Tuesday, January 8, 2008

First Frost

Ok, so I'm writing this long after the pictures were taken. The last few weeks of fall were hectic. But I have some loose ends to tie up from the squash patch, one of them being the frost.

These photos were taken on Thursday, October 18. When I looked out first thing in the morning the patch looked fine. Midday we had a knock on our door, and there were two women who introduced themselves as Jehovah's Witnesses. I politely indicated that I wasn't really interested in talking with them. They smiled, kindly, and one of the women commented about how nice my garden looked. I thanked her for the compliment. "You haven't been hit by frost yet!" she noted with surprise. Lots of places already had their first frost by then, but I was pleased that frost had thus far missed us.

Perhaps I should have said that I was grateful to God for the garden. Perhaps the damage that I noticed when I went out in the afternoon to harvest was His revenge for my being too smug about my good fortune. But there apparently had been frost damage after all, wilting the outer leaves on my plants, and killing the cucumbers (far left in the top photo) outright. The squash plants were still alive under the dead leaves, but in the cold they were producing very slowly. I spent about 40 minutes that afternoon harvesting 90 small patty pan squash and 40 zucchini squash, a total of about 7.8 lbs. On Friday I did a "salvage" harvest of squashes that are tiny, but still edible. Took another hour, and yielded another 6.9 lbs. Most of it came to the Nampa Farmers' Market with me on Saturday, Oct. 20.

I put the smallest squashes into pint baskets and sold each basket for $1. I sold 9 baskets, plus another $11 worth of larger squash, a total of $19. There was about $9 worth of squash left unsold. No matter, it was just enough for another few meals for us.

There was still a bit of growth left on the plant the following week. On Friday, Oct. 26 I harvested for the last time, about 7.5 lbs. It made up 12 pint baskets of tiny squash, each about 11 oz. (including basket). They sold out. It was our last market of the season.

Soon I hope to post the total yield and income from my 2007 squash patch. This year, 2008, perhaps I'll be able to start earlier and do better. Meanwhile, I've posted the results of my 2006 squash project for SARE on my website. I'll be doing a poster and presentation about it in March at the National SARE conference. Plus, I hope to add some information to this blog about some of the squash research that Ive been reading, and what it tells me about the dynamics of squash growth.

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