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Green Hubbard Squash — The Best Winter Squash for Families?

I am a fan of acorn squash. Its texture is not nearly as stringy as spaghetti squash and its taste is mild and pleasant. But my favorite squash may be replaced with an even faster growing cousin.

We have not tasted it yet, but many have said it tastes better than acorn squash and is sweeter. Similar to sweet potato.

I bought an acorn squash start this year as my acorn squash I had planted from seed was still quite small. Two weeks or so after planting my start, I received my green Hubbard seeds after discovering the variety as a smaller variety that its sister, blue Hubbard squash (though both can grow to be massive).

After a few weeks more weeks, my acorn squash blossomed but my green Hubbard vine was almost the same size despite its much later planting.

Now in late summer, my green Hubbard has grown far longer than the acorn squash and has put on several more squash (which themselves are larger also). If these squash taste at least as good as acorn squash, I will definitely be growing several more of these next year. I have at least three green Hubbard squash fruits that are about mature size versus my acorn squash having 1-2 fruits.

If you want a squash bring personal size (or for leftovers) and want lots of produce and size from your squash plant, I highly recommend Green Hubbard squash.

Note: if you have a large family, look into blue Hubbard squash. These are very similar but seem to grow even larger.

August Gardening 2020

Blue lake beans

We are harvesting a handful or two of blue lake and dragon tongue beans every few days.

Dragon tongue beans
Red and blue huckleberries
Blackberries

We picked over two gallons of blackberries in one day. We are freezing most of it for blackberry crisp throughout the rest of the year. We also enjoy a bowlful of berries and whipped cream many evenings.

Early girl tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes are putting on strong — faster than we can eat them. We are also getting many slicing tomatoes. I will make some salsa from them soon.

Sweet potato blossom

My early planting of sweet potatoes are thriving the vines are spreading out over three feet. My later row is disappointingly small. So I will definitely plant sweet potatoes earlier (first week of April) rather than June in the future.

Acorn squash
Green Hubbard squash

Acorn and Green Hubbard squash are forming. As is one watermelon. Hoping to get many squash this last month of the growing season.

Sugar baby Watermelon

Regular potato plants that I thought were done for the season have had a resurgence.

Nevada lettuce

My lettuce is growing strong. Though many plants have bolted due to our heat (it got to 110 degrees one day). The Nevada lettuce definitely is less bolt prone than some of my other varieties.

Red Russian kale

A few strawberries have put out even more runners. I will have to transplant maybe a hundred or more plants elsewhere. otherwise they will take over the whole garden. If only everything in our garden grew as easily as strawberries!

Lemon cucumber

We have harvested a few lemon cucumbers. Some of my plants are about 4-5 feet tall.

My katniss (Duck potatoes) and sunchokes are doing well. We will see how much of a harvest they have in a month or two.

Salsify is getting taller. Though my carrots have not germinated well yet. I might have to crack out my carpet germinating method again if I want many this winter.

July Gardening 2020

Green Hubbard squash blossoming

I am planting lettuce like wild and harvesting some each week. We still have to buy most of our lettuce, so I am trying to fix that. We will each usually eat a head of romaine in a single salad, so I cannot plant too much lettuce. I am planting a couple heat resistant varieties of lettuce — Nevada and Jericho romaine. Hopefully I can get enough planted to not have to buy greens anymore.

Nevada lettuce

My dragon tongue beans are already producing. I harvested one supper of beans from my plants. The blue lake beans are just starting to grow beans.

Dragon tongue beans
Blue lake beans growing up the fence

Snow peas are also coming on strong.

My squash and cucumbers have blossoms and are spreading out. Tomatoes are putting on green fruit but we have only harvested a handful of cherry tomatoes so far. I have been tying and guiding the cucumbers and tomatoes up our trellis. I hope the cucumbers will provide some shade for my lettuce as the days get hotter. We get over 100F here in our summers each year with no rain until September.

Strawberries put on several a week but just enough for eating a few fresh off the plant.

Blueberries are getting eaten by birds despite us going out every day to harvest. I will have to put up netting after all if we want any ripe ones.

Blueberries

Blackberries are just ripening. We enjoy a bowlful with some whipped cream each evening this time of year. I am looking forward to when we have peaches too (I only have a single peach this year).

My first Peach

Raspberries are putting on also but we only have a few plants still. They have not established very well yet. Hoping they do better next year.

My passion fruit has started a new vine with leaves after the ear wigs have finally left it alone! This is relieving as it was not looking well at all.

