The runaway

giant marrow 08-10

A BIG runaway! DISCLAIMER: This one is way too big to eat! I entered this in 2010 in the State Fair instead!

At this time of year if you’re a vegetable gardener, you’ve experienced it—zucchini runaways. One day you go out and see this cute little zuke and think I’ll give it one more day and the next day you go out and it grew into a baseball bat. It’s like overnight it got on some steroids and went ballistic.  Now it’s too big so what do we do with them besides hide them under the bed in case an intruder comes in? Well you could use them as door stops or take them to the fair but here are 4 ideas to eat them!

Savory Zucchini Pancakes
Take 2 cups of grated zucchini, add two beaten eggs, 2 tablespoons of flour, and 2 teaspoons of some fresh herb you have and 1 cup feta or mozzarella or cheddar or whatever cheese you have (please, no Velveeeeeta). If you want more, then just up the ingredients like 3 cups zucchini, 3 eggs, 3 tablespoons flour, etc. Just don’t up the herb, keep it at 2 tsp so not to overwhelm the flavor of the zucchini (what? zucchini has flavor? Yes, at least two varieties do – Costata Romanesco and Benning’s Green Tint (not a zucchini but a delicious summer squash). All the others, in my opinion, are worthy of either the compost pile or the chicken coop or both) Then saute them in olive oil until brown on both sides. This is my favorite way to cook super-sized zucchini.

Garlicky Zucchini Medallions
Slice them into medallions and saute them in olive oil with some crushed garlic cloves until tender in a BIG fry pan. Sprinkle lightly some red pepper flakes and add fresh grated Parmesan cheese on top and cook a few minutes more till melted. This is also great with a little left over spaghetti sauce drizzled over them.  (Can you really drizzle spaghetti sauce. No—but you get the idea-don’t drown them.)

Zuchinni Soufflini (This one comes from my mom-thanks mom!)
1 1/2 lbs zucchini
1 large onion, chopped
3 TLB butter
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper
2 beaten eggs
1 1/2 cups soft bread crumbs
2 TLB butter

Cook squash whole for about 5 minutes in boiling water. Cool. Dice into cubes. Saute’ onion in 3 TLB butter and add to zucchini. Stir in cheese and seasonings and allow mixture to cool before adding beaten eggs. Spoon into buttered 1 quart casserole. Toss bread crumbs with 2 TLB melted butter and sprinkle over casserole. Bake 30-40 minutes at 350°F about 30 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Serves 4-6 people.

Of course there is always the infamous zucchini bread but how about chocolate zucchini bread? I got this recipe from a friend many moons ago and it is excellent. Your kids, friends, spouse or partner will never know they are eating something healthy!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 ¼  cup all-purpose flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ¾  cup sugar
½ cup butter
½ c vegetable oil
2 eggs, large
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
2 cup unpeeled zucchini, grated
6 oz choc chips
¾ c chopped walnuts

-Preheat oven 325 degrees. Butter and flour a 13” x 9” x 2” baking pan
-Sift flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt into large bowl.
-Beat sugar, butter and oil in large bowl until well blended. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla extract. Mix in dry ingredients, alternate w/ buttermilk in 3 additions each, fold in zucchini. Mix in choc. chips + nuts. Pour into the baking pan. Bake until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean in about 50 min. Cool completely in pan.

So the next time you get a runaway, don’t despair, now you have some ideas on how to use them besides hiding them under your bed!

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How to pollinate a giant pumpkin

Here are pictures on how I hand pollinate a giant pumpkin…

Here I’m getting ready to pollinate a giant pumpkin. I’ve gathered several male flowers that are  by my shoe. I have one in my hand ready. I try to use several male flowers to make sure I get enough pollen on the female flower. Notice the female flower just below my hand that is open and ready to be pollinated.

Here is a closeup of the male flower. The ants can be accidental pollinators too.

Here is a closeup of the female flower. When she opens up first thing in the morning, she is ready to receive pollen.

Here I’m peeling off the flower petals from one of the male flowers. I peel off the petals so only the stamen is left. That way it can get to the female stigma.

