Growing a year’s supply of pumpkins/squash/zucchinis and a tasty alternative

Growing a year’s supply of pumpkins/squash/zucchinis and a tasty alternative

Pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes]  can be sequenced to provide crops over a longer time span. Here’s how we approach it:

First we plant 1-2 zucchinis in pots in early spring, inside a plastic-bag ‘mini hothouse’then transplant them into a rich, protected garden bed when the soil has warmed up. These are amazingly hardy and prolific [and they are bushes rather than rampant vines].

We like ‘Zorro’ variety for it’s hardiness, good taste and productivity.

2014-11-22 15.03.59
Zucchini plant growing strongly

We usually also plant non-hybrid varieties a little later. This year ‘Cocozelle’ was the one we put in – and they grew wonderfully. These give a solid-fleshed fruit with a great buttery taste. And produced heaps of fruit. Really lovely.

Then, we plant a number of ‘tromboncino squash’ seeds into rich, warm soil in the garden in late Spring. These rampant vines will start fruiting later than the Zorro zucchinis – and keep going longer too.

They produce ‘crook necked’ type squash which are wonderfully tasty when small [less than my hand long].

A.N.D the ones we miss grow and grow and grow some more so quickly. There’s an in-between stage which is meh – so they go into soup. We leave most of them on the vine to mature. When the vine dies back the squash skin gets harder and harder – these fruit store well. And the flesh gets sweeter and richer – we think they are best baked or made into soup.

There are a number of varieties and we have tried 3 so far:

  1. Our favorite ‘tromboncino squash’ is from Running Brook Seeds [only available in NZ]. It is long, tasty, has a dark green skin and stores well too.
  2. Second is from ‘Diggers Seeds’ in Australia – nice taste, with light-green skin.
  3. Another is called ‘rampicante squash’ [here in NZ] with dark-green skin.

 

Third, main-crop pumpkins/squash go into warm, rich Spring soil. Their fruit will form hard skins and keep well. There are so many varieties to try!

A standard pumpkin here is a ‘grey’ and can form a nice tasty fruit which keeps well. This one is reliable for us.

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pumpkin/squash harvest

Then there are all the seedlings which come up from the home-made compost. Sometimes they grow wonderful fruit without any effort on our part at all. The above harvest includes these bountiful plants results – grey pumpkins, buttercup, tromboncinos [2 types].

Some varieties we used to grow well in Australia do poorly here in Auckland, or are not available at all. Would love to grow sweet butternuts but here in south Auckland it hasn’t been hot enough for them to flourish yet. Maybe one year! In Australia we grew Jap pumpkins which were delicious – but like it hot too – and I haven’t seen seeds here yet.

We get better results when we choose varieties adapted to local conditions where-ever we are than expect the same results everywhere.

We find Kings Seeds and Running Brook Seeds [2018-19 catalog] [see more through Kirian Farms] have interesting varieties.

Here’s Musquee de Provence – a buttery pumpkin which becomes flavorful in hot, dry conditions. In Auckland it can be bland when summer is wet. This one is stored on wire rack in cool room on east side of house.

Musquee de Provence Pumpkin 20180423

Store round pumpkins on their side so moisture does not accumulate in depressions which then start to rot. Where the stalk joins the fruit, and the base are prime places to collect moisture]. Pumpkins last far longer in storage if we can keep them free of moisture and rot.

Here’s Marina di Chiogga growing well. It stores really well for a long time and tastes good too.

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The piece of wood was placed underneath the pumpkin fruit to keep it up off the wet ground so it doesn’t rot before it is ripe enough to pick. It will be ready to pick when the fruit stalk turns hard and brown, and tendrils near the fruit also turn brown and withered.

 

And after the pumpkins have been harvested, and the zucchinis have finished fourth, we use chokos – not a zucc but it is a delicious replacements for zuccs. The chokos are just starting and, when they are very small, thumb-sized, they are really tasty and almost sweet.

Choko is also called chayote (Sechium edule) and is an edible plant belonging to the gourd family of Cucurbitaceae rather than the pumpkin family. For more info see wikipedia.org/wiki/Chayote

Saving seeds for next years pumpkin crops:

If you wish to save seeds from pumpkins, squash or zucchinis, many cross-pollinate so check out options before beginning. Check how to save their seeds to get true-breeding results.

Plant just one variety from each type/species and there are no issues with cross-pollination problems – as long as neighbors do not also have pumpkins growing! Bees can bring pollen a long way so it is safer to hand-pollinate your flowers for next year’s crop. For more info on hand-pollinating your pumpkins go here.