The sweet potatoes are vining out all over. My second row has hardly any sign of life, so planting the first week of June odds far too late. My first row I planted the first week of April but the second I decided last minute to plant.

My red kale has grown to harvesting size. I also planted a mess of carrot seeds next to my row of salsify which is growing up.

Red kale ready for some leaves to be harvested

I purchased some katniss (duck potato) from eBay which I planted on a couple five gallon buckets with dirt and water up to the brim. They have not done too well so far probably because of the heat and them being in containers. Hopefully they pull through or I will have to move them farther into the shade.

Katniss somewhat shriveled from the heat

My wintergreen has put on blossoms but has not grown at all from what I can tell.

My corn was slow starting due to late rainy weather and my irrigation not being setup correctly. I had not caught that two of my sprinklers were set to run for zero minutes each day for several weeks. The corn is liking the heat though and looks healthy.

Some of my onions have gotten huge! Others are still too small. I am trying to figure out what makes the difference as all are watered plenty and get sun. Could be the soil is better in certain areas? Some onions were shaded by my kale and chard which I have since pulled up and transplanted or fed to the chickens.

My potatoes have started dying back but some have recovered since I started watering them more. My rhubarb has finally established after me thinking it was going to die from bugs and not getting enough water.

Rhubarb

I harvested my first (and only) artichoke. My second plant does not look too happy without any buds but my forest looks great.

Artichoke right before harvesting

I have given several arugula and peppermint plants away as mine keep reproducing. Same with garlic. One garlic head was so big a family member thought it was elephant garlic (it is not). Watering it seems to make a big difference in size as I had not watered it the last couple years and most were pretty small.

Garlic head

My apples should be ready next month. Something ate my two cherries. My toddler ate all the red and black currants and tries to eat all the green blueberries. She has sure enjoyed harvesting all the berries this year.

Wild thimbleberries near my house

I planted some leaks as we only used the greens in one recipe. They grew the greens back and are looking strong. I am doing the same with romaine stalks.

My sunchokes are doing well though I have to water them extra as they are in buckets.

How to Irrigate a Garden

Overhead sprinkler in my garden

Water is one of the limiting factors for growth in gardening in the dry summers of the Pacific Northwest. Though it is possible to dry farm (grow with little to no irrigation), if you have limited space, irrigation is necessary.

Drip irrigation is the most efficient and works great if you plant in rows and do not need to disturb the tubing/emitters. If you have a low producing well or live in a drought, this is a great option. I use this for my food forest. Fertigation is another option (spraying the plants with compost tea or a fertilizer water mix).

The traditional method is overhead sprinklers. These ideally have overlap to avoid blind spots. I currently use 4 of these — one in each corner of my garden. Each has a good deal of overlap. Since my irrigation well is low production, I purchased a triple timer and a single one and time them to wait an hour between watering again for the well to fill again. It has not dried up yet, so I recommend this method for low production wells. I have a 1hp pump with built in pressure tank that I purchased for around $120 and I dug a 1” line about 250’ from the well to my garden. This has worked great so far. Overhead irrigation is less efficient and wastes more water than other methods. So if water is expensive or limited, this is not ideal.

I also have a raised bed with small sprinklers along one edge. This works well also.

Using automatic timers is a great way to save the hassle of having to remember to turn on sprinklers manually and can keep your garden alive when you are on vacation. Keep an eye on your irrigation though as I have had a couple instances where my timer was not setup or working properly putting my plants back quite a bit.

1-2” of water a week is the rule of thumb. Place a small bucket if you use overhead sprinklers to see how long you need to irrigate. With drip irrigation, read what your emitters advertise in gallon output and research what your plants require.

If you live somewhere with dry summers, one of these irrigation methods is a must. If you live somewhere summers are wet like the East coast, irrigation can still be important but no where near as essential. Keep an eye on your plants for wilting and occasionally feel the soil. Mulch can make your watering go further.

June Gardening 2020

After constructing a tomato and cucumber trellis, I have planted several cucumber plants at the base. I bought a lemon cucumber start to get a jump on the season as my ones grown from seed are still fairly small. We will see how the cucamelons do too. Many of my tomatoes have been growing rapidly and we have started harvesting the first of the cherry tomatoes.

Sun gold cherry tomatoes

Strawberries put on so many during June that we picked about a quart a day for a while. We had to freeze several quarts to keep them from spoiling. An evening treat of strawberries and whipped cream with granola is a family favorite! Later in the summer we will switch to blackberries.

