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BONNIE'S GARDEN--Squashed....

One of the first summer veggies to ripen in my garden (besides the odd cherry tomato or two) is yellow squash or zucchinis.  To make sure I get the harvest I want (you know, so much it’s piled all over the kitchen counter and your co-workers start to back away when you show up with grocery bags in hand), there are several things I do.  The first thing is to feed my plants on a regular schedule.  I’m an organic gardener so I find a good organic food and follow the label directions.  When my plants are beginning to bloom and are producing both male and female flowers (the males are on long slender stems while the females have the swollen fruit at the base), I make sure I see some bees in and around.  If I don’t, (and we’re certainly having bee challenges these days), then I step in and hand-pollinate the flowers.  I do this by taking a small paint brush early in the day and going from flower to flower.

Around the first week or two in June I begin to monitor my plants a little more closely, looking for the first signs of squash bugs.  Usually the nymphs that wintered over in the soil are crawling out now looking for a nice tender leaf to lay their eggs on.  If I see a bug or two on a stem or leaf, I pick it off and destroy it (yes, I wear gardening gloves because I’m just not squishing bugs with my bare hands, thank you).  I also begin checking the tops and backs of the leaves for eggs.  Squash bugs lay in convenient little clusters of 20 to 25 little gold/orange/bronze eggs.  I remove these by either gently tearing that part of the leaf away or by using the sticky side of duct tape.  Dispose of the eggs in plastic bags.

So I’ve fed, pollinated (if necessary), and battled the squash bugs.  Now, I have the harvest I was expecting.  So what to do with it?  When I’ve sautéed it, casseroled it, made it into breads and muffins and given away until my neighbors cringe when they see me coming, I freeze it.

Start with fresh picked squash.  Frozen squash is only as good as what you start with.  I put a pot of water on the stove to bring to a boil.  While I’m waiting, I rinse the squash with cool water, trimming off the ends and cutting into serving size pieces.  When I have a full rolling boil, I toss in the squash, bring back to a boil and simmer for five minutes.  I drain the water and immediately put the squash into ice water.  This stops any further cooking.  If you don’t blanch your squash first before freezing, your squash may wind up discolored, off in flavor or mushy in texture.

When the squash is completely cool, I pack into freeze bags, label with the date and freeze. The whole process takes 20 or 25 minutes tops.  The pay-off comes in January when you’re eating your favorite squash casserole (you know the one I mean—squash and onions layered with white sauce, cheese and topped with cracker crumbs).  Yum.

Posted: 6/21/2014 by Bonnie Pega | with 2 comment(s)
Comments
Bonnie Pega
Hi Cynthis,

Hot sauce or a generous dash of cayenne pepper will help to deter most warm-blooded critters--rabbits, deer or squirrels. You will need to reapply on a regular basis--and particularly after a rain, but it should help considerably.
6/28/2014 5:56:26 PM

Cynthia
I planted yellow and green zuchhini squash from seed. Plants are small but had produced some flower buds which were getting bigger. Went out to check garden yesterday and most buds have been removed by a clean bite off. Any ideas who did this? So mad went back out and sprinkled liquid hot sauce on plants. Will this help?
6/26/2014 3:47:34 PM

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