My favorite summer squash to grow

I like summer squash but won’t grow varieties that I can find in the stores or my farmers market. Why grow something I can already buy? So I’ve tried a number of different types of summer squash and definitely have my favorites. So here are my three favorite summer squashes.

Costata Romanesco-picture courtesy of uprisingorganics.com

ZUCCHINI TYPES:-#1-COSTATA ROMANESCO: This is my ALL TIME FAVORITE of ANY type of summer squash. Costata Romanesco is a ribbed zucchini from Rome, Italy and a famous Italian heirloom. Often considered to be the best tasting and best textured zucchini.  The flavor is sweet and nutty. The long fruit are fluted with medium, green-striped skin. The cut slices are scalloped. They are popular fried whole with the flower still on when still small. They are very flavorful and a perfect, gourmet variety. Pick this variety when it is 7-10 inches long.

Lungo Bianco

#2-LUNGO BIANCO: This variety is a light-green-cream heirloom zucchini and another popular squash from Italy. They are smooth skinned, mild and sweet. Pick this when it is 6-8 inches long

Bennings Green Tint-picture courtesy of sustainableseed.com

SCALLOP TYPE: BENNINGS GREEN TINT: My FAVORITE SCALLOP variety of summer squash is Bennings Green Tint which is a light green scallop squash. It stays tender longer and is extremely flavorable and not bitter.  Very nutty like flavor. I’ve tried golden Custard, yellow types, white types and striped types but ‘Bennings Green Tint’ tops them all for the scalloped variety. I like the colors of the other varieties but the flavor is missing. Pick this when it is 2-3 inches in diameter.

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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

‘The Tomato Lady’ returns to Santa Fe Farmers Market

‘The tomato Lady’-first day sold out of Tomatoes

Yesterday I returned to our Farmers Market here in Santa Fe, NM as the ‘Tomato Lady’ and sold out of my tomatoes by 10 am.

It’s been a long wait all summer for my tomatoes to ripen and they have started but are not full blown yet. So I had some tomatoes but not a ton. In another couple of weeks, I should be overwhelmed with tomatoes. I also had Costata Romanesco  and Lungo Bianco zucchini, Bennings Green Tint and Yellow Custard scallop summer squash,  Fairytale eggplants, Shishito peppers, Padron peppers, Parade, Armenian cucumbers and Rattlesnake pole beans. For tomatoes I had Early Wonder, Pantano Romanesco, Goliath, Sun Sugar and Black Cherry and a few Costuluto Genovese. Hope I have lots more next week!

How to control squash bugs

Squash bug adult-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

Well it’s that time of year-Squash bugs Ughh! You can control squash bugs in your organic garden. Here are some ORGANIC things you can do to deter squash bugs:

-Plant a crop late in the season if possible. Many areas of the country only have one generation of squash bugs and if you plant later you may miss them. If you live in the south where they have 2 generations, read on..

squash bug nymphs-photo courtesy University of Minnesota

Cover your plants with row cover to keep them off. This works beautifully but you may have to piece some row covers together to cover some of the larger plants. I use clothes pins to clip them together.

-Use Neem. It is an organic pesticide (and an added benefit is a fungicide). It must be sprayed very early before the bees come out or at dusk when they aren’t around as it won’t hurt them if it is not a direct hit as they only visit the flowers and it is a contact spray. I think it mostly helps deter the squash bug.

squash bug eggs

-Inspection, hand picking and kill the little buggars. (now you know how strongly I feel about them) By far the most labor intensive but very effective. I hate to handle squash bugs (or any bug-I’m squeamish) so I use gloves, a bucket of soapy water (it drowns them) and inspect each leaf underneath to look for nymphs, eggs, or adults. The adults I throw in the soapy water and if a leaf is really loaded with nymphs, I cut it off and throw it in the soapy water otherwise I just squish them. For the eggs  (they are a cluster of rust colored eggs attached to the underneath side of the leaves) I usually just tear off  or cut out that portion of the leaf (it won’t hurt it) and throw them into the soapy water. The key to keeping it under control, is to catch them before they multiply too much. I looked up the life cycle online of the squash but and it goes from egg to nymph in 7-10 days so if you get out there every 7 days you will catch them before they get out of control and multiply. Most people wait too late. Get out there and look at your plants!