Blueberries are starting to ripen. A bird got my two cherries on my tree before I could. Several apples are growing on my three small trees. I even have a single peach still growing. We have started to get a few raspberries too, but these plants have not fully established enough to get a reasonable harvest. My passion fruit got heavily raided by earwigs. I am hoping it recovers now that I have put down diatomaceous earth and check it every evening.

A small peach
Ripening Blueberries

Honey berries have stopped producing for the year as have most wild strawberries. The snow peas are putting on strong though and our lettuce is growing.

We are trying a new variety of lettuce called Nevada Lettuce which is a loose leaf variety resistant to bolting or bitterness in hot summers. So far we have been pleased with the results as long as I can keep the slugs controlled.

Nevada lettuce

My first row of sweet potatoes have come up and are starting to spread their vines out. My second row was planted a couple months later, so it will take a bit.

We had lots of late rain this year which has resulted in a surplus of slugs which ate many of my beans and lettuce. I replanted some and hope to still get a decent harvest. This also cost me several corn plants as they do not germinate well without hot days.

I also discovered my sprinkler timer was not set properly and half of my sprinklers were not coming on for weeks. I fixed this but my corn has not gotten enough water and is still small.

I have cleared out chard and kale to make room for squash. The chard and kale were going to seed anyway and I have relocated quite a few elsewhere. The chickens have enjoyed multiple chard plants a day for weeks.

Zucchini

I tried hatching chicks while one was broody, but none ended up making it due to the other hens stepping on the eggs. One made it to nearly full development though, so I will probably try again sometime.

I bought a couple katniss plants from eBay that have started to put on leaves. I planted them in a five gallon bucket of soil with no drainage holes and filled with water.

My red kale has come up and I tried some Savoy cabbage, but I think it was not early enough to get a harvest this year. My carrots that I planted from my own seed all came up wild, so even though I kept the wild carrots out of the garden, they are plentiful in my area and apparently have all the dominant traits. I will not be collecting carrot seed again as it unfortunately seems to be a bad fit for my area of plentiful wild carrots in pastures around my place. I planted more carrots from seed I purchased.

I also harvested some salsify I found growing wild. They were bitter as it is summer, but I got enough good flavor in with the bitterness that I decided to try growing domestic salsify. I planted some black salsify too. Both should do great in my area as the wild ones seem to.

Salsify (black and white)

My grape plants seem to finally be getting established and several feet of growth. Maybe we will get some actual grapes next year. My kiwi and mulberries still have no signs of life. The late frost killed the kiwi back to the ground in May and it has not recovered.

My green Hubbard squash plants have come up fast. I planted several of them and hope to get lots of squash this year. I have not had Hubbard squash before, but they say it is wonderful and tastes like sweet potato.

Hard white wheat almost ready to harvest

Building a Tomato and Cucumber Trellis

Over the years, I have grown tomatoes and cucumbers without any trellis or with the classic tomato rings, but letting tomatoes in particular crawl along the ground invites bugs and slugs. Cucumbers also can take up a lot of space and getting at your harvest can be tricky. Both cucumbers and tomatoes can become quite heavy, so make sure the trellis design you pick is heavy duty enough to handle the weight.

I have had tomato plants taller than me before, so I went with a trellis roughly my height. I was tired of the tomato rings bending, breaking, and falling over from the weight of my large tomato plants. This trellis will likely be temporary as we plan to move some of these crops to raised beds in the future.

We had some spare lumber left over from building a shop/greenhouse, so we picked some similar sized boards and cut them to match. We then screwed then together and even attached shelf bracing to the corners to add strength.

We used a post hole digger to easily dig for the trellis legs. It is not 100% straight but was good enough for our liking and will hold up quite a bit of tomatoes and cucumbers. I also plan to grow my Cucamelons up this trellis. I can alternate between cucumbers and tomatoes on whichever side to practice crop rotation.

We made it about six feet tall to accommodate fairly tall tomato plants. Anything taller can grow over the top.

The finished trellis

I tied twine at the top down to each tomato plant and tie it loosely to the base of each plant so it can grow thick and be guided up the twine. Same for cucumbers once they are large enough. You can then harvest from both sides of the trellis and the plants get more sunlight and air for a healthier life.

Twine tied to the top of the trellis and tied loosely to the bottom of the tomato plant

Internet on the Homestead

My satellite internet dish by my garden

Access to fast internet is becoming an important factor when buying a rural property. Some need fast internet for working from home while others would like to still watch Netflix or YouTube in some evenings.

