Sauteed Squash Zucchini and Onion Recipe

This is my favorite thing to do with summer squash (well, this and the casserole thing).  It tastes incredible and it’s so easy!  A friend gave me some zucchini and squash this week (bless her heart – she feels sorry for me getting my garden in so late).  So this is what I did:

  • 3 or 4 zucchini and summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion (I used two, but mine from my garden were really small)
  • 2 tbs butter (or a bit more)
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/3 cup grated cheddar or colby jack cheese

Melt the butter and add the garlic and onion.  Sautee these on medium heat until tender, then add the remaining ingredients.  Stir together and cook until the squash is tender.  Remove from heat, then add the cheese.  Salt & pepper to taste.  Oh my gosh … so good.

What a Difference a Rain Makes

While other parts of the country are either drowning in diluvian amounts of rain, or burning from epic firestorms, my humble little corner of western Missouri has been experiencing a fairly noteworthy period of drought this year.  I have not mowed my lawn in upwards of a month now – and there has been no need to do so (other than trimming those drought-defying weeds).

As a result, I realized after putting the garden in a couple of weeks ago that I was going to need to provide a lot of water myself — if I wanted the plants to live, that is.   But last night, after weeks without a drop of moisture from the heavens, we finally received in excess of an inch of rain.  Oh … yeah …!

A person can water plants using city water services and it will sustain their lives and even promote growth.  But for some reason, open the floodgates of the heavens, and plants go NUTS over the stuff.  I went out this morning to see vibrant colors, vigorously sprouting seedlings, wide open leaves, and obvious growth overnight.  Apparently, for plants, rainwater seems to have a steroid-like influence.

I’m hopeful we will find ourselves back in a regular cycle of rain, but unfortunately we are dangerously close to the stretch of summer when moisture becomes much harder to come by anyway.  It may well end up being a very long, dry summer.

2012 Square Foot Garden Tracker

I’m going to try to keep track of what I do in the garden this year.  Seems like the blog is easy to let fall by the wayside.  But if I can log what I’m doing (both right and wrong), maybe I can make some progress next time.

Planting

I’ve rearranged the beds this year.  In the south bed, there are two cherry tomato plants, two eggplants, a pepper, basil, dill, summer squash, lettuce, bush beans and a couple of squares of corn.  I’m late on getting everything in, but it’s all there and should have sufficient time to produce.  I’m going to just keep planting a row of lettuce every other week to month or so throughout the summer, and try to keep what is already growing shocked enough to not bolt.  I planted a summer hearty leaf lettuce.

The north square has more corn, a big boy tomato, strawberries, cucumber, bush bean, and winter squash.  Outside the square I have a zucchini against the porch and cilantro and spicy oregano in pots.

Water and Fertilizer

We’ve had very little rain this year, which is good from the standpoint that I haven’t had to mow much, but bad from the standpoint that if it keeps up, I’ll be watering the garden myself.  I water only when the soil gets dry, to where I can’t feel moisture more than a couple of inches down into the bed when I stick my finger in.  It amounts to watering every four or five days, I suppose.  But the squares with seedlings get it more often, as do the potted plants, which need it every day or two.  Fortunately we’ve had cool weather.

I added lime to the garden last fall to neutralize pH, and then sprayed it with Miracle-Gro this spring.  I’ve also used a fertilized compost.  My plan is to use Miracle-Gro once every week or two for the first month.  This should encourage vigorous leaf and stalk growth, which is my strategy for the early stage.  Then I will switch over to monthly applications of compost/manure.  I don’t want to spray the garden so much that it affects the critters down in the soil, but I want the plants to get a good head start foliage-wise, before letting them focus more of their energy into producing fruit.

South Bed

North Bed

Zucchini

Potted Cilantro & Oregano

Operation: Serpent Rescue

I had some guys come and haul off a bunch of brush and tree limbs that I had cut around the yard today.  In the process, they found some old bird netting in my yard that a red-sided garter snake had gotten caught in.  They weren’t impressed, but I actually like snakes and couldn’t stand to see him suffer and die as he was terribly wound up and constricted by this tight net.  While garter snakes can bite to defend themselves, they aren’t venomous and this one was so worn out (likely from struggling), that he was quite content to let me work on freeing him. I’m sure he sensed that I was trying to help and not hurt.

After a good thirty minutes of cutting the worst of it off, three links remained around his torso that were very tight, even inhibiting him from breathing easily.  My neighbor, a retired dentist, came to the rescue with a dental instrument that was perfect for getting between the snake’s skin and the net.  As soon as he was free of the last link, he scurried away as fast as he could.  He might be hard to see in the pictures, but he had beautiful coloring. (P.S. ~ if you wonder which snakes are poisonous in Missouri and which aren’t, the venomous types have vertical slits for pupils, while non-poisonous varieties have full, round pupils.)

My Friend the Snake

Garter Snake - Rescued

Garter Snake - Rescued

It’s Mid-May … GROW TIME

Let’s update the progress of the garden.

First off, now I’m wishing I would have transplanted the strawberries last fall or spring.  Because they are outta control and taking over the planet.  They are going to crowd my other stuff.  I just can’t bring myself to thin them.  They are FULL of berries and the first red one showed up yesterday.

North Garden Square

North Garden Square

I am also wishing I would have planned a bit better.  The zucchini and the cantaloupe are going to be crowded for sure.  They are on either corner on the north side of the square, and I intend to train them up and over the sides.

The south square is in pretty good shape, but I do wish I would have allowed for more space for the squash.  However, the things on both sides around the squash are earlier harvest items, so I should be in decent shape there.

