Plants in our gardens
Behind the Scenes
Each year we try a few new varieties of old favorites. This year, we are growing an heirloom variety, Tatuma (Calabacita). The seed packet referred to Tatuma as a summer squash that is best picked at about 3″. As we soon discovered, it is one of those varieties where one plant will take over your garden.
As often happens with summer squash, some were left on the plant and grew to be almost as big as a bucket. The skin was turning from a dark green to orange. I was wondering if a stray pumpkin plant had made its way into the garden.
When I tried to cut into the large squash I had, I was surprised at how tough the skin was. When I got the top cut off, it did not look like summer squash, the density was more like a pumpkin. So, I put the top back on, jabbed a few holes to let out air and put the whole thing in the microwave and cooked it until a knife went in easily. After carefully removing the seed parts, I scooped out the flesh and took a taste of it without any seasoning. The texture was like mashed potatoes. The taste like no other squash, summer or winter, it was sweeter. It was a hit with everyone who tried it at the office.
It can be served as a dessert pudding/pie filling (a hint of butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves with a few raisins, a few pecans would be great). Or use savory herbs for a side dish. We’re turning over a supply of the Tatuma squash to our resident herbalist and food expert, Rita Heikenfeld, to experiment with.
Using Google to search turned up other interesting facts about Tatuma.
- It is almost immune to the squash borer insect – a major problem in our gardens.
- Allowed to lay on the ground , the stems will send down roots every foot or so, making it more drought tolerant and allowing other parts of the plant to survive if one piece of the stem is invaded by the squash borer.
- It’s dense flesh makes it a great candidate for grilling.
- The skin is so rigid you can use it as a serving dish.
We are just beginning to explore the many ways to use this great food. We have liked it so much in the older “winter” squash stage that we still have to try it as a summer squash. It is sure to show up on the school menu next year.
The Granny’s Garden School Blog will include some of the many people who make it all possible. We are beginning with reviews written by students who got involved with our organization through a Service Learning Class at University of Cincinnati. Their professor asked them to write about their visit and reflect on what they learned.
Posted by Olumayowa Daniel
On arriving at Granny’s Garden, I thought our group was going to an office. I expected to walk through a garden but was surprised at what I was looking at when we got to “the office”. We were welcomed by granny and ushered into a “conference room”. I was sure I was in someone’s home. We needed chairs and I was told to get the one in the laundry room. I saw what is expected in a laundry room: laundry! As we sat down for the meeting, I thought out loud: “We’re in an office, a house and a garden…at the same time!” I liked the place already.
This experience reminded me of the fact that a good portion of my life will be spent on my career. I found that when life, career & dreams come together, they make something beautiful. Whether it’s a garden or a lot of smiling children (or both), there’s one word I would use to summarize it: fulfilment. What I took away from this is that career and life fulfilment ought to collide. We don’t have to and shouldn’t sacrifice one for the other. When work beings to enhance life, retirement appears to lose relevance.
Posted by David Luria
Roberta looked at me and, noting my Bearcats shirt, said, “Bearcat, come here”….I followed her to a patch of green. She asked me what I saw. If I were being honest, I could’ve said I saw some plants. All I saw was a green area with vague plant shapes. I fumbled around for an answer until she snatched some snow peas from right in front of me. I didn’t even notice them and they were right in front of my face.
During the meeting in her house, “Granny” Roberta emphasized the importance of her Garden to the kids in that it allowed them to “see with new eyes”. Although I understood what she meant on a conceptual level, it didn’t click with me until the moment that I described above. I have never personally owned a garden in my life, and that showed when I tried to pick out the snow peas. I didn’t have the experience to allow me to see with those “eyes” that she was talking about. Having Granny’s Garden gives Loveland’s children a chance to get to know plants and gardens personally and have an experience that I have yet to have. This solidifies the importance of Granny’s Garden School to me and it’s amazing that she’s giving these children the opportunity to “see with new eyes”.