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MARTHA SEZ: Why complain about zucchini?

August 6, 2012
MARTHA ALLEN , Lake Placid News

We all know that two wrongs don't make a right, but then again, as Ma used to say in Laura Ingills Wilder's "Little House" books, there's no great loss without some small gain.

Two wrongs, constituting a great loss, in this case are the bad economic situation and the recent evidence of global warming. The small gain, as I see it from here, is the burgeoning of small farms and the re-emergance of the family garden.

Every time I look around, another neighbor is raising chickens. We don't have any zoning laws against raising chickens, but the local wild predator population works to discourage the practice. Racoons, hawks, owls, fishers, weasels, coyotes and other nocturnal marauders are gathering right now, just out of sight, behind those trees.

My friend Genny has a new chicken house that she could probably rent out during the tourist season it's so nice, but she would rather raise chickens for the eggs. I don't think any varmints are going to get into it, but you know they'll try. Her husband is threatening to raise pigs, but i think he's only bluffing, to alarm the neighbors. Every time he brings it up, Genny clearly states that no pigs will be raised on the property, just in case.

Because of the unusually hot weather we're having this summer, a lot of flowers and vegetables are early.

The ubiquitous orange day lilies started blooming about two weeks early, and now they are part of the landscape everywhere you go. Orange day lilies are profligate, prolific and proliferous. If you get on the train in Westport and ride the Amtrak rails north or south, you'll see great swatches of orange lilies out the window as you ride. They have broken free of gardens all over New York state. They bloom in yards and fields and on the edges of woods and on waste land. You'll see daylilies up close, and patches of orange in the distance; it's really beautiful.

Yes, these lilies are common as dirt, as I heard someone say, but I don't take them for granted. I love the extravagance of so much orange.

I already have green tomatoes on my vines. I think this is going to be a good tomato year. Knock on wood.

Every year is a good zucchini year.

These squash, which are best picked when they are small and tender, are often overlooked and left on the vine, where they rapidly reach a prodigious size. Right now, the vines are in flower. Soon, friends and coworkers will be trying to give you these monster vegetables-or are they fruits? Zucchini gardeners will not be easily discouraged. They will leave giant squashes in brown paper grocery bags inside your car or beside your back door. There will be times when there is really no escape.

You don't find this same eagerness to share other garden crops, like artichokes or asparagus. You won't be finding grocery bags full of raspberries waiting for you on the front seat. Zucchini is different. Special.

Zucchini plants are profligate and proliferant in squash production.

One zucchini plant is capable of feeding a family of ten, or would be, if you could get the family members to eat it. Many people will not.

Even the most zealous zucchini pusher must finally accept this, and adopt other, more roundabout methods, like zucchini bread, made with overgrown squash that are too tough to be cut with a knife, and must be grated. Zucchini bread is sweet, moist and spicy, and really not bad. The only way I can think to improve it would be to leave out the zucchini.

A little later on, when the desperation of the zucchini gardeners reaches its peak, you will be finding bags of zucchini bread, rather than the actual squash, on your doorstep.

But why do I always complain about zucchini? Besdies, it's not even ripe yet. We'll cross that cucurbit when we come to it.

And the heat isn't so bad. Remember flinching and hunching up your shoulders every time you went out the door? Remember when you had to worry about frostbite, or slipping on the ice?

I'm heading out to California for a few days to meet my new baby grand daughter. I'll see how the garden is doing when I get back.

Just so you know, along with the tomatoes, I'm growing my own zucchini this year, and it's doing well.

Have a good week.

 
 

 

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