Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Week of June 13 2011 :

After the main season transplants were set in the field, we focused on direct seeding the cucumbers, summer and winter squash, and sweet corn.

The cucumbers and summer squash were planted nearly two weeks later than scheduled. Although the warmer days of June and July will help compensate for some of the cooler days of May, the delayed planting means the initial harvest will still be delayed at least one week.

The winter squash was planted nearly on schedule. Since these are late season, storage type vegetables there is less of an emphasis on early harvest. The concern is these squash typically have such long maturities (110 days is common) and these maturities have to be reached before the first hard frost. If the first hard frost occurs prior to full maturity then the long term storage qualities are compromised.

Over the past few years I have developed a huge interest in winter squash. It is such the uncool, nerdy vegetable on the farm. But during those cold winter months, long after all the flashy summer vegetables have disappeared, there is always a hip-to-be-square squash ready to provide you with a warm and hearty meal.

This year we boosted our winter squash production for the Geauga Fresh Farmer's Market. And recently we received a call from the market manager asking if we would provide blue hubbards for a sustainability initiative dinner that will be hosted at Lakeland College this fall. We are so excited someone shares our interest in winter squash!

We are growing three varieties of hubbards. Of course, we grow the classic New England strain which weighs in at 20+ lbs. Too often we sell these as alternatives to Halloween pumpkins rather than as food.

We also grow more marketable baby strains which weigh in around 4 - 6 lbs. We have always had positive reviews of the Blue Ballet variety. It is unusually sweet for a squash. Now we are trialing the Blue Magic variety too.

And we grow Honey Bear acorn, Metro butternut and Vegetable spaghetti squash to round out the classical offerings.

Trust me, I am not eager for the arrival of fall. But I was thinking of recipes as I planted these seeds!

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