Seeds of Wisdom - Summer Squash

Happy Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday! Summer squash is full on this time of year! In Mendocino and Lake Counties, the harvest season tends to be July through November. Summer squash originated in the Americas and was quickly cultivated to be grown worldwide. Zucchini and other summer squash can be quite prolific in warm climates. You can usually harvest them after 60 days of planting. For best taste, harvest your zucchini and summer squash when they’re 4-8 inches long. They can grow up to three feet long, but when left to over-mature like that they lose flavor, become stringy and woody, and have hard seeds.

Summer squash has thin skin, as opposed to the winter squash which develops thick skin and thus stores well over the winter. Summer squash tends to store well in the refrigerator for only a few days. Overly cold temperatures can damage the produce, resulting in hollow pits on the squash’s skin.

Although technically a fruit as it grows from a flower, summer squashes are treated as vegetables and extremely versatile. Eat it raw or cooked, in salads, stews, egg dishes, stir-frys, grilled, spiralized as a noodle substitute, shredded in baked cookies, and tossed into smoothies. The flowers of the zucchini plant are edible too! They are quite common in French and Italian dishes and usually stuffed or fried. Something to keep in mind, however, is that the great sources of vitamin A and C in squash are reduced in the cooking process.

They are valuable sources of copper, fiber, folate, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine, vitamin A and vitamin B6. Vitamin A levels can be up to 40% of the Reference Daily Intake (RDI) and some squash offer 21% of RDI of copper.


Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday - Beets

Happy Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday! Beets are on the brain. Usually beets can be found year-round in the grocery store, and we’re certainly starting to see more at the farmers markets. In Mendocino and Lake Counties they tend to be harvested from May through December.

It is suggested that beets have been around for ages, having an important presence in ancient Greek and Roman cultures. In ancient times the roots were recognized for significant medicinal use, and the leaves were often used to dress wounds. This ancient beetroot was shaped more like a carrot, whereas the beetroot we’re used to today dates back to Europe in the 16th and 17th century. Popularity of the root vegetable grew after a few hundred years, and pickled beets became one of the most widely available vegetables after World War II.

Many countries have a classic dish made with beets and it’s no wonder why. These are truly a superfood of a vegetable. They’re rich in calcium, boron, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, vitamin C, plenty of B vitamins, and loads of phytochemicals, such as anthocyanins, betaine, carotenoids, glycine, lutein and zeaxanthin to name a few.


Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday - Strawberries

Happy Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday! Once again, our local expert strawberry grower brought in some of his strawberry bounty to share with us. Gardener Marin’s strawberries are the best we’ve ever had and learning more about the health benefits of these little fruits made them taste even better.

Strawberries are quite versatile and can be eaten raw, cooked, made into jellies or jams, etc. The leaves are also edible or can be used to make a great tea! It is important to prioritize organic strawberries however, as the Environmental Working Groups Dirty Dozen list places strawberries at the top, meaning they have the highest level of pesticide residue.
Studies have shown that strawberries can contribute to:
  • Preventing heart disease, strokes and cancer
  • Improving eye, hair and skin health
  • Boosting the immune system
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Improving metabolic health
  • Preventing allergies
  • Helping regulate mood


Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday - Plantain Herb

Happy Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday! This week we wanted to highlight a plant that often gets ignored in the garden. The wild herb plantain, which is often considered a weed, is commonly popping up around the community gardens and oftentimes taking over the pathways. It has been said that plantain was brought to Europe by Alexander the Great, and Europeans have spread it around since. Native Americans have actually referred to it as “Whiteman’s Foot” because it grew wherever white men had passed through.

As you’ve probably noticed in your own garden, plantain manages to thrive in any type of soil and full sun. I encourage you to – instead of weeding these and discarding them – eat the entire plant, roots and leaves, or use them for medicinal purposes. The leaves can be used just like spinach – salads, steamed, in soups, sautéed, oven baked chips, etc. There are a few different varieties of plantain. The Broadleaf variety is best for eating because of its bigger leaves, but other plantains can be enjoyed as well. It is best to harvest young leaves for eating so they’re not as stringy. However, the mature, stringy leaves are great for making tea or chips with an added crunch. Plantain leaves are also easy to dry and save for later use.


Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday - Nopal Cactus

After the Gardener Gathering event on Saturday, nopal cactus is on our minds. We harvested some paddles off the nopal cactus in the Village Circle Community Garden to cook up and put in the tacos. It was some folks first time trying this amazing, healthful vegetable. Nopal, also known as Nopales or Prickly Pear Cactus, originated in Mexico and Central America. Thriving in warm, dry regions, they have since spread to many parts of the southwest United States, as well as South America, the Mediterranean region and Australia. The name “nopal” came from the language of the Nahuatl people, the indigenous people of Central Mexico. It was found that historically, after removing thorns from a paddle it would be heated and put on the chest to relieve congestion. Farmers also created a bright, waterproof paint from the nopals that they used to mark property lines and borders. This cactus remains an important symbol in Mexican culture and a vital staple in their traditional cuisine. They are often canned or pickled and exported to the U.S. from Mexico. They’re also commonly used in jellies and jams. Nopals have been compared to a combination of a green pepper, green bean, and watermelon, but you’ll have to try them yourself!


Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday - Artichokes

It’s Seeds of Wisdom Wednesday! We hope you’re enjoying these posts to focus on seasonal produce and dive into the natural wisdom these crops have to offer our bodies and the ecosystems they’re a part of.

Artichokes can typically be found year-round in grocery stores, but they’re poppin’ in my garden right now so I was inspired to delve deep into their nutritional and medicinal benefits. Artichokes originated in the Mediterranean region, and are now found throughout America, Europe and Middle Eastern countries. They were commonly used in Roman and Greek medicine for stomach issues, and later become known for treating liver issues and jaundice. Nearly all commercially grown artichokes in the US are from California, so they’re certainly a crop that would be easy to explore growing in your garden if you aren’t already.


How Wildfires Affect our Gardens

As many people with hot, dry summers know, wildfires are almost a guarantee at some point. Depending on where you live you might see them in the news or even, unfortunately, in your own backyard. Whether or not you are affected directly by these events or just by some stray ash, you might wonder what is happening to your plants in the meantime!


Summer bounty

Here we are, in the middle of summer! This means sunshine, long days, a bounty of produce from our gardens. For most of us, this turns into a surplus of certain veggies, so here are some creative uses for those summer bumper crop varieties.


Try soaker hoses for your garden!

Our garden community member Steve asks:

"Have you tried underground soaker hoses?

Place the hoses 3-4 inches below the surface, before planting.
Stick twigs in the ground over the hoses and plant between the lines.
Almost no evaporation of precious water
Almost no weeds since the water is underground - no mulch [needed].

Happy plants and a happy gardener."

Check out a helpful how-to video here!

Reflections on Gardening


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