I must again sing the praises of SketchUp, the free 3d modeling program that has been incredibly useful around the Root Simple compound. This weekend it was time to design some new raised beds and I didn’t want the usual rectangular configuration.
Our straw bale garden yielded a couple of these monsters, a squash variety called Lunga di Napoli (Long of Naples).
Here’s where you come in–what do I do with all this squash? Suggestions?
I’ve got a tip for to city bureaucrats. Bust someone for growing vegetables in their front yard and you’ll be held up for ridicule around the world.
This time it’s the city of Miami Shores’ turn to make fools of themselves for forcing Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll to tear up the front yard vegetable garden they’ve tended for 17 years. NPR has the details here. Listen to that story and you’ll get to hear an especially ridiculous grilling from a code enforcement official.
It’s absurd when city codes single out “vegetables.” Broadleaf plantain is a vegetable and anyone who has a lawn is probably growing it. Many flowers such as calendula are edible. Broccoli is a flower. I could go on.
Let’s just say that we wish Ricketts luck with her lawsuit against Miami Shores.
The straw bale garden I started this spring has been one of the most successful vegetable gardens I’ve ever planted. In fact it’s still producing well into November. Here’s what I learned from the experiment:
My future in straw bale gardening
I’ve decided to continue straw bale gardening on a smaller scale. I’m going to build some raised beds and fill them with soil, but I’m leaving room for two bales to grow nitrogen hungry crops, principally squash. I’m also planning on building a box to hold those bales so I don’t have to stake them every season.
Like most things in life it’s not an either/or proposition. You can have a conventional vegetable garden and save some space for straw bale gardening. I think the two compliment each other really well.
It’s the bees.
Squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae family, one of the most difficult vegetables to save seeds from. Cucurbitaceae have both male and female flowers and lots of wild, inedible relatives. Cross pollination is what Cucurbitaceae want to do. If you want to save seed and you take the precaution of taping up the flowers, bumblebees and solitary bees can chew their way through the tape to get at the pollen. In short it’s really easy to breed a freak Frankensquash or Frankencucumber, which can actually be toxic.