The best case scenario is to have access to fiber from your home. This is pretty rare for rural areas, but it does not hurt to research and inquire. Ask your neighbors or google ISPs in your area and ask them if they offer fiber or at least some type of broadband internet.

Some ISPs use point to point microwave antennas to give several mbps speeds. This is not the best for HD video streaming, but it should work for at least SD streaming.

Some areas have cell service. Most companies have personal hotspot capability. As long as you do not use a ton of data, this may be your best option. Some of my neighbors use their cell carrier for their home internet with sides even streaming video. If you have 5G in your area, all the faster!

If there are no options for your area, do not give up hope yet. You can always get satellite internet. It is much better than it used to be, but for their cheapest plans, you might not be able to stream video in the evenings when many others are online. We pay $60 a month for our service and are throttled for all but one day of the month. We are fine with this, however, as we can’t afforda big enough plan to avoid throttling. The throttle speeds are still fast enough to stream video or FaceTime/Zoom during the day. Just some evenings (or most during a time like the pandemic) the speeds are sore enough that only YouTube works and even that on its lowest quality.

Downside to satellite internet are the high cost, throttling, latency (slight delay when in a video or audio call, but still usable), and the weather can sometimes affect the service. When it snows, I have to brush off the dish with a broom, and rain can sometimes stall the connection for a bit. Overall it is fairly usable though still not ideal.

SpaceX is releasing a new type of satellite internet that uses the near orbit. They advertise fiber speeds and low latency for anywhere in North America. This is supposed to come out fall of 2020. This could be a game changer if it lives up to their promises. No longer will rural areas have any slower connections than the big cities or 5G.

Best of luck finding a good ISP in your area. Though the internet is convenient and necessary for employment for some, remember that even if you cannot stream much in the evenings, you can always download from services like Netflix or Prime Video or find other activities as a family like reading a book. 🙂

May Gardening 2020

I planted my first row of sweet potatoes last month I plan to plant another row in a week or so once my new clear plastic arrives. My old plastic was unfortunately not UV treated, so it disintegrated into thousands of pieces. I am making extra sure my new one is UV treated. It is 4 year plastic and only $10 more than my previous supply for the amount I used.

A peach on my tree with a bit of leaf curl

I purchased a few tomato seedlings as backup for the several small ones I planted from seed. I spent less than $2 and all are doing well so far.

I also purchased a wintergreen plant and some lavender. Lavender attracts bees and can be used for scent in soaps or flavoring lattes while wintergreen can make a good tea, in root beer, and interesting berries.

Wintergreen and lavender

I transplanted my sunchokes to gallon bucket pots for now until we can get a raised bed built for them.

I have harvested several carrots so far. My self-seeded beets have been pretty fibrous, so I might feed most to the chickens. They may have cross pollinated with my chard, causing them to be more fibrous.

My potatoes have grown a lot. Slugs and ear wigs have chewed holes in the leaves, but I think they will still survive. I am now irrigation them now that my four sprinkler irrigation system is up and running.

I have been feeding a couple beet and chard plants to the chickens daily and transplanted my 2 year old kale plants elsewhere to make more room in my irrigated garden.

I have a couple peaches and cherries on my trees this year! And lots more apples. I planted a passion fruit vine and repaired the drip irrigation emitters that had broken. My grape and kiwi plants that got hit by a late frost have started recovering but are still fairly small. My honey berries that did not look so good last year have taken off and look great. We have harvested several honey berries though not more than a couple every few days. My nine blueberry bushes should help without our berry cravings though.

Wild strawberries

Wild strawberries have been growing like mad. We harvest a few handfuls every day. My garden strawberries have started putting on ripe berries too.

Seedlings before the mice found them

A couple mice found their way into my seedling growing area. They ate most of my squash, ground cherry, lettuce, and watermelon seedlings. I caught it the same day but the damage was done. I moved some more seedlings outside where something ate part of my largest cucumber seeding.

While transplanting my squash, tomatoes, and watermelon, the heat of the sun wilted their leaves in minutes. I soaked them very well after planting and they have all recovered.

Several purple asparagus have come up but not old or big enough to harvest.

Garlic is taking over the corner of my garden. Artichokes have survived their first winter and are getting bigger. Not sure if I will get a harvest this year or not. The rhubarb is hanging in there but not thriving yet with this sudden heat this week.

No sign of hopniss, mulberries, or much from my pomegranates yet. But I am hopeful they will come to life soon from being dormant.

My thyme and parsley are putting on new growth while the cilantro, I believe has self seeded from last year. I planted some stevia too and plan to get a rosemary started.