-Companion planting. I think it was in ‘Organic Gardening Magazine that I read under ‘letter to the editors’, that a lady wrote in to say that you could deter squash bugs on pumpkins, winter squash, summer squash and marrows with diluted/strained onion juice. Evidently just grind one or two up, put it in gallon of water and strain the onions out so your sprayer doesn’t clog. Well she went on to write that doing that was too much work and she plants onions bulbs with her squash every year and hasn’t seen a squash bug since. Well I did the same for my summer squashes, but not for my winter squashes. There have been no squash bugs on the summer squash but I found one on the marrow which means there will be more. I told one of friends that owns a garden nursery about the onions and he said it was too late to plant onions but he was going to throw some chopped onions out in his patch. I’m doing the same today for the marrow and winter squash and will let you know what happens! It can’t hurt and maybe it’ll work!

organic fungicides to use for Powdery Mildew

We’ve been getting so much rain lately that I am worried about Powdery Mildew (PM) and other fungal and bacterial diseases caused by too much rain. It is a blessed curse. The garden takes off  and really grows from all the rain but the conditions are right for PM so I am trying to take precautions by doing several things to be as preventative as possible.

First I’m cleaning out all dead or yellow leaves that are usually underneath the canopy of the squashes and beans and tomatoes. I use clippers to cut out the dead stems  or yellow leaves (like on the tomatoes) and I sterilize them between each plant so not to spread any diseases that the plant may have that I don’t know about yet. The idea is to clean up under the canopy of  leaves and provide more air space. I have a small container that I fill with 4 cups of water and I put in about 1/4 cup bleach and use this as a disinfectant for my clippers and gloves. I just dip my clippers and hand with my glove into the container and then move onto the next plant. You can use isopropyl alcohol instead but you could go through a lot of alcohol and the bleach works just as well. The next thing I do is spray weekly with Neem and baking soda or instead use copper fungicide which is stronger but still organic. I think the Neem and baking soda are more preventative and if you get some fungal diseases then the copper can kill it. Copper is organic but one still needs to follow the directions but you can spray it right up to the day of harvest. All of these need to be sprayed on both the top and underneath the leaves and have to be resprayed if it rains. The third thing I’m doing this year is using a biofungicide that is used as a drench. This is new to me but it is just certain soil organisms that help the plant ward off many fungal and bacterial diseases. I’m using it on my giant pumpkins and will let you know how they do. Another biofungicide is Mycostop which is also suppose to do the same thing. There may be others out there, just google biofungicides.

Garden Harvest from July 24

First harvest from July 24

Here’s a picture of the first garden harvest that I actually got on July 24! It was small but tasty! ‘Romanesco Costata’ summer squash, ‘Lungo Bianco di Sicily’ summer squash, ‘Yellow Custard’ scalloped summer squash, ‘Bennings Green Tint’ scallop summer squash, ‘Fairy’ eggplants, bush beans, cucumbers, ‘Shishitos’ and ‘Padron’ peppers are really kicking, and a few tomatoes. Now on August 2, almost everything is going bonkers except the tomatoes-I’m still waiting for the tomatoes to really show up soon in a major way!

Calabacitas breakfast

Breakfast Calabacitas With Egg

Here’ a recipe to make a southwest favorite here in Santa Fe. I add an egg on top for a complete breakfast.

(6) 6-8 inch zucchini
1/2 of onion chopped
1-2 ears of corn kernels
1 tsp cumin
Northern New Mexico green chili sauce

Slice zucchini or any summer squash and chop onions. Saute in olive oil till soft and liquid has evaporated. Cut kernels off fresh corn and add to mix. Sprinkle about 1 tsp of cumin (more or less to taste) on top and stir in. Cook a few more minutes till corn is cooked but doesn’t ‘pop’. Cook an egg in another fry pan and put on top of mixture on plate. I add warm green chili on top of each plate to each person’s taste-some like it hotter and some like a little.