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Bedford Ramblings
Steve Mills

Morning after our garden club meeting. Developments and ideas.

Posted Saturday, August 16, 2014, at 1:38 PM
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  • When we started the garden area, we had younger, more physically active members in favor of it, but they are not participating as they once were. Those of us who remain are not so physically active, so WE NEED NEW BLOOD!

    Sound like a vampire don't I? That seems popular these days, but we don't need spilled blood. We need it in healthy bodies.

    Pulling the weeds will help momentarily but we really need to put another layer of weed barrier, like 6 or more pages of newspaper and then a layer of mulch. Then we need to start adding to the plants.

    That is where color and seasons, and the hot environment started to make things interesting. We all want to share what we have, but that does not always lend itself to color groupings or the best plants for the mini-environment we have there, so the discussion bounced around quite a bit.

    If I caught all the discussions going around, some of us are bringing bulbs and perennials with the emphasis on flowering. Others talked about a having a section of naturalized flowers that will re-seed themselves. That section needs to be defined in some way so the volunteers don't weed them before they get going.

    ChefGrape suggested some vegetables (which I like too) so if we do that type of demonstration garden, we certainly need to identify it so well meaning folks don't plant their donations there, weed what should not be weeded, and we can prepare the soil appropriately.

    The veggie area might be a good time for a raised bed, so it is easily tended. If someone has the building material appropriate for something like that, it would be deeply appreciated.

    In fact, since art is emphasized at the park it would be a natural to demonstrate and educate not only about gardening, but maybe re-purposing, recycling, and being creative artistically.

    Just Google 'repurposed garden beds' and click on images. You will get a plethora (a lot, for us here on the hill) of examples that are fun, colorful, affordable, functional, accessible and inspiring. Try it.

    Old bathtubs can be a good alternative between regular container gardens and raised beds. I have seen the backs of pickup trucks used, canoes/boats, tires, cattle watering tubs, etc.

    It could be a creative, artsy and functional area that demonstrates horticultural therapy options for those who have physical challenges, features unique tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, herbs, flowers, etc., etc..

    What a fun, educational exhibit it could be.

    The area has full sun, can get quite warm and unless regularly watered, the plants need to be able to handle dry periods. Previous experience shows that only a few volunteers are there on a semi-regular basis and they cannot be expected to water everything so... the plants need to tolerate some drought, or we need to come up with a better watering system.

    Most of the full sun, native plants I have can become noxious weeds quickly. The ones I have with pretty foliage, small flowers and pretty berries are all understory shrubs, meaning they seem to do well in shade. Will they survive full sun? I don't know but it might be worth trying.

    I will try fig tree but it needs a little babying with water to get settled in. After a year it will survive with emergency watering during hot dry periods. It may not thrive and produce figs while under stress, but I think the sheltered area will protect it from the extreme cold snap we had last winter, so it might actually do well.

    Maybe we could map out the area and specify places to place iris, daffodils, shrub perennials and leave the map in a specific place so those who have a donation can come and place them with some version of organization.

    If visitors/donators have something that does not fit into the norm, or a new idea for a garden bed/sculpture, etc., we could leave a number or email address for them to contact us.

    I can also create a web page with blog to keep track of the garden progress. Would that be of value?

    What other thoughts do you have?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Aug 16, 2014, at 1:33 PM
  • By the way, some of this does not have to wait for next Spring. In fact, if we get the approval fro "creative" garden planters, we might be able to have a fall demonstration garden going in a few weeks.

    We could not only show what is possible for the second half of our regular year but also demonstrate season extension for after frost. The area is so sheltered that I suspect we could probably grow things year 'round there.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sat, Aug 16, 2014, at 1:38 PM
  • I'll try to get up to the garden this week and take a look..It will help for ideas if I know what I'm dealing with...Maybe part of our next social can be there before we go eat or whatever we plan...I'll check on some railroad ties and edging I may be able to get for either a raised bed or borders...and if anyone has a pile of bricks stuck somewhere they can be used for small paths and edges...that BANANANANA! (its very long and big) squash will get its turn in the oven in a day or two..I'm not sure if I have ever tasted one...we would get a lot of odd squash and stuff for decorating buffet and such around the fall holidays...can't remember if we cooked a few or not...I'm sure those apprentices practiced on a few.

