Category Archives: Organic Gardening and Farming

The BEST Butternut Squash Soup!

I had been craving a rich, creamy, aromatic, roasted butternut soup for weeks now! I’m in the second trimester of my 5th child and have to respond to these cravings! So I finally had a cold rainy day with no dinner ideas so I got to work making my long awaited soup!

I begin by cutting my squash in half lengthwise. Lay face up on baking sheet. Sprinkle with fresh grated nutmeg, cracked pepper, pink Himalayan sea salt, and garlic powder. A whole peeled sweet Vidalia onion and a persimmon (apple or pear would work too) added to the sheet also. Roast in oven on 400°F for an hour.

Will be fork tender and your house will smell amazing! Let cool to touch after removing from oven. Then spoon out the squash flesh from the skin to prepare to blend it smooth. You can use an immersion blender or something like my Ninja Blender.

Add onion, persimmon and inside of squash and blend. You will have to add your broth as you go. It can be vegetable or meat broth, store bought or homemade. I used the organic chicken broth from Kroger. Blend until smooth.

Now pour into a cast iron (enameled like mine) or stainless steel pan and add your favorite spices! You can go sweet or savory here and I went with both and I leaned in an Indian flavor direction because I felt like it (pregnancy cravings have to be obeyed). For the sweet side I used more fresh grated nutmeg, a dash of Ceylon cinnamon and have seen people use pumpkin pie spice. Then for Indian highlights I did a pinch or masala, a dash of curry powder and some cumin. A little salt and pepper and we had the perfect flavor profile… almost! Then I bring to simmer on low to medium heat. Be careful not too hot or splatters will burn you.

When you get a low simmer it’s time to add the final ingredient, a can of coconut cream to bring all those flavors together and create a creamy texture that makes you just want to keep eating bowl after bowl!

I don’t know if it was because this was the perfect recipe ever created or if those pregnancy hormones were on overdrive but I couldn’t stop tasting it before dinner! I had three sample bowls before dinner was even served!

I had every intention in the world of taking all the leftovers and putting into individual serving sizes in freezer. But in two days there was nothing left! It was even better the second day! I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did! Leave a comment down below of you changed it up and put your own spin on it!

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5 Things You NEED to Know to Grow Summer Squash!

Summer Squash:

One of my favorite things to eat but not to grow…

Some reasons why; squash bugs (stink bug), squash vine borers (moth larva), and powdery mildew (fungus)…

I have grown squash as long as I can remember and in every state I have lived in across the US. Growing squash in Georgia is hard! The pest here are so bad that it makes it a loosing battle every time! I’m lucky if I get a couple of fruit per plant. But for some reason I still plant it! I really do love squash!

 

So here are my issues and the best ways I have found to deal with them.

    • Squash bugs: Monitor plants daily and remove every stink bug you see, crushing or drowning in soapy water. Also, scout for shiny copper eggs on and under side of leaves and remove and destroy them. 
    • Squash vine borers: Repel the adult from laying eggs by putting foil around base of stem at soil line or wash same area daily with horticulture soap or oil to remove and/or kill the eggs.  If already in stem, frass (poop) will be evident at base and plant will be wilting, surgery will be only hope now.  Early in morning cut into stem with clean sharp knife going upward with stem without cutting through to the other side, look inside hollow stem for white worm like larva and kill it. Cover cut stem together with moist compost to encourage rooting, keep watered while new roots develop. Some people have success covering with floating row covers but they must be removed at flowering to allow pollinators in to do their job. Also, planting a few weeks after the peak of squash vine borers may give you a better chance. Some squash varieties are more resistant like the ‘Lemon’ squash in the picture at the top.
    • Powdery mildew: Warm and wet weather encourages this fungus so be sure to avoid watering leaves. Many people suggest different home remedies for this like, Epsom salt, baking soda and milk but I had little success with all that. Using a neem oil spray will help prevent and treat this. It must be reapplied often. Prevention is key when trying to control any fungus so make sure you keep leaves as dry as possible and allow for plenty of air circulation. Always trim off the most infected leaves and dispose of in the trash not your compost and wash hands and tools well to help prevent the spread of the spores.
    • Pollination: Squash plants have both male and female flowers on the same plant. The male flower has a long upright, thin stem and tends to be the first blooms on your plant. These early blooms are great to harvest for stuffed fried squash blossoms. Female flowers are closer to the main stem with shorter, thicker stem and often a fruit like structure. The pollen from male flower must enter the female flower in order for fruit to develop. This is typically done by bees and other pollinators. If you are lacking in pollinators in your garden you may have to hand pollinate. If you have female flowers falling off with no fruit growing its time to step in.
    • Seed Crossing/Cross Pollination: Summer squash are classified as Cucurbita pepo as well as many others including, zucchini, pumpkin, gourd and many more. So having two different species of these planted in the same garden can make saving seed difficult or at least interesting! The fruit will grow and look the same this year but the resulting seed could be cross pollinated and there is no telling what you could get! I once had ‘Lemon’ and ‘Zephyr’ summer squash cross which was a nice accident! So if you have a desire to save seeds you will need to keep them very far away from each other and hand pollinate.

 

All in all, it’s really worth it when you get to harvest yummy squash!

Do you have any advice to share about squash!?

Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 5. Growing Success: Planning

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Planning:

Now the fun part, Planning! If you read my previous Soil post to get here or the other three before it, congratulations! We are almost there! You will have the garden of your dreams in no time, I promise! But first you must have a plan!

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Organic Vegetable Gardening Made Easy: 4. Getting Started: Soil Building

So you read my last post about Bed Preparation and you are ready to get started! So now comes the most important part! Soil!

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Soil Building

Turning your soil into some of the best growing medium takes some effort usually. Very few areas have perfect soil for growing in. Regional differences can change your soil dramatically. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it all in the first year. Improvements can be made every year, all year-long. There is no wrong time to fix your soil.

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