There are 3 main types/groups [species]:

Cucurbita maxima are the larger pumpkins, often with tough skin and long-keepers. Buttercup, Queensland Blue, Jarrahdale, Turks Turban, Banana Squash, Hubbard Squash, and many more.

Cucurbita moschata are usually smaller, sweet, including butternuts, crookneck squash, Jap etc [we found they like hotter conditions than we have here to become sweet and flavorful].

Cucurbita pepo include zucchinis, crooknecks, scallops, acorn squash, some winter squash and some ornamental gourds [so a lot of cross-pollination is possible!]

 

We plant a variety of types and times so hopefully some will do well to give a harvest no matter what the weather does – hot/dry/cold/wet.

 

May your food garden flourish!
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at  http://gardenate.com

 

PPS

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week! Woo hoo!

Sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week! Woo hoo!

It’s time to sow seeds for fruits and flowers this week – Tuesday 18th September 2018 until morning of Thursday 20th Sept + again on Sunday 23rd + Monday 24th September 2018 [here in New Zealand]

Before the full moon on Tuesday 25th September 2018.

Spring seems to have sprung!

In Auckland the weather has been milder than usual so we will sow lots of seeds this spring.

Seeds need warm soil to sprout and grow so most tomatoes etc will go into pots on our back patio where they will be warm, out of the cold wind, and cared for – because I see them often there.

This is a wonderful time to sow and I’ll really enjoy sowing – there is such potential for wonderful future harvests. So many varieties can be sown in Spring – although some prefer late spring with warm soil so check before sowing.

  • tomatoes [somewhere warm in seed trays. Our back patio, probably on the table is a good spot – leaving a little space for us to put out a meal to eat there too!]  I’ll sow a number of varieties so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet.
  • pumpkins/squashes/zucchini [courgettes]/cucumbers and other cucurbits can start in a warm spot as long as you can keep them warm [Also wonderful ones like bitter melons, spaghetti squash, gourds – but these go into the ground later as they need it warmer]
  • peas and beans [I sow direct and put out snail bait or surround them with plastic cut-off bottles to protect from snails and slugs which love baby seedling legumes]
  • Maybe chilies, peppers [capsicum] and eggplants [aubergine] in special little pots and tendered lovingly in the hope they will grow and fruit. Where we live often has cold southerly winds and this group like it hot! I make each a little ‘hot-house’ with a plastic bag over the pot and around the plants when I transplant them to the garden. Sometimes we get fruit.
  • Flowers of all sorts [well, the ones which like starting in Spring].

 

Planting heat-lovers [tomatoes, chilies, melons, corn, etc] in open ground for  is often given as late October/early November here in NZ.  I can transplant tomatoes, chilies, zucchinis then. They will be bigger and more resistant to weather and pests too.

Some plants do not transplant well so it is much better to wait for warm ground and sow directly in the soil so there is no root disturbance.  I’ll wait until November to plant corn and melons   it’s way too cold for them to thrive yet – even if the air is warm, the ground is not warm enough for them yet.

I so often have got impatient to grow these and planted them early as the sun was out, the air was warm, yet the ground was still cold. Seeds often did not sprout. Seedlings sat and shivered and were a magnet for snails, slugs and diseases. For strong healthy plants, the ground needs to be warm so I try for more patience.

This week the moon is growing towards full and the days listed above are when many aspects line up to give optimum good germination for strong seedlings – whether in the ground or in pots or a tray on a heat pad. Worth a try I think.

May your sowing and planting be successful with wonderful outcomes.
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at  http://gardenate.com

 

PPS

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

It’s time to sow seeds of leafy greens this week

It’s time to sow seeds of leafy greens this week

Sow seeds for luscious, tender leafy greens this next week – and best days are Tuesday 11th September 2018 through to the morning of Saturday 15th [here in New Zealand]

 

 

In Auckland the weather has been alternated between winter chills with winds off the Antarctic through to warm and wet weather out of the tropics.  Welcome to Spring!

Let’s hope for good germination and root growth of new seedlings.

It is really important to have fresh, viable, strong seeds; preferably adapted to our local conditions if we want good harvests. 

If the seed quality is poor then it grows poor seedlings, prone to disease and pests. Which gives us, as gardeners, a struggle to get the harvest we are looking for. Start with quality seed and the seedlings have a chance to grow strongly.

