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Summer Squash Twister

September 15, 2013
Winter squash, summer squash and cucumbers all growing into each other

Winter squash, summer squash and cucumbers all growing into each other

I tried an experiment with summer squash this year. It is not completely valid, since I was late in getting it done, but I think it will still be worthwhile. A farmer friend told me she put out a second planting of summer squash, though she never said why. I imagined that as summer turned into fall, they bore less, and the second planting came on as the first one slowed down. So, I thought I would try it. Unfortunately, I was about six weeks later than I planned in getting the second planting seeded and out into the garden. I wasn’t sure if I would get any squash at all, getting them in so late, but the second planting is starting to produce now. I cut the first few zucchini on Friday.

The second summer squash planting, as of today, September 15

The second summer squash planting, as of today, September 15

My first planting is starting to slow down now. But, I think I discovered the real reason my friend put out that second planting: for efficiency in harvest. My summer squash has done extremely well this year. Almost all of the plants are huge and they have produced well. As they have gotten bigger, I have gotten slower in harvesting. The plants are so big, it is really difficult to get in and around them and to find the squash under the leaves. I gave them more room than I have before, thinking I would keep my pathways clear. I used to put two rows in one bed, this year, it was just one. They have still filled the bed and overflowed into the path and even into the next bed. That has left me playing summer squash Twister, as I try to step between plants without stepping on them and reaching in to cut the fruit without falling into the plants. It is a lot easier and faster to harvest when the plants are smaller. If the newer plants got to peak harvest levels sooner, I could stop harvesting from the older plants before they got too hard to work with and just harvest from the easier ones.

Efficiency in harvest is something I have been thinking about a lot this year. I am, and will be, scheming ways to improve things for next year, like getting that second second summer squash planting in on time.

A gratuitous picture of Famosa, a savoy cabbage, that will hopefully mature in time for this fall

A gratuitous picture of Famosa, a savoy cabbage, that will hopefully mature in time for this fall

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