The Perfect Squash

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I like to grow squash, lots of squash. Over the past couple of years I have grown many different kinds in search of the perfect squash. Well, I think I have found it!

This is the Hopi Black squash. It's very large! I know it's not black now, but it is black when it's young, as it is in this picture.

It is as large as a big hubbard, but the skin is easier to peel and can be cut with a knife, as opposed to an axe. I have to use an axe or a hammer to cut into a hubbard squash.

The Hopi Black squash is very sweet, dense and delicious with a small seed cavity.

The meat is a much darker orange than any squash I have seen. There's a big difference in the colour. Does this mean it has more beta carrotene? I wish I could find more information on that!

This is a very old, rare and hard to find heirloom squash. It was grown by the Hopi Indians generations ago. It produced as much cooked and finished squash for the freezer as I got from 4-5 small ambercups.

This will be the only squash I grow for our family in the future. It's very large, meaty, soft skinned, sweet, delicious and easy to grow. It does have a long growing season so I will start them early indoors, but that's fun anyway.

Rose Petal Wine

The wild roses are blooming! I have been collecting rose petals for the past few days. I put them in a freezer bag and just keep adding to it until the roses have finished blooming. Its a short period so I have to focus on collecting as many as I can during that time. 

I make rose petal wine with them, but rose petal jam and syrup are good too! This is what I collected this morning just from the back of my wild yard. 

I only use the petals for wine. I also collect the hips in the fall for jam but that comes later. This year I might add them to a "wild" wine. 

I would like to find a great collection of roses for picking, like the ones on the right. This was my rose collection when I lived in Ontario. 

I don't pick petals from roses on private property or ones used for landscaping in parking lots, without permission. I am also careful not to use petals from roses that have been sprayed so this limits the roses that I have access to.

It doesn't take a very large collection of rose bushes to get a gallon of petals if you pick daily. I pick every day and add them to a bucket in the freezer, crushing down the frozen petals until I have a gallon of packed, crushed petals. Then I make a gallon of wine with them. I have had enough petals in the past to make a five gallon bucket of wine. 

Rose petal wine if one of my favourites!

Growing & Supporting Tomatoes

The picture above is a photo of my garden in 2009. These are our 'Portugal' tomatoes growing. That was a bumper year for tomatoes.

I inherited a pile of 6' metal fence posts that have been handy in the garden. I usually stretch wire between them on which to grow things, like tomatoes, cukes, peas.
This year I am considering another option. I also have some fencing that is really a large roll of reinforcing wire. I want to make a few of these for the tomatoes, one set for each of the tomato varieties that I want to plant this year:

The wire will be in two pieces, two "L"s, which I will remove from the post in the fall and store separately.

These are indeterminate tomatoes, meaning they grow continually larger until the frost takes them. Determinate tomatoes have a preprogrammed, default setting causing them to stop growing when they reach maturity which makes them better for short seasons. I grow these indeterminate ones anyway. I'm always pushing the growing season. These are HUGE plants and have to be controlled by pruning.

I prune most of the suckers off all summer and cut the tops off of my indeterminate tomato plants around mid August. They do keep trying to grow after the top has been cut off, putting out even more suckers and more tops. I just keep trimming it back, forcing it to put as much growth as possible into the tomatoes. This makes for very large tomatoes.

We still get green tomatoes at the end of the season. To help the plant ripen what is there, I cut the roots about halfway around the plant when it gets about two weeks before our first frost date. This does help, although we still get green tomatoes.

Some tomatoes will keep all winter in our cold cellar wrapped separately in newspaper. Each tomato individually wrapped and not touching others, set on wood to keep dry. Sometimes they will stay green enough and good until mid winter, when they can be taken out and put into the kitchen to finish ripening. Not all tomatoes will do this, but a few will. If you find a good keeper tomato, you can have garden tomatoes at Christmas!

I have some seeds I got in a trade for some good "keeper" tomatoes that I am going to plant this year on a trial basis.

Some green tomatoes are welcome! We like
Fried Green Tomatoes!
I have considered growing them upside down from a hole in the bottom of a bucket, as well, but have just not bothered. I have a lot of space for a garden and I don't have a secure place to hang them. Acquiring the buckets would be no problem but I would have to build a strong system from which to hang them that will support their weight.

Do you have another tomato support system that works well 
for you?