South Garden Square

South Garden Square

Watermelon is growing in the peat pots.  I have plans for the melon and pole beans, which are going on a new terrace up on my hillside that is under construction.  The tomatoes, which were planted from seed a little over a month ago, are now approaching a foot tall.  I have four plants instead of two to fight my epic squirrel battle.  Cilantro and dill is growing in an herb pot.

Tomatoes Growing

Tomatoes Growing

Watermelon Seedlings

Watermelon Seedlings

Cilantro and Dill

Cilantro and Dill

Oregano

Oregano

The early planting this year actually paid off.  There were two or three more freezes and even a bit of snow after I planted, but the beets, onions, cabbage, broccoli and peas are all growing with great gusto!  Next month I’ll post an update on the terrace project and hopefully the beans and watermelon will be planted by then.  I’m also planning to add pumpkin to the project, and the strawberries will be relocated to the hillside this fall, leaving me more room for other items in the squares next season.

Spring Is Here … Which Means It’s Time for a New Square Foot Garden!

This past weekend was just the best!  Why?  Because it warmed up suddenly, and we officially switched seasons (OH … YEAH), and so it came time for me to get my seed together and plan my squares for the coming year.  I’m doing a full three season garden this year (unlike last, where I got started a few weeks late to enjoy the early spring stuff).

No More of This Winter Stuff!

No More of This Winter Stuff!

Potted Seedlings

I’ll start with these.  I’m planting EVERYTHING from seed this year (no plants from Home Depot!).  I wanted to take them from start to finish this time.  I’m planting four tomato plants this year (and have ordered appropriate measures to ward off my squirrel nemeses!).  Two hybrid plants and two heirlooms.  I’m also planting two of each of the following:  jalapenos (I’m still eating the pickled ones from last year … OMG they’re good), large bell peppers, egg plants, cantaloupe and watermelon.  I’m going to go ahead and plant a zucchini and a couple of yellow squash in pots today as well.  I’m going to hold off on the cukes and just plant them in the soil on the first of May … those things are so prolific out there I am not even concerned about getting them going early.  I’ll harden everything off a week before May 1st and then transfer everything outside.

Potted Seedlings for Garden

Potted Seedlings for Garden

Experimental Early Planting

It seems way early to plant outside.  March 21st, first day of spring.  There are still several more freezes ahead of us over the next month.  But I went ahead and planted my cold soil crop yesterday.  It was 82 degrees here!  The soil will stay warm enough through the end of the week to support germination, and then I’ll stay on the lookout to protect the little fellers on the cold nights ahead.  I planted cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, peas, onions and beets.  Not as sure about the beets as the other stuff, but hopefully they’ll hold up ok.

South Square Foot Garden

South Square Foot Garden - Planted

The strawberries definitely extended the boundaries of their territory last fall, and I now have new runner plants showing up in about seven squares.  I plan to transplant these into a strawberry pot before planting the summer veggies in that square.  I should have PLENTY of berries this year to keep me going.  Still have some cleanup on that square too.  The oregano is growing back, which is nice to see.

North Square Foot Garden

North Square Foot Garden - Ready to Plant

So that’s it … day one has come and gone and we’re officially underway!  :)

Cry Havoc and Let Slip the Squirrels of WAR!

The first time it happened, I was disappointed. The second time, I thought I could still find a solution … but after the ten or twelfth time, I’m ready for all out battle!

It took WEEKS for the first tomato to start to ripen (finally). When it began turning red, I felt giddy. In just a few short days, I would be eating my first, sweet, vine-ripened tomato. I was excited.

The day finally came … I knew when I got up in the morning that I would be eating fresh tomato for lunch that day. Went out to the garden, whistling all the way, only to take one glance, drop everything in my hands and come to the horrific realization that the tomato … my precious … was completely gone – stripped off the vine!

At first I immediately blamed my neighbors. Those worthless tomato-rustling neighbors!  How dare they be bold enough to waltz into my yard and take the fruit of my labor. (I tend to blame my neighbors for just about everything that’s wrong with the world anyway.)

Then I caught the flash of red out of the corner of my eye, and spied the half-eaten tomato half buried in the grass east of the house.

S-Q-U-I-R-R-E-L-S-!!!!

How dastardly.

As the weeks went by, I realized this case was not isolated, and that time and again I would have to deal with losing my harvest to these dang critters.  What do they want from me?  I have an enormous black walnut tree in my yard that feeds them and their broods for months during the summer and into the winter, as they return to dig up their buried bounty all over my yard. For some reason, the squirrels feel like I’m going to all this hard work just for them.

Anyway, it happened time and again.  And last week the proverbial last straw was drawn when I woke up, went out to see a beautiful tomato just waiting for me … came back literally two hours later, only to find it stripped from the plant and laying half destroyed on the ground.

So I surrounded the plants in netting and fencing, hoping to fend them off (pulling the nets off my grape vines and getting a case of poison oak in the process). I wrapped it TWICE, so much so that I could no longer even get to the tomatoes any more, knowing it would take the jaws of life for me to finally release them to my possession.

Ahh, finally … the victory is mine!

Or so I thought.

The tomatoes turned red, I went out to check on them, and every last tomato was taken from the lead plant. They had weasled their way through the perimeter, past the inner defenses, through the shields and right into a feast fit for kings.

So now I’m reduced to picking the tomatoes green and letting them ripen inside.  Sigh.  I might as well go buy them in the store.

Next year … oh oh oh … next year. They will be shocked to discover the electric fencing I’ve installed. And I won’t be satisfied to give them a mild zap. I’m going to wind that thing up until it rivals the Texas penal system. I want to go out there only to find a smoldering tail on the ground.  LOL … nah, I’m not that mean. They’ll survive.

But I’m going to eat my ripe tomatoes.

I have not yet begun to fight!  (But I am going to go get some calamine lotion.)