Tag Archives: zucchini

Fall…ing fast

Fall…arrived in lightning speed, so it seemed; preceded by a few cooler days of decent rain to relieve some of the stress of excessive smoke and thirsty trees all over the region, both urban and forest. The precious rain was a bit precocious in actually arriving as anticipated; taking itself further north for a few days, but it did finally arrive in time to help with the forest wildfires and start cleaning out the smoky air that kept recycling itself over the state.

The smokey skies, hot temperatures, and strange humidity initiated a very early onset of powdery mildew, ensuring the end-of-squash-and-melons in a very abrupt manner. With the return of some sun and a bit more warmth, the nasturtiums, lettuce, and kale are more vigorous, however. As the first rains arrived it was a dash to clip melons, spaghetti, and delicata squash from their deteriorating vines, and gather in any ripe tomatoes.

Winding down those squash, winding up the greens. Where’s Juni?

A first-year learning experience in a new garden; it was very productive in most ways, and less than anticipated in other ways, seemingly more related to sun and shade patterns than anything else. A few ideas are now being tucked away for reference for next year.

In some ways this “new” garden seemed easier to care for, compared to the former one, with seemingly less watering needed, although the overall bounty was a bit less. Whereas the high amount of loam in the old community garden was well drained and easy to dig, more clay in the present yard helped retain moisture longer, even if it made the ground a bit harder to work to start with. And, more shade trees overhang this yard, keeping the area a bit cooler.

Tomatoes were later producers here, in spite of being next to the house, which is turning out to be an asset as we cool down. What wasn’t foreseen was the amount of shade they would be in until the sun shown on them (after 12:30pm), and then for the remainder of the day. And they weren’t particularly early-ripening varieties, but now they’re doing well, with some extra plastic over them as the temperatures cool down. Maybe a different spot next year, or else an early ripener.

Enjoying the current 2-3 days of warmth before we see a longer stretch of rain settle in. That delightful flip-flop transition of early fall.

Hoping your bounty has been generous this year!


It’s a boy!…Monarch that is…



Beautiful male Monarch on my Asclepias!  The spot, circled in yellow, is mirror-imaged on the other wing, and indicates this to be a male.  Photo courtesy of neighbor, Jamie Simmons, who also watched this specimen flitting in his yard.

We’ve been blessed with the presence of an authentic Monarch butterfly in the garden this last week, following my sighting of 3 more out in some pasture lands on the outskirts of town.  The Monarch is a relatively rare butterfly to see in this area, and I can’t remember the last time I saw one: with the overall decline in their populations over the last decade, I was surprised and delighted to see these, especially in a short amount of time!  Almost didn’t trust my eyes! I grew up with them as very commonplace yard visitors, and missed their numbers up here in western Oregon.  Even though I’ve grown a type of milkweed for many years (a non-invasive cultivar), it hasn’t hosted very many caterpillars in its lifetime, nor is it the favorite of the monarch.  However, more people are planting various types of milkweed in the area, and perhaps it is paying off.

He is not always present on a daily basis, but one afternoon and evening he was a visitor for several hours, flitting about, around to neighbors, and back, and alighting on the butterfly bush, which is loves for nectar.  The frequently visiting Swallowtail was also cruising through the yard, and there were some near collisions at the Buddleia bush.  Jujubes have shown up, too, jumping and whirling themselves about in little frenzies, which didn’t phase Mr. Monarch.  Such a delight and blessing to see them all active and energetic.  I did have to remind little Juni-cat that she should not even think about trying to capture our visitor! She has caught a Swallowtail before…grrr.

Our first bounty of beautiful yellow crookneck squash was picked a couple of weeks ago, and a ripening tomato can be seen from certain viewpoints in the yard.  However, most of the tomatoes are green; our intermittent pattern of 3-days cooler than average, then 3 days normal summer heat, is not conducive to speedy tomato ripening.  There might be green tomatoes at season’s end this year, depending.

Spaghetti squash is being true to form and pumping out its fruit, (with bees’ help, of course), and at last count last weekend, I saw about twelve softball-sized squash.  Five days later, some of them are now almost full-grown for this variety, like a good-sized canteloupe.

