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Sunday, January 9, 2011

January Fun with Autumn Harvested Mutt WInter Squash

I save seeds and don't keep labels straight. Or maybe it was the pollinators fault and the seeds I planted were not pure bred anyway. The larger winter squash varieties (including pumpkin) are vigorous growers, once they get going. They can grow fast enough to survive the hungry onslaughts of ground hogs and deer ... with some help from me to do some discouraging of those mammals.  These growing outside the garden fence help entertain the unwanted eaters and reduce the likelihood of them getting in the garden. And I usually get some fruit out of the deal. I found out that the squash fruit can heal from bites from the deer. The fruit scabs over.

This one has been in a cool room in the house (temperature range between 50 and 60 degrees F) since it was brought indoors late October, before the killing frost.

Here is the squash cut in half:
on the most green outside you can see light brown scars from animal bites

Humm, from the above photo, the size is unclear.

Here is another picture with a frame of reference.

 The depth doesn't show. I held a half over my belly and looked 6 month pregnant.

This squash is a "womb" with lots of umbilical cords! One leading to each and every seed! See next photo:

Most of the seeds are hidden under the strands (umbilical cords).
Black and white was good to shoot the next photo in:

AND here is a gross up, uh, that is close up of that hand full of seeds.

And here is one more, in color with most of the goo washed off:

One half went onto a sheet of freezer paper to cover the cut side and into the extra refrigerator in the basement.
One half got 3/4 processed or eaten. Some was cut into 1/2 x 1 inch cubes, steamed and buttered. Some was cut into 1x1/2x 4 inch strips and gently browned in olive oil. Some was cut up into bite sized chunks or long strips, steamed and placed on a cookie sheet and placed in the deep freeze. I am allergic to wheat, so these frozen chunks will be my "pasta"  to include in stir fries or to top salads later.

Goofy looking stringy parts and irregular chunks were cooked down with some cranberry and apricot in a low water pot. That will be combined with rice flour and egg and be cooked as a pudding later. All the previously mentioned winter squash flesh had been peeled. The green peels are so tender and thin that I chopped them up and will make whey based kimchee from them.

In addition to this midwinter eating, I enjoyed immature squash back in the fall.
The blossoms are edible too. They do not have much of a taste, but they do add color to salads.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Early winter weather had been mild five Decembers prior to 2010, making growing cool weather veggies a delightful experience. This is a plus that Climate Change brings. 

December 2010 was harsh with temperatures dipping down into the single digits. Abnormal weather extremes are thought to be a part of Climate Change.  The nice big green house usually available was unusable due to incomplete rebuilding. These plants were in pots for portability. They were to be examples  at a talk I was supposed to give on December 13th. (The event was canceled due to freezing precipitation in the forecast.)

Cold hardy plants are OK with their leaves freezing, but  they will die if  their roots freeze.  Since these were in pots and not in the ground,  they were at risk for freezing if left outdoors. So, I brought them in and they have managed to survive and grow a little under one screw-in type fluorescent bulb. A few leaves have been harvested every few days  for a small  fresh picked salad. The plants are  swiss chard, chinese cabbage, pok choi, and two other Asian varieties, their name forgotten for the time being. 

These plants were started  from seed in mid September. They would have been up to three times as big if they had spent their entire lives with their roots in the ground outdoors. The seed came from some local stores that carry a nice selection of seed for fall harvest. (By the calendar, winter starts on the solstice, which occurs December 20 or 21st.)

The presence of these plants seem to be helping me sleep better at night.  Plants use CO2 and exhale O2. So these green living things are adding quality to the air in my bedroom.
I sleep with my head under a tented sleeping bag.  I used to get kinda smothery feeling under there. I notice the absence of that feeling of not enough air since the plants have been sharing the room with me. 

"Why does she sleep with her head under the covers?" you may be wondering.
I do not have curtains in my room because I like to be awakened by the early morning sun. Neighbors have a light that shines into the window, annoying me; and the room gets chilly. The sleeping bag provides darkness and warmth.

From now on, I will have some kind of plants in my bedroom to improve the air quality and my sleep.