It’s time to re-plant crops which have fed us throughout winter as these will start to make seed-heads rather than leaves now the weather is getting warmer.

I will sow seeds throughout the week of

  • Lettuce – I left many varieties to seed so hopefully some will do well no matter what the weather does this year – hot/dry/cold/wet. We’ve been eating the outer leaves from many varieties of the loose-leaf lettuces for months. Now these plants will be shooting up a stalk to make seeds.
  • Silver-beet [including rainbow chard/ bright light beets – the ones with vibrant colored stems – so stunning to see in a garden] we left to seed in the garden and they are sprouting up now. Some people like perpetual beet [to us here, it is tougher and less tasty]. I think it’s too late to plant spinach before the hotter weather would send it quickly to seed instead of producing leaves.
  • Rocket [Arugula] is tasty rather than bitter at this time. We plant 2 types – the large leaf annual and the stronger, smaller-leaf perennial rocket
  • Coriander pretty nice early in the season before the heat of summer sends it bolting to seed with little leaf production.
  • Asian greens [assorted] – here they grow well in the cooler months – they grow so fast! We have Mizuna self-seeding. We grow 2 types – an ordinary green one as well as the deep red one – stunning in the garden [for a short time]
  • Endive  We grow 2 types – a broader leaf variety and a lovely fine, frilly variety. They are lovely and tender in cooler months so we enjoy them now. Both grow more slowly than lettuce.

This is a great time to have leafy greens grow well – they love cooler, wetter times.

 

Later, when the weather warms up they bolt to seed fast and produce fewer leaves which easily go bitter.

Remember to protect seedlings from slugs and snails which appear in spring. Here’s a post of our exploration with different methods.

Enjoy delightful salads with a range of leaf types in these spring months.

 

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at http://gardenate.com

PPS:

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

 —

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 10th September

Take time out from sowing seeds until after the 10th September

Take time out from sowing seeds from Monday 3rd September until after the dark of the moon on Monday 10th September 2018. 

As the moon nears its smallest visible ‘dark of the moon’ phase, this time is associated with spindly, weak growth – wait a week or so [and when the ground is warm!].

Maybe give some protection to anything still growing which likes some shelter from wind and rain. Plastic tunnels are very handy at this time.

Also,

  • Prepare garden beds for Spring planting
  • Collect items such as plastic covers, bird-net, pegs, snail deterrent/bait/traps so your efforts planting will be able to survive the animals/birds/weather
  • Plan your next seed sowing, your garden layout, or crop rotation to minimize pest and diseases.

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at http://gardenate.com

PPS:

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

 —

Spring, what a mix of summer and winter!

Spring, what a mix of summer and winter!

Blossoms bursting out.

 

So lovely – and starts me wanting to plant all sorts of veggies for us to eat. Maybe you do too?

Yet the ground is so cold, cold, cold and wet. Seedlings struggle, then they get eaten by snails, slugs, caterpillars and everything else. That’s depressing and we feel we’re not good gardeners.

How DO we get great veggie harvests?

“Where” is important. Veggie seedlings need:

  • warm soil. Feel it – if it’s cold to your skin, it’s cold for seedlings.
  • lots of sunlight. Look and see if the bed is in sun or shade each day.
  • well-fed – lots of organic matter
  • wind protection.
  • protection from beasties – blackbirds, dogs and cats scratch out seedlings; slugs, snails, caterpillars etc, eat them.

 

“When” to plant?

Later is often much better.

Early spring plantings often give poorer harvests than later ones.

Warm the soil with clear plastic tunnels and bags over early plantings [which also give protection from wind, birds and animals]. And remember to remove them when the sun shines brightly or they cook.

 

“What” to plant?

Early spring is a good time to plant leafy greens (lettuce, endive, rocket, silver-beet, parsley, etc), and peas in the open. Snow peas, snap peas, tall peas, dwarf peas, sweet peas. [protect from slugs as they love peas]. Carrots, beetroot, radish seeds can go in now. Sow some seeds monthly to give a longer season.

 

Beans like ground really warm so we plant an early variety under a plastic tunnel soon and wait to plant other varieties in late spring.

Beans growing in winter under a plastic tunnel 20170529
Beans growing in winter under a plastic tunnel 20170529

Sow seeds of summer crops in trays or pots and keep them somewhere protected until the ground is warm before transplanting them. Pumpkins, squash, zucchinis, cucumbers, tomatoes, capsicum, chilies, melons, herbs etc like it hot. Our patio gets covered with pots in early spring.

