Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hot Town, Summer in the City

On the way to the IGC Trade Show last Tuesday, Michigan Avenue was calling me. I spent a few moments at the Art Institute north garden and the Lurie, and both were dressed in their August finery. Hope you enjoy this Lovin' Spoonful of summer in the city.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Independent Garden Center Show

Last Tuesday I got to attend the 2009 IGC Trade Show at Navy Pier. Mr.Brown Thumb and I hung out together visiting the booths, meeting lots of new folks and renewing acquaintances with familiar faces including a few 2009 Spring Fling sponsors.

Although not open to the public, we were able to attend with press passes by virtue of being garden bloggers. The show was a delight to attend, and I hope to make it again next year. Although these slide shows sacrifice photo quality, they're a good way to share a lot of photos without using too much photo memory on Blogger.

Thanks to Mr.Brown Thumb for his help getting a press pass! You can check out his perspectives on the show at two of his blogs, Mr.Brown Thumb, and Chicago Garden.

Friday, August 21, 2009

A Welcome Change

I was never big on annuals, but since moving here I've enjoyed having them in containers on the patio, and sprinkled around the garden. There aren't a lot of choices that bloom well in shade. The last couple of years I've planted a few flats of pastel impatiens, and wanted to rip them out by September last year - the pastels just weren't doing it for me anymore.

By October they seemed a washed-out accompaniment to autumn's vibrancy . We didn't have frost until November, and by then I was sick to death of pastel pink. This year it was time for a change, and I chose bright reds, oranges, apricots, and hot pink.

We both approve.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

August 2009 Bloom Day

Happy Bloom Day everyone, and thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Lakota Twins

The twins are doing great - growing nicely, getting a little bigger every day.

Sitting at the edge of the garden picking lettuce, cucumbers, peppers, or beans; big, bright, bold, beautiful squash blossoms perfume the air with the promise of more squash to come.

This year I planted two varieties of squash - Lakota and Red Kuri, both in the hubbard squash family. The twins are Lakota squash, a mid-1990's open-pollinated introduction developed at the University of Nebraska by Dr. D. P. Coyne. Dr. Coyne experimented with crosses and selections to assure more uniform pigmentation of this beautiful squash before making it available to the trade.

Lakota squash was developed from seeds obtained by the University from Nebraska's Fort Robinson, once a prairie Cavalry post, later an agricultural site, now a National Park. The variety it was derived from is no longer in cultivation. It had been grown by Native American peoples along the Missouri Valley for centuries before the arrival of Europeans to the continent. This indigenous squash was also cultivated by the troops stationed at Nebraska's Forts Atkinson and Robinson, and by early Nebraska settlers.

Since my maternal gardening roots go back several generations to the family farm in Nebraska and include Native American ancestors, the heritage of this squash spoke to me. I had to try it in my first veggie bed in more than five years.

Besides being delicious, winter squash is a nutritional powerhouse high in nutrients such as vitamins A, and C, potassium, manganese, folic acid and other B vitamins, omega 3 fatty acids and fiber, and low in fat. In addition, properly cut from the vine, cured, and stored under the right cool, dry conditions with space between them for air circulation, winter squash can be stored for several months.

When ripe, the twins will be deep orange and green. Lakota squash is described as having a sweet, smooth, nutty flavor, similar to Red Kuri, which I love.

If I hadn't tried Red Kuri squash a couple years ago and then couldn't find it anywhere again, I might not have a veggie garden this summer. I can hardly wait to try these squash, and the Red Kuri too!

Squash and other vining plants can be trellised and grown even in a small garden like mine. Growing them on a trellis saves space in the garden, leaving room for growing more veggies. Even in larger gardens such as Mom's pictured below, trellising works very well with squash, improving air circulation and helping prevent fungal diseases, and keeping the fruit and foliage off the ground, freer of insect damage.

It seems most people have a love it or hate it relationship with squash. Since I was a little girl I've always loved it. What about you - love it or hate it? If you love it, what's your favorite variety?