I like to grow a large variety of vegetables and herbs in the garden every year. Each year we try something new, while keeping our favorites from years past.
This year's crop includes Toy Choi, a single serving size Pak Choi or Chinese cabbage. This is the first time we are trying this vegetable. It already seems at home in the Pocono garden.
Toy Choi offers smooth, dark green foliage arising from pure white stalks, firm and crisp to the bite. The flavor is quite mild, tender and succulent. They are great in stir-fry dishes and salads.
After starting the seeds indoors, they were transplanted to a raised bed, protected with a portable greenhouse cover or into pots. The pots have been outside during the day and brought into the greenhouse at night. The potted Toy Choi is already contributing to fresh salads.
Squash is easy to grow and comes in so many varieties that you are sure to find one for your garden. It is commonly divided into 3 groups: summer, winter and gourd.
Summer squash has a soft, thin skin, like a zucchini. It is available in a few varieties. Most common are zucchini and yellow squash. You can not store them for long periods of time. They must be canned or frozen for storage.
Winter squash has a tough skin or rind, like a pumpkin. There are dozens of different cultivars. The ones you see most often are butternut, acorn and pumpkin. Because of their tough skin, they can be stored for months.
The third group is inedible squash or gourds. They have a tough skin like the winter squash. Fun for fall and winter decorations. Some can be dried and have a purpose other than just decorative. Birdhouse gourds, luffa (pronounced loo-fah) sponges and some pumpkins are in this category.
A regular component of our garden is a selection of pumpkins. This year we have limited it to the miniature varieties of Baby Boo and Jack Be Little. Those are 3 to 4 week old seedlings in the photo on the left.
I need to start them early. If I wait until late May or early June (as the packaging would suggest) I just do not get to it. I am always too busy with the half dozen tomato cultivars we grow, or weeding, to get to the pumpkins.
Baby Boo pumpkins are miniature, 3” ghost white pumpkins. Jack Be Littles are mini classic orange pumpkins. 3" across and just a squat 2” tall. Grown on compact vining plants that reach just 36” long. Great for fall or winter decorating and kids love them. They can be planted three to a hill, in a large container or at the edge of the garden, supported with trellis.
Zebra gourds are adorable. They look like mini, 4" pumpkins that have already been decorated for you. They are dark green and cream striped. Fun for fall & winter decorating.
The seeds have a high germination rate, so you do not need many. We purchased ours from Park's Seeds.
They grow on long 16-20’ vines. They can be planted 2 to a hill or in a corner of the garden. They do not require a lot of care. Just be sure to water the base of the plants, not the leaves. They are susceptible to powdery mildew.
This year we are growing 2 varieties of summer squash: Pool Ball and Scalloped or Patty Pan squash. Both are hybrids. We like them because they do not take up a lot of room, are easy to grow and are prolific producers of small vegetables.
Pool Ball hybrids are small, personal sized, round squash with thin skin. Plants produce yellow, dark or light green veggies. Picked at just 3” or a little larger for stuffed squash. Bushy, compact plants only 2-3’ tall are great for smaller gardens or containers on a deck or patio.
The Patty Pan hybrids are compact 15-18” tall plants that produce unique scalloped squash. Plants produce either dark green, white or yellow UFO-esque vegetables. Excellent when picked for a baby vegetable stir-fry or an interesting kabob.
|Just a couple of notes for new growers of summer squash.|
If you think it is almost ready to be picked, pick it. They grow incredibly fast. You look at it & think "its almost ready, I'll wait a couple of days." The next time you see it, it will be huge! The bigger they get the bigger the seeds get. The skin also begins to toughen.
Also, the more you pick off the squash,
the more the plant will produce.
Vegetables, page 2
Cucumbers - Vegetables page 3
Eggplant - Vegetables, page 4
Growing Potatoes, page 5
Potato varieties, page 6
Tomatoes, page 7
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