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Sun, Aug 17, 2014, at 10:07 AM
  • I posted a new picture of the variety of veggies at the meeting last week.actually, many of the tomatoes were courtesy of Palindrome as well.

    Most of the tomatoes will continue to ripen once a few have started so those green ones will be ripe in a few days. All of these are heirloom veggies so some were taking them home to save seeds.

    Those seeds in the banana squash should be good to re-plant ChefGrape but I confirmed that I have more in the package as well. Remind me to bring some seeds in next meeting.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Sun, Aug 17, 2014, at 8:45 PM
  • I can't wait to see how the Banana squash turns out--maybe replace the cushaw squash? Save the seeds!

    I figure that there is no harm trying to get the watermelon plant going now. It's from some old seeds I was cleaning out that had no way of sprouting--except every single seed did haha. If they were new seeds I prbably wouldn't have a single one germinate, go figure....

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Mon, Aug 18, 2014, at 6:04 AM
  • How did you like the Cushaw for taste espoontoon? I have several of those from one plant. It may not be as long as the banana but it probably weighs in around the same.

    It grew inside a tomato cage and I am afraid I will either have to cut the cage or cut up the squash at harvest time.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Mon, Aug 18, 2014, at 6:29 AM
  • Oh I'll definitely save the seeds on that banana squash...and bring some in next meeting...I'm sure it's loaded with them so keep the ones you have Mr. Steve and I'll bring these...I'm hoping these Japanese eggplants have a few seeds...I picked some up at Whole Foods Saturday I think they are organic but not real sure...they sure are beautiful tho..perfect ripeness...I got ratatouille on my mind...but most likely I'll just roast them with these golden beets and a few hunks of that banana squash for a veggie dinner.

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Mon, Aug 18, 2014, at 9:26 AM
  • I like cushaw squash a lot because it seems to easily absorb whatever spice you are cooking it with . I'd like to find an easy cushaw squash canning recipe...if I can find the time to do some more canning. I'm behind on pickles right now.

    -- Posted by espoontoon on Mon, Aug 18, 2014, at 1:33 PM
  • How would you compare the taste of it plain, like butternut, acorn, or....?

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:22 AM
  • I got small rows of bok choy, choy sum, Chinese broccoli, napa cabbage, carrots and swiss chard in before these rains moved in on Sunday.

    I originally covered them lightly with some wilted weeds and grass to shade from the sun but now I am glad I did it for the second reason of protecting it from heavy burst of rain.

    Since they were planted shallow, there is a good chance they would have been splashed out of the soil. So far, so good.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:28 AM
  • Well the banana squash is in the oven...we will see when it cools what basic flavor it has and what I can make with it and how it can be flavored with spice etc.....watch this space for updates!

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 12:41 PM
  • Hmmm, I thought I responded to this by cell phone but....

    Anyway, did it look to be mature?

    How about the seeds? Plump, at least 1/8 inch thick?

    Just trying to figure out if I waited long enough to pick it.

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 5:04 PM
  • It was perfectly ripe...the seeds were large and firm...I cut it in 4 quarters, deseeded it flipped it cut side down on a half sheet pan added some water to the pan and baked it at 350 degrees for about 1 1/2 hrs, let it cool then took a large spoon and scraped the flesh out of the skin...

    So far with no seasoning it tasted squashy (mild winter squash taste more delicate and lighter flavored then say butternut squash) and had the texture of mashed potatoes...I cooked it this way to make a squash pie and so I could freeze some for later use in soup or fritters etc....

    Next time I'll peel it, chunk it, season it, coat it with olive oil and roast some with other veggies like beets, potato, and various root vegetables.

    I saved all the seeds...maybe a couple 100 were in it!

    I found the total experience to be delightful from getting the seeds out by squeezing them from the inner twine like core to dealing with such an enormous fruit...as a chef any uncommon food item is always a treat.

    Seems like this particular squash, Cucurbita maxima is 1 of 5 of its species and dates back over 4000 years. Interesting as it was to me, most intriguing was finding out that Native Americans cultivated it and gave the seeds that started it to be commercially introduced in the 19th century.

    -- Posted by chefgrape on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 9:16 PM
  • Wow! I have never read such a description of preparing squash.

    You are chef in words as well. Thanks!

    -- Posted by stevemills on Tue, Aug 19, 2014, at 10:25 PM
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