seed gave us so much pleasure providing endless bouquets for both our home and my office at work. 

Patients would comment all the time on the simple mason jars stuffed with flowers that I scattered around the office.  

"You grew these?"  I would hear that all the time.  Astonishment over something so simple.

I tease SM that someday, when I'm tired of vegetable gardening, I'll just plant nothing but flowers in those vegetable beds. 

Speaking of the veg garden...
A downright uninspiring year overall.

The Spring garden was really the only bright spot.  Carrots, lettuces, strawberries, onions...I did manage to get decent harvests from all that.  

But then we got hit with the June/July rains that completely killed whatever hopes I might have had for a Summer harvest.  

No green beans or summer squash last year.  (sob)  I did manage to get a few more bell peppers than normal but the tomatoes were disappointing again this year. 

By August the only thing I had growing out there was weeds, Bermuda grass and mosquito's.

I did get a surprise late in the season though.  

Or rather four surprises.

Four beautiful Pennsylvania Dutch Long Neck Squash.

These beauties were born back in September, rather late in the season for anything to come to maturity.  We're lucky to have a long growing season here but these puppies were still partially green when I was forced to pull them in October due to frost.

I'd read that winter squash store best inside your house at room temperature so I stuck them on a shelf and forgot about them until Thanksgiving. By this time they had all turned that mellow peach color (no green) and the skin had hardened up a bit.  I took two of them and sliced, boiled and mashed them up.  Butter, salt and pepper and "Yum"...SM and I have a new favorite winter squash. 

I cooked up the last two for our Christmas dinner.

PDLN's taste just like Butternuts.  A bit more stringy in texture, but who cares about that?  Butternuts have a really hard skin that's hard to peel.  These sliced up much easier.

I am into all things squashy. 

Summer Squash, Winter Squash...I love them all although I will admit to getting tired of zucchini.  But who doesn't?

I would grow squash 24-7 if I could.  But Mother Nature puts the kai-bosh on that by giving us a delightful little enemy down here in The South. 

The Squash Bug.  Otherwise known as the Freaken Little Bastards.

Did you know that Squash Bugs are my mortal enemy?  Oh yeah.  Death to all Squash Bugs. 

In years past, I have tried growing Patty Pan's (which SM loves) but I can't get them to mature before the SB's kill the plant off.  I've also tried growing other varieties of winter squashes and pumpkins but I just can't keep the bleeding SB's off them. 

The only ones I've managed to get to harvest are Waltham's Butternut (which didn't germinate this year) and now the PDLN's.  I ordered both from Baker Creek but I also saved as many seeds from the PDLN's I just cooked up.

So how was it in your neck of the woods this year? 
Was your garden squashed like mine?
Or did you have one of the best gardens you'd ever had?


  1. I love your flower photos. I too have to plant a blend: vegetables and zinnias and cosmos. I too would love to control squash bugs and cucumber beetles.. I am going to try light row covers. Perhaps that will work.

  2. Thank you! You identified our "volunteer" squash! Every year that we have been composting - 3 or 4 now, we get these volunteer squash that are very hardy. They must have been cross bred with something that we bought at the farmer's market. Like you, the squash that we actually planted didn't do well but these puppies are crazy. I had to give away a bunch. I've got some that I grated and froze, and some that I sliced and froze for this winter. I'm not sure that they won't turn to mush but what the heck, they were freebies!

    Try planting some arugula, spinach or spring greens for salad in the early spring. We sure got our money's worth from them this past year plus you don't have to start them inside.

    BTW, it was 12 degrees when I got up this morning here in northern VA. My cat Molly is currently warming her tummy here on the desk next to me. If she rolls over one more time, she's going to land on the floor! Lucy is smarter, she's already down there ;-)

  3. We had a pretty decent little garden this year- for the first time. Our cucumbers wouldn't stop and for once our tomatoes grew. We never have much luck with squash, but are hopeful next year will be the year. Our pepper plants grew- in fact our banana pepper just kept going. I think, though, it is because we put a new planting area in- the old planting area didn't produce much. Our beans got rained out to- we really only got a few handfuls. We are sending you good luck and well wishes for next year.

  4. I didn't get as much as I thought I would out of the garden. Some's better than nothin' though!
    Better luck to both of us next season.

  5. I have a nanofarm in which I grow a few - very few - veggies in pots. I mostly grow flowers and flowers and more flowers. I find going to the farmer's market with one of my dogs every Sunday more rewarding than growing veggies. I'd grow more zinnias, if they made you that happy.

  6. Although it started out looking sad, I ended up with a pretty good garden harvest. Except . . . for my squash this year. The last couple of years I've grown only Red Kuri because I LOVE the flavor. (Hubby tolerates squash but wouldn't miss it if it never again appeared on our table. What's wrong with the man??) None of mine even came close to maturing this year. Last year I had so many I couldn't give anymore away and they kept beautifully for me until nearly spring! Can you believe that? So this coming gardening season, I'm thinking I need to cover my (squash) bases a little better and maybe plant some of the varieties you suggested.

  7. I loved the pictures of your zinnias. I will be planting more zinnias here this coming spring, so I have extra to pick for bouquets and not interfere with my hummingbirds' zinnia nectar banquet. Am also planning on planting patty pan squash. Have never tried growing squash before. Around here I don't find them in the supermarket, and the ones that the produce stand had last year were bitter tasting for some reason.