St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Monday, September 21, 2015

Squashed Expectations

Harvest time is here on the farm.  Today it was the squash garden.  On the edge of the cornfield just west of the yard, on a small unused corner, last spring we broke the sod, dug it up and planted many squash seeds.  
The vines are mostly brown and the garden weedy.  Next to mow it and dig it up, and put a cover crop on for winter. 

Washed to clean off the dirt.  A wet year causes edema on the skin of squash.  It looks strange but has no effect on the inside of the squash.  I think some of it is rather attractive!
From the Internet:
Edema appears more often in cool, wet growing years and is therefore wrongly confused to be a disease exacerbated by weather conditions. Even though it is not a disease, excess water is the clue to its cause. Under periods of excess moisture, plants can take up more water than what they can use and under cool conditions they can’t turn it into more plant or fruit and are not able to transpire it through the leaves. However, they still have to do something with it!

As the plant cells fill with water they can’t get rid of, they enlarge and eventually burst. After bursting, the wounded tissue heals and forms a dry, corky area. The damage is generally only superficial, but greatly affects visual quality. Not too serious on pumpkin or squash fruit, but very serious on collard greens or kale.

Many didn't come, and after several replantings, finally the hills were all up.  As they grew, we realized that about half of the garden was in the shade of tall walnut trees half of the morning.  They did poorly and set few squash that were very small.  Part of the problem is black walnut tree roots sap the ground as well as put out jugalone, a natural killer of competing plants.  So that part of the garden was almost worthless and will return to lawn in the future. 

The north 1/2 was in full sun all day and away from the trees.  It yielded wonderfully.  As we picked dozens of squash this afternoon, we found many partially chewed.  Ground hogs, deer, rabbits and squirrels all probably took their turn.  They ruined much more than they ate.  Animals are very wasteful of fruit and vegetables, ruining much more than they eat.  Our apples suffer from one or two holes from birds; eaten branches, and ripped off and broken branches from bears and deer. 
The result of explosive growth!

Anyway, even with the depredation, we have many good squash left for the sale on Saturday, the 10th Annual River Road Ramble.  
Tomorrow we pick the pumpkins, also showing signs of animal damage.