Category: Vines

Zucchini 101

Zucchini 101

Zucchini 101Remember back in the spring, when the pictures on the vegetable seed cases looked so appetizing? You spotted the zucchini seed packets stacked tightly into display stands. How could you resist? Come fall, however, your mature plants have traveled indiscriminately all over your garden and you know you have a problem: What shall I do with all this zucchini? Neighbors and friends with no gardens immediately come to mind. What are friends for anyway?

How about learning some facts about this prolific vegetable?

  • The word zucchini comes from the Italian zucchino, meaning a small squash.
  • Less than 30 years ago it was often referred to as green Italian squash.
  • Its popularity comes largely from its versatility as an ingredient in breads and desserts.
  • The French term for zucchini is courgette, often used interchangably for yellow squash.
  • The English also refer to a variety that is slightly larger and plumper as marrow.
  • Archaeologists have traced the origins of summer squashes (in the family of curcurbita) to Mexico, dating back from 7,000 to 5,500 BCE, when they were an integral part of the ancient diet of maize, beans, and squashes. That pre-Columbian food trio is still the mainstay of the Mexican cuisine and is known today as the “three sisters.”
  • George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were squash enthusiasts who enjoyed growing them.
  • If left on the vine or bush longer, the fruit becomes enormous, the seeds larger, tougher, and sometimes inedible, and the flavor less sweet.
  • Today’s farmers are developing attractive hybrids–some are round, yellow, a combination of green and yellow, and some are even across between zucchini and the fluted patty pan squash.
  • With their high water content (more than 95 percent), zucchini squashes are very low in calories. (now that’s a bonus!)
  • Nutritionally, zucchinis offer valuable antioxidants. They also provide some beta-carotene, trace quantities of the B vitamins, folic acid, small amounts of vitamin C and calcium, and a healthy content of potassium.

zucchini clip art

To top it off, zucchinis can be eaten raw, baked, stuffed or steamed. Recipes abound on the Internet. Now you’re ready for that abundant harvest. You’ll know what you’re talking about when you distribute them to your lucky friends and neighbors!




Information taken from:

Out-of-Season Blooms

Out-of-Season Blooms

Virginia creeper on birch tree A mild September has meant that a few plants in the Chester area have been tricked into re-blooming.  Although occasional glimpses of red leaves have shown up on selected maples, most gardens are still green. One of the first plants to change colour is the Virginia Creeper, seen here winding around the trunk of  a white birch and offset by the fresh green branches of a pine. Such a scene could tempt a Sunday painter to reach for her acrylic paints and brushes.  That is, if you squint hard enough, it’s almost like looking at a  splendid splash of abstract art.

But on to the out-of-season blooms. Having enjoyed the usual array of rhododendrons and azaleas in the spring, we were pleasantly surprised to find a few of those plants setting out new blooms in the fall.  The next few images (contributed by Sandy) were taken mid to late September.

rhodo rampao
Rhododendron Ramapo
Rhododendron (variety unknown)
Actea Hillside Black Beauty
Silver Lace vine

The Kerria japonica (below),  found in another Chester garden, usually puts out its floral display in May. Although it has produced fewer blooms in September, the out-of-season  display makes a welcome bright addition to the duller colours of the spent blooms and foliage of its neighbours.

Kerria japonica

A honeysuckle vine that was a favourite source of nectar for hummingbirds all summer continues to put forth a few blossoms even though the birds have long since departed for southern climes. Adding their own dash of colour and interesting shapes at this time of year are the various fruits and seeds that appear on trees and shrubs.

Ornamental crab apples
Holly berries
Wisteria seed pods
Asclepia seed pods

The ascelpia photo is included as a nod to our previous posts devoted to Monarch butterflies and their reliance on asclepias (milkweeds).  The thousands of delicate wispy  seeds are released when the hard pod opens.  They drift away on the breeze and those that find fertile ground will be the source of new milkweeds that will nourish and provide egg-laying bases for future Monarch butterflies.

Images from a Summer Garden

Images from a Summer Garden

Having enjoyed one of the sunniest
and warmest summers on record in our
area, I felt it time to look back over
some of the pleasures to be found in and around our Chester gardens.


Perennial sweet peas are a delightful surprise every spring when they appear at the foot of a wrought-iron fence and soon send out massive tendrils and blooms that create a privacy hedge.  The yellow flowers above belong to a tall artichoke plant (a volunteer that sprang up under a cluster of lilacs). Seasoned gardeners may also spy a young goldenrod peeking out from the background.

Wisteria drapes gracefully over a pergola, providing a shady nook on a hot day.

A pale pink rose whose I.D.  tag was lost almost as soon as it was planted in June (sigh…) has produced innumerable blossoms now that it is encased in a net cage designed to foil the deer who had dined on the bush a few nights after I had planted it.  (Perhaps one of the deer also ingested the tag!) 

Of course, deer weren’t the only wildlife to appear in our gardens.  We’re home to raccoons, pheasants and foxes, as well as birds and bees. The bee below is finding nectar and pollen in a rose blossom  – the fragrant Blanc double de Coubert. 

In early summer, gardeners and tennis players alike were supervised daily by a pair of hummingbirds who liked to perch high on a weathervane where they could survey the action in all directions.  Although they drank from strategically placed feeders, they also had access to honeysuckle vines and many other natural sources.

The standard bird feeder was a busy meeting place for chickadees, goldfinches, song-sparrows and purple finches.  Larger birds,  like mourning doves, pheasants and crows, hung around the base of the stand picking up fallen seeds.   

A future project includes learning to shoot with a video camera so that I can capture scenes like the dance of the Monarch butterflies that were busy quenching their thirst on a Buddleia in full bloom.

As perennials die back, the old reliables –  annuals, such as nasturtiums and petunias  – continue to flaunt their bright colours.  But, as this newly harvested crop of peaches attests, summer is slowly but surely drawing to a close. 

newly harvested ripe peaches

summer sunset
On a positive note, the approach of autumn means the start-up of classes, clubs and workshops designed to energize us all during the cooler months ahead.  By coincidence, having recently enjoyed the presence of a large group of  beautiful “Monarchs” in our garden, we have just been advised that the first fall meeting of the Chester Garden Club will feature Roberta MacDonald,  who will give an illustrated presentation on  Monarch butterflies.  The  meeting is scheduled for September 17, 6:30 for 7:00 PM at St. Stephen’s Parish Community Centre.