Here is the male flower with all the petals off.  Notice the pollen on the stamen and around the base.

Now I take the male stamen that is loaded with pollen and use it like a paintbrush to paint the pollen all over the female stigma. then I repeat with the extra male flowers.

Then I tie and close up the female flower so it can’t accidentally get pollinated by the beez. It will stay closed up for one day and then I will untie it as the female blossom will only acept the male pollen for about a 4 hour period. If you want to know who are the parent pumpkins, this is the way to control the assurance of the genetics. We try to get bigger and better pumpkins each year which is why we hand pollinate.

Veggies I will and won’t grow this year and why in 2011

Here is my veggie list from last year. I thought it important to go through it and tell you what I will and won’t grow again and why before I forget. Look at my SEED LIST PAGE next week (as it could always change) to see exactly what I am growing in 2011

TOMATO-HEIRLOOMS
San Marzano-red plum tomato-YES-I will try again even though ALL 4 died. I hear too many good things about this tomato

Striped German-bicolor tomato-YES-I WILL grow it again for my third straight year-One of my favorites even though it takes a little longer to develop

Black CherryYES– I will grow this for my third straight year-another favorite

Paul Robeson-black tomato-YES-A Farmers Market favorite although I prefer others.

Cherokee Purple-purple tomato-NO-I missed this one last year but it is wonderful. As good as Brandywine.

Cherokee ChocolateYES-Just as good as Cherokee purple but a little brownish color. I will choose between one of the Cherokees due to space.

Prudens Purple-purple tomato-NO-not as good as the Cherokees nor as prolific but planted it because it was suppose to ripen sooner-not true for me last year.

Black Krim-black tomato-NO I didn’t do this one last year but had it in the lineup because it is only 69 days to ripen. Never had good luck in previous years.

Pantano Romanesco-red classic tomato-YES-wonderful tomato from Italy

Great WhiteNO– novelty-lost both plants

Costoluto Genovese-red tomato-YES fantastic looking-fluted and great taste

Goldsman Italian American-large red plum-YES even though I lost 3 out of 4, and it took forever to ripen, it makes the BEST tasting tomato sauce I’ve ever made

Aunt Ruby’s German GreenNO-Novelty-lost 2 plants

Gold Medal-bicolor tomato-MAYBE-took longer to ripen than Striped German but great taste

TOMATOES-HYBRID-I grow a few hybrids
Lemon BoyMAYBE-didn’t get any in last year but it is a sweet terrific tomato

Park’s Beefy Boy-red tomato-70 days-YES-only 70 days and great taste

Sun Sugar-yellow cherry-NO-kinda like a lot of yellow cherry tomatoes but super sweet.Want to try something different.

Original Goliath-red tomato-NO– nice size, early ripener but can’t remember the flavor

TOMATO-COMPETITION (biggest)
Big Zac-red/80 days-YES-takes the longest to ripen but taste is great and chance to grow a huge one.

2010 VEGGIE LIST
BEANS-Rattlesnake-YES-great tasting pole bean over my arbor and Tavera-NO average tasting bush bean

PEPPER-Shishito-YES-I love these-not hot but full of flavor

SUMMER SQUASH-ZUCCHINI-Costata Romanesco –YES wonderful taste and Lungo Bianco-NO-it was good and more prolific than Romanesco but not as flavorful. Sticking to one kind this year.

SUMMER SQUASH-SCALLOPED-Yellow Custard and Bennings Green Tint-NO on both. I’m only growing Costata Romanesco

WINTER SQUASH-Marina di ChioggiaNO-powdery mildew problem and not many squashes and Galeux d’EyesinesYES-prolific-great taste-3rd yr.

EGGPLANT-Little Fairy-YES-prolific tender skin and great taste, third year in a row. Thai Yellow EggNO-took all season to develop and then froze at first frost. What a disappointment.

CUCUMBERS-Parisian, Boothsby Blonde, Poona Kera, and ParadeYES TO ALL-Third straight season

CORN-not sure if I’m growing. Might just pick it up at Farmers Market

LETTUCES-from COOK’S GARDEN-Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce, and Little Gem-YES

SPINACH-from COOK’S GARDEN-Indian Summer and Double Choice-NO-will look for bigger leaf variety.Too puny.