We’ve had very, very, very, very bad deer this year, in spite of extra netting.  They have learned to walk on netting and bite through it for their highly-desired bean leaf sprouts, and then they won’t leave them alone.  There will be absolutely no bean harvest this year; I leave the stems to torment them!  Always one day (no, one night!) ahead of me, they demolished over half the lettuce crop.  It appears we might get some lettuce re-growing though as summer cools off a bit.  And they harass some of the melon and cucumber seedlings, too, when least expected, so we’ll see how those do.  Tomatoes are protected enough now that they can’t do too much damage.

deerdamage July2016-2

Early July deer damage.  Forget any bean harvest this season, and only a bit of lettuce escaped sabatoge.  The day after this photo shot, they munched the rest of the lettuce, and proceed to keep it mowed.


That’s what happens when you leave town for a few days…all of a sudden it is a massive crookneck jungle! May have to do some disciplining/removal so the hidden melon plant can see more sun!

Aug-08-16 jungle

Spaghetti squash interloping with tomatoes. At least deer don’t like the prickly leaves at this point.


Squash fruits galore, running all over the place.


Step carefully…

The July jungle is now in full swing!  Evidently our watering regime is working well despite an ongoing drought, and waves of very hot days replaced by cooler, more “normal” temperatures, with heat spikes in between.  We simply use soaker hoses for 10 to 15 minutes daily on everything but the tomatoes, which may be on an every other day schedule, temperature dependent.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The time when the plants just weave their bounty together; criss-crossing paths.

The bounty is coming in! Mostly summer squash and the oldest planting of bush beans, with a few extra pounds making their their way to a local food bank. The winter squash are prolific, too, just not ready!  And while scouting around the squash some mini-canteloupes and margarita melons showed themselves!  Always such a thrill to find the hidden gems!  Thinning the prolilfic tomato vegetation is allowing the tomatoes to see the sun and a few are just blushing.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started.  Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

Four spaghetti squash tucked away; and yes, the powdery mildew has started. Earlier than usual this year, corresponding to the earlier maturity.

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

This year has seen a return of the twin (fused) yellow squash; this is the third set in 3 weeks!

The dilemma of outwitting our browsing buck continues.  Almost a game in a way; one week we are “safe” from damage, and the next week he lets us know he is smarter, or more desperate, probably both!  While we now have extra netting stretched over plants within the already-netted perimeter, our nemesis continues to jump in and scout around, browsing anything that might poke through the netting.  Damage control is tolerable under the usual circumstances, but now he has earned the reputation of  being “bad, bad, bad, really bad” by succeeding in wiping out the beans that had just recuperated from a setback 2 weeks ago.  Apparently this was achieved by literally walking on the netting!  Maybe I should start tally marks on an extra zucchini.  Deer wins this week’s round.

Netting on netting.  Ambushed! Now the deer doesn't mind walking on netting to reach his treats!

Ambushed! Now the deer doesn’t mind walking on netting to reach his treats!


September slide through…

Our beloved Bambie has become frustrated…or desperate… in not being able to eat more tomato vines, nor get into my yard; so she’s taken to eating zucchini leaves off the stalk!

Not what you'd think to be a deer's delight...coarse zucchini leaves...

Shifting weather all over….a lot of rain during the first half of the month, so all tomatoes were pulled in, as well as squash and melons.  No rot wanted! So, it’s looking a bit bare as the season comes to a close.  Lettuce, arugula, and leeks are doing great!

Once there was a jungle...

September harvest tally:

  • Basil: 18 (pounds)
  • Bush beans: 3.5
  • Charentai melon: 13.5
  • Acorn squash: 5
  • Corn: 18 (19 ears)
  • Cucumbers: 20.5
  • Delicata squash: 20.75
  • Margarita melon: 26.75
  • Scallions: 1
  • Summer squash: 10.5
  • Spaghetti squash: 19.5
  • Tomatoes: 131 !!!!

Total:  288 pounds….!!!
Moving the season total to 473 pounds!
We give thanks to all Beings who assisted in manifesting this bounty!
That tomato poundage is off 6 plants, and no wonder they were collapsing!

Keepin' the bounty dry...

The lurkers

Lurkers of all sorts hidden in the CG….

