Peak Beauty Before the Fall

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Every summer garden has it’s moment of maximum beauty–when everything you’ve planted starts to get big and lush, but before certain things become too big and are summarily demolished by pests, fungi, marauding visitors human and otherwise, drought, etc.  Here are some photos from my garden’s moment of peak beauty this year, which appears to have been July 17.

This moment of beauty was brought to you buy a surprisingly sunny month of June.  The ‘marine layer’ of high clouds/fog seems to be arriving later and staying longer–which allows the squash to grow larger before they collapse due to powdery mildew.

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The culprit: Seed Saver’s Exchange Gourd Mix

I went out strong with the squash this year…  again, due to a seed gift from my mother-in-law, who gave me an ‘Gourd Mix’ packet from Seed Savers Exchange.  These gourds are SHOCKINGLY vigorous.  I let my son plant what (I thought) was a conservative number of seeds.  Lesson learned.  Ornamental gourds (I think that’s what they are) have somehow found their way into almost every bed of my garden.

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Only when I realized the extent of their sprawl did I begin to wonder if any of them might be edible.  For advice, I turned to one of my favorite books ever, ‘The Compleat Squash” by Amy Goldman.  It has stunning pictures by Victor Schrager, which allowed me to identify many of the new squash-like residents of my garden.  Accompanying each picture is a pithy bit of information, including a note about the flesh of each specimen.  Most of the squash currently growing had the demoralizing notation “flesh: unacceptable.”  It sounds like you can eat ornamental squash if you want to, but they just don’t taste very good.  Hopefully some of the “Winter Luxury Pie” pumpkins I planted will make it through the gloom, and arrive on our table in September.

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A baby “Winter Luxury Pie” Pumpkin snuggled up against a baby honeydew melon. Too cute!!!

Anyway, this book is the best for someone who, by turn of fate, finds a lot of unidentified squash in their lives.

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