Contents (Click on a title or scroll)
Food of the Month:
Butternut Squash (Cucurbita moschata)
By: Jane Denay, EMG Trainee
Squash have a long relationship with human civilization, with seeds dating back 12,000 years ago found in Ecuadorian caves. In the Americas, squash was one of three primary crops, the other two being maize and beans. Known as the “Three Sisters” by the Iroquois, these crops worked symbiotically. The corn provided a growing structure for the climbing beans and the bean vines better rooted the corn to ground so the stalks were not as easily blown over or washed out. The beans fixed nitrogen in the soil to fertilize the corn and squash, especially since corn uses a lot of nitrates out of the soil. The squash vi
nes acted as living mulch to shade out weed plants and retain moisture in the soil, while the prickly stems deterred pests from “helping” with the harvest. When the three crops were eaten together, they provided a nutritional balance of carbohydrates, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins. The word “squash “comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which mean “eaten raw or uncooked.”
a moschata are the Winter squash. They are botanically distinct from the Summer squash. The moschata take longer to mature, have hard skins and their stems are round. Picking does not begin until after the vine decline. Allow them to cure in garden for two to three weeks before storing. Butternut squash will keep longer than other moschata, Winter squash, so use the others first. Store in a dry and dark place where the temperature is between 50 and 55°F. For prolonged storage, do not pile the squash more than two fruit deep. It is preferable, where space allows, to place the fruits in a single layer so that they do not touch each other. This arrangement minimizes the potential spread of rots. With proper storage they can keep 3-6 months.
For specific information on planting refer to your Extension Master Gardener Training Manual.
Squash Bee information:
Additional reference information:
Roasted Butternut Squash, Onion and Apple Pizza
By: Jane Denay, EMG Trainee
You will likely not find this pizza on a restaurant menu, but you will find it in your garden or at this time in your root cellar. You will not find specific measurements as the construction is rather organic and up to you.
½ Butternut squash (or other Winter squash) peeled and chopped into ¼-½ inch cubes
1 small to medium onion coarsely chopped
1 apple large chopped (no need to peel as the peel adds nice color)
Gorgonzola cheese crumbled
Mozzarella cheese grated
Pizza dough for one pizza
Several handfuls of Arugula for serving
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- On a cookie sheet, lightly drizzle olive oil over chopped butternut squash and onions
- Roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes stirring occasionally until squash is tender.
- Put your pizza stone in the oven during roasting.
- When squash and onions are tender, remove them and the pizza stone from the oven.
- Turn heat up to 425 degrees.
- Sprinkle cornmeal on hot pizza stone putting pizza dough on top of it.
- Brush pizza dough with olive oil and sprinkle roasted butternut squash and onion over the crust, then apples, gorgonzola, and mozzarella cheeses.
- Bake for 15-17 minutes
- Sprinkle arugula on top of pizza for serving
Will you be ready for seed starting?
By: Molly Bacon, EMG Trainee
Along with the MGANM February presentation on seed starting, it would be a good idea to start preparing the items needed so you are ready to have fun, without scrambling around locating supplies, with seed starting. This is especially important if some items will need to be ordered and slower shipping times may happen. This year it appears that many more people became enthused about home gardening and I imagine they will try their hand at seed starting. Planning early is best so you do not get caught short.
The categories include:
Location: Your seedlings will take up some space for several weeks and moving them is not usually a good idea.
Containers: There are so many possibilities from formal seedling trays to Styrofoam cups and egg cartons.
Growing Medium: Appropriate seed starting mixes are critical and it is best to not reuse last year’s mixture.
Temperature: Since most seeds germinate quicker when the soil is consistently 70 degrees or higher (some need 80 to 85 degrees) you need to decide how to keep the seeds warm. Heat mats are a simple way to ensure the proper temperature but be careful since some are not temperature controlled and this can be a problem.
Moisture: Mini greenhouses can be accomplished with plastic wrap or a fancier dome over the containers. A spray bottle works well to not harm the seedlings.
Light: Once the seeds sprout the proper lighting will make the difference between sturdy seedlings and leggy/spindly seedlings. A shop-light fixture on a chain that can be raised/lowered is an inexpensive way to provide the correct light.
Fertilizer: Once your seedlings start to grow a quality, water-soluble fertilizer will give them the necessary nutrients.
Transplanting: Think about what containers should be the next step and what tools might be needed to move the seedlings without harm to them.
Seeds: This is the most fun since soon the various seed companies will start to send their catalogs. Going online is also a great way to start making choices. Making the selections and ordering early is a good idea, especially if there is a larger than usual amount of people ordering seeds this year.
Speaking of seeds, a good article from Joe Gardener, The Informed Seed Shopper: What to Know Before You Buy
The Well-Gardened MIND: The Restorative Power of Nature
Author: Sue Stuart-Smith, Copyright: 2020, Published by: Scribner
Reviewed by: Jane Denay, EMG Trainee
What brought you to gardening, what keeps you gardening, what inspires you to share your passion for gardening? In Sue Stewart-Smith’s The Well Gardened MIND: The Restorative Power of Nature you may frequently find yourself on her garden paths.
Stewart-Smith is a psychiatrist, gardener and student of literature who brings together life experiences with research exploring the relationship between our evolutionary brain, mental health, and gardening. She offers cultivation as an inward and outward activity that can make us whole. Prisoners given both opportunity and training to garden are less apt to reoffend. At risk youth, who are able to get their hands in soil, are more likely to stay in school. For the elderly, gardening provides a source of existential contemplation of the seasons of life and hope that a seed or bulb can provide. Through the eons, there is evidence that soldiers have been found to engage in gardening activities in conflict zones. Thus, not surprisingly, those healing from illness, trauma and burn-out are able, transform their lives through the restorative power of gardening.
In reading The Well-Gardened MIND, you will be renewed in your own knowing that gardening is an activity in which “we can experience a different kind of knowing, one that is sensory and physical, and which stimulates the emotional, spiritual, and cognitive aspects of our being.” Master Gardeners will be validated in their projects that serve their communities through the generative power of gardening.
Stewart-Smith lives in Hertfordshire, England with her husband Tom Stuart-Smith, a celebrated garden designer, where they have created their phenomenal Barn Garden.
“To make some sense of life.
We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We’ll do the best we know
We’ll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow…
And make our garden grow.”
MGANM Garden Book Club
We are excited to announce the beginning of the MGANM Garden Book Club beginning January 1, 2021. The first selection is a wonderful book titled Uprooted: A Gardener Reflects on Beginning Again by Page Dickey. There will be a Zoom meeting near the end of January to discuss the book and have a little fun.
If you are interested, please log into MGANM.org and enter the Member’s Area. Update your profi
le by selecting “Garden Book Club” under Committees”. You will then start receiving
emails and links to the Zoom discussion. In the meantime, please get a copy of uprooted and start reading.