Delicata squash

Stealth zucchini

Spaghetti squash bowling balls

Delicata and cucumber in the jungle

Margarita melons

Charentai mini-canteloupes

The season of transition is upon us…..Autumnal equinox…shorter days…the midway point of light and dark…in this region that is essentially the midway latitude of the Northern Hemisphere…halfway between the equator and the North Pole.    The bounty continues….

They really exist!

Thanks to one of our natural pest controllers, who decided to quit being so shy, we had beautiful bounty, even if the tomatoes are still slow, and the summer squash are slowing down!

An elusive friend mantis making a brief appearance

September bounty:

  • Basil: 6.5
  • Bush beans: 2.75
  • Cucumbers: 6
  • Grapes: 2
  • Charantai melons: 16
  • Margarita melons: 8.75
  • Delicata squash: 8.5
  • Spaghetti squash: 6.5
  • Spinach: 2
  • Swiss chard: 2.25
  • Summer squash: 26.75
  • Tomatoes: 41.25

Month’s total: 125 pounds (rounded)
Season total: 400 pounds

Spaghetti squash near harvest


Labor Day already?!  Wait a minute, we’ve only picked 3 red tomatoes (this last week)!  I check last year’s entry, and like I thought, I was drying them, there were so many.  C’est la vie.  Three weeks of a cycle in which each week contains 2 days of above-average temps, followed by 15-degree drops to below-average and drizzle, plus mid-40’s at night, just doesn’t cut it for ripening tomatoes.  Still, the plants look great.

Mildew on the squash; always a good seasonal transition symptom.  The acorn, spaghetti, and delicata squash are doing very well.  The zucchini, yellow, and patty pan summer squash are also yielding well, but not overabundant, since they prefer more consistent heat.  The charentais melon has proven very prolific, and we await ripening fruit, now that their skins are roughening.  The margarita melon is not as prolific, but the plant has a few healthy specimens ripening.  Cucumbers are finally cranking out.

Little charentais melons roughening up their skins

More breathing room for squash & tomatoes

A magnificent corn harvest again this year (see tally below); the stalks were pulled to get more light into the tomatoes and squash, and to make easier picking.

Ears of corn sized for big people & little people!

Chard and kale plants are marvelously large,  just starting to get bitter.  Seeds for a fall crop went in last week, as well as a mix of lettuces and salad greens.

Attempts at growing potatoes in the breathable grow-bags proved more productive than last year, but still not what I’d hoped.  The plants looked good, and putting more fertilizer in initially helped, but I’m suspecting there’s an issue with not enough moisture during hot weather, even though they were watered daily much of the summer.  I’m of the mind to only plant Cherry Red and All-Blue varieties next year, since they’re not typically available anywhere else.  The Yukon Gold, Yellow Finn, and Banana Fingerlings are usually available for less money than I put into growing them.  At least they’re proving to be deletable morsels, and it’ll be easy to make some potato salad without having to chop much.  Now, if I was to make raclette or fondue, these are the perfect size!

(left) Yukon Gold & All Blue potatoes; (right) Cherry Red & Banana Fingerling

We could not have planned it any better for plant arranging, as the dying nasturtiums in the front/lower tier were replaced by squash vines migrating down around the them and the lavender.

Thanks be to all gardeners, pollinators, and devas, visible and invisible, for a bountiful harvest!

August bounty:

  • Basil: 5.25
  • Bush beans: 18.5
  • Corn: 46.5 (40 ears)
  • Cucumbers: 9.5
  • Kale: 3
  • Lettuce blends: 4.25
  • Parsley: 0.75
  • Scallions: 4
  • Spinach: 2
  • Swiss chard: 4.25
  • Summer squash: 57
  • Tomatoes: 1.5
  • Blueberries  4
  • Potatoes: 14

Month’s total: 174.5 pounds!

A sea of melon leaves! Where's Juniper?

High summer

When temperatures hover near 100°F my appetite switches gears in a big way.  No amount of fresh beans, chard, squash, tomatoes, or cucumbers can lure me to a green salad today, and especially not to cooking.  The last bit of bolting lettuce was plucked this morning to salvage a salad, maybe tomorrow.

