Greener BeeGreen TipsSow There! Green mysteries, travel plans and tips for crookneck squash – Chico Enterprise


Rubber chickens might be useful in helping to spread pollen on crookneck squash, if only by lending moral support.

Rubber chickens might be useful in helping to spread pollen on crookneck squash, if only by lending moral support.
Heather Hacking — Enterprise-Record



I wish skin cream had the same power to rejuvenate that water has to transform a lawn.

During the drought years I watered my lawn once a week, and sparingly. I don’t know if I was even hopeful that the grass would live. It’s certainly not a pristine area, but its good enough for a few lawn chairs and a place to park the raised garden bed.

Honestly, I let dandelions grow because I appreciate their cheery yellow flowers and will occasionally pick some leaves to toss into a salad. (See dandelion nutritional value here: http://tinyurl.com/l9m86gd).

I’m not proud that I have a lawn, even a tattered lawn. If I had done the right thing during the drought years, I would have called Sutherland’s and had two loads of smooth river rock dumped from my back door to street. However, then I would have nothing to complain about for this week’s column.

The fact is, the lawn survived on nearly nothing, and has even bounced back.

Strong survive

Most lawn seed is a mix of different grasses. If you have a lawn like mine, you’ll notice that certain types of grasses survive in the shade under the tree. Other grasses clump in the full sun. Bermuda grass grows wherever it wants.

Last weekend I was watering the spinach and kale in the raised bed. Instead of letting the shut-off nozzle do its job, I decided to squirt a patch of tawny-colored lawn stubble as I walked. After giving the grape vine a drink, I turned back around and I swear the brown grass had started to turn a pale green.

Did gnomes sneak around behind my back with cans of green spray paint? I could have spent more time experimenting with the hose and slight changes in hue, but I’m hoping it rains this week. Plus, I don’t really want the lawn to grow because then I’ll need to mow it.

I’m sure there is some scientific principal at work. Does adding a little bit of water suddenly “wake up” the dormant chlorophyll in the grass, which starts the absorption of blue and red light, quickly transmitting only green light waves to our visible eye? I can imagine the sound of the chlorophyll gulping water — a sound similar to sucking down that last inch of slurpie on a hot day.

One plan/plant at a time

This summer I’m planning to travel for several weeks. In fact, I’ll soon be wrapping up my job at the newspaper after 25 years. I’m grateful that the Bossman has said I can continue to write this column because I have many more things to say about gardening and life in general.

For this summer, the plan is to leave the country, unload some mental baggage and prepare myself for the year-long elementary school teaching credential program, which begins in the fall.

For now, it seems silly that I keep buying vegetable plants almost every time I visit the farmers market. Angela Handy sells plants Thursday nights on Third Street, and its rude not to stop by and say hi. One thing leads to another, and soon I’m walking away with a new crookneck or dill plant. Angela hands out free advice to anyone who plunks down two bucks for a seedling.

Her recent advice was “it’s two bucks. Won’t you enjoy it for a while even if it dies while you’re on vacation?”

I’ll have a friend watching the house and the Feline Unit. That means there will be someone to harvest too many zucchini when the veggies arrive all at once in July.

Who knows?

Crookneck tips

Crookneck squash, I have learned, can benefit from a little human intervention.

If you look closely, you’ll see two different types of flowers. The male flower has a single protrusion in the center — the stamen. If you scratch the stamen you’ll get a bit of pollen on your finger. Next, you find a flower that has a stigma. This is shaped differently and is a female flower. If you add the pollen to the stigma, you should soon get a squash.

In years past I have become frustrated when the male flowers and the female flowers are not open on the same day. You can even tear off the stamen, gently peel open the female flower from the day before, and spread the pollen on yesterday’s stigma.

So far so good. I have one, itty-bitty yellow crookneck. Maybe I can eat it before I leave the country.

For more about squash procreation: http://tinyurl.com/ml38h4k.

Contact reporter Heather Hacking at 896-7758.


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