20171010_172230

 

Corn, beans and sunflowers are easiest to grow after November when the ground is warm.

 

Give yourself permission to play with your garden,

investigate its ‘micro-climates’,

enjoy signs of life and

forget ‘perfect’ images – each garden is different and wonderful in its own way.

And each year is different, so different varieties thrive.

Plant an assortment and enjoy those that do give great harvests this year,

and know that next year maybe others will instead.

 

Best wishes with your spring veggie garden and may you have great harvests!
Heather 

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at  http://gardenate.com

 

PPS

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

 

Below ground crops seed-sowing week

Below ground crops seed-sowing week

Good root crops of carrots, beetroot, parsnip, radish, etc.

The moon is appearing smaller in the sky as it moves past full on Sunday 26th August 2018.

Best sowing days will be Monday 27th, Tuesday 28th and again Friday 31st August until Sunday 2nd September 2018 [in Auckland, NZ] .

Spring has nearly sprung and this is a great time to think about sowing seeds for the below-ground crops you enjoy. If not this month, then maybe next month so its time to prepare.

Here we will think about sowing carrots, daikon and beetroot [because these are the root crops our family eat mostly].

I use ‘Egmont Gold‘ carrots as they appear to be less troubled by carrot fly.

20170528_154908

We also love ‘Chiogga‘ beetroot. These are 2-tone globes with concentric circles of red and white – very pretty. They also taste sweeter than other beets – maybe they are a cross between original beetroot and sugar-beet?

20160924_121549

 

Daikon radish – a staple in curries and stir-fries for us.

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Our garlic crop went in last autumn and is growing away.

 

Garlic cloves for planting with small ones for eating 20160314
The larger garlic cloves are for planting and small ones are for eating

 

Will harvest it around the end of the year. It often is said to “plant garlic on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day”. We find it better here to give it longer so plant in autumn and it has good growth before slowing in the colder weather – when weeds can take over if the garlic is smaller.

Only issue we find planting earlier, is with garlic rust which saps the energy from the plant. Some years it takes over more than others and reduces size of bulbs. We give garlic air space around the plants and try for a breezy area. This seems to help. Also feed the ground well before planting, weed out competition and generally give them TLC are our strategies.

For more about garlic, here’s a post I wrote.

 

May you and your garden flourish
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at http://gardenate.com

PPS:

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!

 —

Leafy greens time now

Leafy greens time now

In our garden in Auckland NZ, the open ground is too cold for much success sowing seeds and planting there. It’s a good time to put a plastic tunnel over a piece of ground to warm it up for sowing leafy seeds soon.

Sow seeds for leafy greens now if you have

  • a hot-house,
  • tunnel-house,
  • conservatory or
  • warm, bright window

7-100_7144

Best times for planting seeds of greens?

After the new moon on Saturday 11th August 2018 [which always gives the possibility of a new beginning] is the best week to plant for lush leafy greens.

The best days are Tuesday 14th through to Friday 17th July 2018 [here in New Zealand].

 

In Auckland the weather is cold and the ground is cold and wet.

If you already have leafy greens growing, do keep in mind that snails and slugs love tender greens! Check your growing crops and protect them from these beasties which can devastate tender plants.

We surround seedlings with a protective barrier where possible. These ones have been reused over and over so I am happy with them. We also use an assortment of cut-down plastic containers to surround seedlings.

20171021_120356

 

They also do better when protected from too much rain – a plastic house or cover really helps.

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20171010_172138

 

20171010_172131

[And – why do self-seeded ones prefer to grow in the path rather than the garden bed! ]

20180423_171705

 

May you and your garden flourish!
Heather

PS

For more ideas about what to sow and when in NZ, have a look at  http://gardenate.com

 

PPS

For more about planting by the  moon phases,

If you like experiments about when to plant for best results, a great one is to plant the same seeds in rows right beside each other [so all other conditions are identical], and label the rows with the date of planting. Then sow seeds from 1 packet at weekly intervals, each week in a new row.

This way you can see how the recommendations for best/worst seed sowing outcomes from moon-planting guides work for you. Maybe they do, and maybe they don’t.

I enjoy experimenting with such ideas – and if only I can rescue the rows from the snails and black-birds, I might even get some results to share!

Here’s a post I wrote about planting by the moon phases if you like more information and reflections on it.

Moon planting guides remind me to plant SOMETHING, plan a little, and help me have a continuous supply!