First tomatoes were plucked a couple of days ago, and the squash are gearing up for another wave of production; lemon cucumbers are no visibly forming. Almost 6 pounds of green cucumbers were pulled this last week, which was a surprise.  Corn tassels and silk are promising signs of ear production as the plants have grown taller.  Bush beans abound and are a real hit, while thinned basil provides a delightful zest for pasta with garlic, salt, and olive oil.  Nonetheless, tonight’s dinner is cold cereal, cantaloupe, and a blueberry smoothie.

Tasty peaches, apricot sized!

Tasty peaches, apricot sized!

The prize picking was of the three small peaches that had formed on my new 2-yr. old dwarf tree.  I wasn’t sure when they’d be ripe, and when I went to inspect them under their little “pom pom” branch clusters, they released themselves easily with just a gentle nudge.  One was the size of an apricot, and the others a tad bit larger, very sweet and tasty nevertheless.

And the deer?  They’re watching and waiting; today I found evidence of some minor nibbling on the chard, kale, and bean tips.  Time to soap the lines again.  After I have my unorthodox dinner.

Bocce ball zucchini

The magic of zucchini: one day you can play billiards with the little round ones, the next you switch to lawn bowling.

Having shifted into a real stretch of summer for the last 5 days, the garden has responded in kind.  The thunderstorms of my last post soaked the gardens perfectly; no watering was needed for five days, despite 85-95° heat.  Summer squash and salad cucumbers showed their typical exponential growth in 2 days.

Plants are greening nicely in their new shoot growth, after more feeding; Swiss chard and bean plants are recovering from their deer-damage.  The first handful of green beans were picked today; there will be many more reaching full size in a couple of days.

The pickling cukes are just setting while the lemon cukes are in massive flower-stage; had to pull out 1 spaghetti squash plant because there are so many forming on the remaining vine, and the delicata squash was getting overrun (it has the slows).  There are some tiny buttercup squash setting as well.

Two or three corn plants are showing tassels already, which isn’t my preference.  This somewhat predetermines their height, and these are nowhere near their projected height.  We shall see!

In support of another sustainable urban garden movement, I’ve joined the project in their challenge to accumulate 1 million pounds of home-grown food; participants report their tally on any basis, be it daily, weekly, monthly.  It’s not a race, and there are no deadlines; just a way to see how long it takes to cooperatively accumulate the million pounds among the participants.

Since we’d been picking kale, chard, and strawberries (house yard) for a few weeks before discovering this challenge, we’re guesstimating that yield.  So far, the cumulative harvest stands at:
•    Summer squash (combined varieties):   5.25 pounds
•    Cucumbers:   1.75 pounds
•    Kale:  5 pounds
•    Beans: 0.5 pounds
•    Swiss chard:  3 pounds
•    Strawberries: 12 pounds
•    Blueberries:  1 pound
•    Artichoke: 0.5 pound

Oh yes, the sunflowers are winning….finally.

It’s squash vs. sunflowers…

Our crazy, often cold weather hasn’t been the best for fast sunflower growth, so now we find them almost engulfed by several squash.  I’ve had a talk with them, urging them upward.  They reply, “Get us some consistent, hot days and warm nights, please.”  Granted, they look better than the yellow California Wonder peppers, who have stubbornly refused to grow.

Some of the summer squash and cukes have been hiding their offspring under their huge leaves, and although we’ve been peeking, the plants are pulling their usual “overnight babies.”  We’ll be starting to harvest yellow straightnecks and the cue-ball zucchini, and a few cukes in a few days, provided yesterday’s rains didn’t rot anything.  Hopefully not too many blossoms were damaged, and the predicted hot weather is to arrive tomorrow.  The scalloped Patty-pan in the house yard is bearing 2 or 3 small squashes, so they’ll be ready soon.  Quite a few small spaghetti squash are forming on their vines, too, which is a great sign.

Picked the first quart of blueberries (var. Bluecrop) of our joint blueberry patch last evening when the rain let up.  Most were ripe, with a couple of tart ones mixed in; mainly didn’t want deer or birds picking them! There are other varieties ripening up.  Since these are first-year transplants there are mostly one or two clusters max.  Instead of removing them early, as often suggested, we wanted to see how big and how long they take to ripen.