CARROTS-from COOK’S GARDEN-Kaleidoscope (mix of red, purple, orange and yellow)-NO want only orange and purple ones this year.

BROCCOLI-Brocolli Romanesco-NOtakes too long to develop.

ARUGULA-ApolloYES

BOK CHOY-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-YES

CHARD-5 Color SilverbeetYES TO ANY CHARD

PEAS-DWARF SUGAR, OREGON SPRING IIYES

2010 GIANT PUMPKINS
895 Grande (1016 Daletas x 1385 Jutras)-YES-grew the 2010 NM State Record Pumpkin-421 lbs + 3 other new ones

GIANT MARROW (like a giant Zucchini)
206.5 Wursten 09YESdidn’t grow last year but will this year

75.4 Wursten 09YESgrew the 2010 NM State Record-43 lbs

GIANT TOMATOES
7.18 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Timm x open) YESgrew a 2 lb 11 oz tomato in 2010

5.416 N. Harp 09 (5.58 Harp x openYES

Big Zac (from Totally Tomato)-YES

GIANT SUNFLOWERS
TitansYES

KONG BREAKS NEW MEXICO STATE RECORD!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, Oct 1, 2010/GPC Old Colorado City Weigh-Off, Colorado Springs, Colorado-

Kong broke the New Mexico State Giant Pumpkin Record today coming in at 421 lbs beating the old record of 404 lbs! The record comes home to Santa Fe which is quite a feat considering our high altitude and short growing season. Kong also got a ribbon for third place in the weigh-off for 3rd biggest pumpkin out of about 25 contestants and $100 (yea-paid for my gas to get up there!).  The first place was a 1109 lb monster pumpkin grown by a Colorado grower named Marc Sawtelle and second place was over 800 lbs grown by another Colorado grower named Doug Minix. These guys are my heros-they are really nice and share information about growing these monsters. My pumpkin was little by comparison but still bigger than all the rest of them. My giant marrow, ‘Big Zuc’, also got a ribbon for Best Squash and also set a new New Mexico record. What a way to finish the gardening year. Couldn’t be better!!

So the weigh-off day went as follows:

Got up at 4:30 am and left by 6am to get up to Colorado Springs by 10:30am. We unloaded Kong at 10:30 and waited till weigh-off time at noon. We met the mayor of Colorado Springs who told us the sorid story of the city when it was a mining town and one side of the main street (that we were on) was for the brothels and other side was the respectable side.  He told us the story of how the men would drop off their wives at the opera on the respectable side, go into some tunnels to cross the street over to the brothels and come back again to pick up their wives after the opera! Hmm! He looked like the guy in Monopoly (I think the banker?) I also met Buffalo Bill Cody (I think reincarnated)! Lots of people and families came.

At noon when they went to turn the digital scale on they couldn’t get it to work! Arg! I was freaking out inside as I really wanted Kong weighed and didn’t want to go all the way home without doing that. Talk about how anticlimactic that would of been! Anyways they worked on it for about 40 minutes while I’m dying inside and finally they got it fixed. Phew! Talk about a freak out! Where were the ‘tums’?

Then they started weighing them from smallest to largest. The next thing that made me worried was the entry right before me was a beautiful orange color and looked bigger to me, but only weighed in at 375 lbs. Sheez! Did I measure wrong? Marc and Doug(the two biggest growers there) told me later that color (as in bright orange) always weighs lighter than the salmon color pumpkins. Then the big moment..and Kong weighed in at 421 lbs. Elodie and I were screaming and yelling as they announced I broke the NM State Record! Such a thrill! Then they put my giant marrow, ‘Big Zuc’ (think zuccini) on the scale and it weighed 43 lbs. Biggest fricking zucchini I ever grew! Also a NM State Record! Icing on the cake! So I got ribbons for third place for Kong and Best Squash for ‘Big Zuc’ and of course the sweetest was breaking the NM State pumpkin record. What a way to end the giant pumpkin season! Here is a slide show of the weigh-off.

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