How to Supply All Your Own Food — Self Reliant Food

With missing items at the grocery store due to recent events, many are desiring to take growing food into their own hands.

Beet greens from the garden

Hunting and fishing are great ways to provide food for your family. Look into what tags or stamps are the best for the money and meat amount. Not minding the taste of the meat is important too. Canada geese can be very inexpensive to hunt — up to several a day can be hunted on a stamp. But some are not a fan of water fowl such as goose or duck meat. If you live near a creek or lake, fishing is a no brainer. Fresh trout is super healthy and delicious with minimal work to prepare them.

Wood Sorrel foraged

Foraging is a great way to stay alive if you have no other options. You can even eat the white inner bark of many trees to feed yourself if times were really dire. Cattails, wood sorrel, wild carrots, wild strawberries, chicory, even stinging nettles are edible. We eat dandelion greens in salads sometimes, cattail pancakes, and plenty of blackberries in the summer. Do not think you can learn about a few plants and you are set. Research poisonous look-a-likes carefully. Go foraging sometime. You will discover it is very hard to get full on foraged foods. It is a great skill to keep you alive. But do not take it for granted. Foraging is a great supplement to gardening.

Strawberries in the garden

Gardening is as close to a guarantee as you can get that your family will have at least some food. I highly recommend crops such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other root vegetables that will fill you up and give you energy. I have even grown wheat, but that requires a lot of labor (though not nearly as much space as you would think). Look into some more obscure tubers once you have the basics, to diversify. If blight takes out your potatoes, you can still have sunchokes or hopniss. I am hoping to re-establish Duck potatoes to a local creek too as it is a native plant with potato-like tubers. Oca is also something I am experimenting with. Grow primarily what you eat or at least what you are willing to eat. Look into perennials such as kale, chard, strawberries, fruit trees, asparagus, or artichoke in addition to those tubers we mentioned before. Zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, and lettuce can be very productive for the space as well and a joy to eat.

A Chicken egg in the coop

Livestock and gardening go great together too. Many homesteaders raise their own meat or dairy by chickens, pigs, sheep, cattle, or turkeys. Maybe start with raising some chickens and give them your extra produce. They will convert it to eggs. From there you can decide how much you like raising animals and how much time and resources you can commit to them. Having our own dairy cow is very tempting but a big time commitment. Maybe someday, but for now, I hope to find a small, local dairy I can buy a share with.

Do what you can to provide the basic necessities for your family. But try not to live in constant fear. Anxiety can kill you plenty fast in itself. Be thankful for what you have and a life so far not having to worry about starvation. We will all pull through these harder times.

Why not remove reliance upon grocery stores as a hobby and cut your food bill at the same time?

April Gardening 2020

Beets

Potatoes have produced many greens. A hard frost last night burnt the majority of them, but I am sure they will recover from the setback.

Potatoes frost burnt with a dandelion and artichoke

My kale and chard are starting to bolt. Garlic is growing strong like always, and my 80-100 onions are getting taller. I have gotten a couple dozen carrot plants from overseeding and a new germination method. Artichokes are getting taller, and my peppermint has come back. I have not harvested our beets yet but plan to soon. I topped off the wood chips in our garden from moles turning over soil. This is avoiding too many weeds so far.

Carrots

In the food forest, most fruit trees have grown some leaves and several blossoms each. Many more blossoms than last year. Even my peach trees had blossoms despite one of these trees not having put on leaves until June last year.

Peach blossoms

I planted nine fully mature blueberry bushes from a neighbor who was kind enough to give me them as they were clearing room for a different garden. Each plant took an hour to dig up as their roots were two feet deep and a couple feet wide. This was a ton of work, but if they make it, we should have blueberries for decades.

I transplanted some strawberries to the food forest as they are taking over in my main garden. Though I transplanted a couple dozen or more plants, I probably have hundreds left in my garden from the dozen I planted last year’s runners.

Strawberry plants (several varieties)

I am adding weed cloth in several areas as weeds are taking over a good portion of the food forest and fence lines. This and some wood chips should help contain them.

As I am hoping to water my garden from a separate water supply than our house, I am installing a new water system. I dug a sump well in a wet location on the property by hand and have twenty minutes of water from it every hour. If needed, I can dig it deeper. I will run my sprinklers in zones to limit the water needed so I do not run this well dry.

We are putting trusses up in our shop. Once that is done, we can start sheeting the roof and sides. The greenhouse will not be worked on until the shop is finished. It sure will be nice to have for next growing season.