By Tom Seymour
I have no news to report, but on the other hand that might rank as a good thing, since no news is good news. However, there are a few items for me to comment upon, so here we go.
After harvesting my buttercup winter squash, it always seems as though there aren’t enough. Up until recently, that was no problem, since farm stands usually sold these for around one dollar each. Not so this year.
My figures don’t just come from one or two stands, either, but from a sampling of vendors from around Waldo County then up to Hampden in Penobscot County and then west to the Newport-Corinna area. In every instance, medium-to large-sized squash went for four bucks apiece. Smaller ones went for less, but these were usually either too small to bother with or else were compromised somehow.
The solution for those who love winter squash and crave it on a regular basis? Grow more. I know these squash take up lots of room, but for squash lovers, they are worth it. By the way, I allowed one “volunteer” squash to climb an apple tree this year. I got two large squash out of it and two smaller ones. And it didn’t hurt the tree a bit. In fact, it presented an interesting sight.
A friend recently mentioned that an old-timer had told her we wouldn’t have a good foliage season this year because we haven’t had the frosts needed to make the leaves change color. I’m not sure she completely believed me when I told her that temperature has little to do with leaves changing color. Instead, the change occurs because of lessening hours of daylight.
Fewer daylight hours trigger a certain response in leaves of deciduous trees such as maple, oak, poplar and birch. It causes them cease production of chlorophyll. And chlorophyll is what makes leaves green. When it is no longer present, the true colors of leaves become apparent.
Changing hours of daylight are also responsible for triggering the color change in varying hares, our wild “rabbits.” The same thing happens in spring, when daylight hours increase. Hares lose their white pelage and turn brown once again.
By the way, my friend said the person who told her that it was frost that triggered leaf change was a retired biologist and should know of whence he speaks, which leads me to think that my explanation fell upon deaf ears. Oh well.
It’s time for my annual Pa’tridge Prediction. This will last through November, when we’ll return to the Perchin’ Prediction.
Pa’tridge, or ruffed grouse, have been pretty scarce along rural roadsides lately. That doesn’t mean there are fewer birds this year, only that they are probably back in the woods. Only time will tell how the season falls out.
However, given the dense leaf cover, even those lucky enough to flush a few “biddies” will have a tough time getting a clear shot. Therefore, my prediction for the first week of bird-hunting season is that it will be tough going.
“Store your winter squash in a cool place, such as a basement.” – old-time folk wisdom. As a squash lover, I find that a basement does not make the best place for storing squash. These are typically damp, leading to untimely rot in stored squash. Much better to keep squash in a dry, even warm place. Some people store their squash under their bed and it keeps throughout the winter.