The Home Stretch is in sight.Hello Everyone, The weather is changing. You may not have noticed

Hello Everyone,

   The weather is changing.  You may not have noticed it but the mornings are cooler and there is heavy dew in the garden and on the windshield early in the morning.  I need to think back to last year and remember how I cleaned off the back window on the truck when it is beyond my reach.  I'm thinking it is time to invent a new gadget, one specially designed for short women who drive 1/2 ton pick up trucks.  UMASS vegetable notes reminds us that the dew in the garden is going to bring on the foliar diseases that we haven't seen because of the drought.

  Their news letter is surprisingly informative for beginners.  I love the pictures of the diseases in the crops.  I finally know what is bothering my peppers.  It's the same thing that used to bother my tomatoes, blossom end rot caused by a calcium deficiency.  Our solution for the tomatoes was to add magnesium to the fertilizer tank and that would help with the uptake of water and calcium.  In plain language, a fancy version of Epsom salts.  I don't know if that is possible to do that type of amendment with our crops in the field and our irrigation system but I always appreciate knowing what a problem is.  It may take several tries to get the solution to work but you have to identify the problem first.  Thank you UMASS.

    Scroll down for the section that starts with," Harvest Timing for Eating Quality" in winter squash and pumpkins.  We bring in several bins of butternut squash each year so this section was of particular interest to us.  Sometime you can't compare crops for storage or eating quality.  Potatoes and squash are a good example.  Both of these crops are good for long term storage and are very sweet if you understand storage and know when to eat them.  Potatoes are sweet when they are first harvested, 'new potatoes'.  Their sugars covert to starch the longer they are out of the ground and in storage.  Remember, they have no internal seeds.  Winter squash has seeds so the whole maturation process is different even though both items may spend a lot of time hiding in the dark under your sink.  I need to copy and paste this. 

Squash is “mature” when seeds are completely filled. If squash is harvested before it is mature, the fruit will use starch reserves from the flesh to fill the seeds, resulting in poor flesh quality. Immature squash will also not have enough starch to convert into sugar later on. For some squash types (e.g. acorn and delicata), the mature fruit can be eaten immediately after harvest. Other squash types (e.g. butternut, hubbard, kabocha), need more time to convert starches to sugars and must be stored for specific amounts of time before they are eaten.  Butternut squash, "should be stored 1-2 months before eating to allow for starches to be converted into sugars and will store for 4-6 months"  That came as a surprise to me and it probably did for you also.   This means they convert starch to sugar where potatoes convert sugar to starch.

  So,  don't eat butternut squash if the skin is not a uniform tan color.  Every year we store bins of squash in the empty soil shed.  They do seems to be sweeter the longer they stay there.   By Christmas we have to find another home for them so we don't worry about them freezing.

    The weed seedlings are back.  I did not miss them at all but they were easy to predict with that rainy weekend.  I'm spending a lot of time with the double loop tool trying to keep the new lettuce plants free of the tiny invaders.  At least with the loop I don't have to bend down to get close to the ground to remove the weeds.  I am amazed at how well the tiller on the tractor turns the old plants into beautiful soil.  The loop works best in well tilled soil.  I need to stock up on six foot bamboo polls from Ocean State Job Lot and 1" discarded metal strapping from the local lumber yard.  Four plumbers clamps, some duct tape and I'm all set.  It's not fancy or sturdy but it does the job until the metal strapping rusts then I undo the parts, replace the strapping and head out to the garden.

  Kitten report.  Our last kitten found a good home and her owners report that all if going well.  They are going through an adjustment with a resident pet but I predict that a good relationship will soon bless their home.  Our Mama kitty forgot her brother with whom she would spend every night shut up in the guest bathroom.  Don't ask, this insistence on the nighty night bathroom  routine was a new one for us.  It did keep the young cats safe from coyotes so we went along with it.  We coaxed them into their old haunt the other night and within minutes there was this dreadful howling, cat fight.   The two month kitten nurturing separation was enough to break the brother sister bond.  Now if  brother Twix would remember to live at our house instead visiting the neighbor's house we could keep a better eye on him.  I suspect our neighbor is feeding him well as he does not look hungry but rather smug.  We've been of the receiving end of this kind of arrangement.  We would feed other cats but send them home for their vet appointments.   We call these, half cats.

    We have a call into the Big Apple in Wrentham and until we hear from John we do not know if we will have apples.  I have checked out the peaches that other farmers are getting from farms in Bolton and they are rock hard.  That's great for keeping and shipping but they're never going to be juicy.  You might as well get peaches from the supermarket.  I'll keep looking but after all these years of juicy peaches I'm spoiled and I don't want ordinary fruit.

    That's all for now.  I've noticed the traffic going over the bridges is a lot lighter than in past years so get out and explore this beautiful area.  Nature isn't in lock down.  You just have to find a good place to park.

See you soon,

Jay and Phyllis Sprout

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