As we decorate our homes for the holidays with cheery plants, evergreen boughs and berries, it is important to take into account which plants and materials might be toxic to young children and pets. Many plants can pose serious threats to the curious two year old or inquisitive dog, cat or bird.

According to Botanic Gardens Conservation International, there are approximately 400,000 known species of plants inhabiting the earth. Of these, only about 700 species found in this hemisphere are know to cause loss of life or serious illness in man or animals. The toxicity of many new, exotic houseplants and garden plants is not as of yet known. Also be aware that even ‘safe’ plants may cause problems as the plant or soil may be contaminated with pesticides and/or growth regulators. If your household contains young children or curious pets, you may want to consider purchasing plants from an organic grower or placing them out of reach.

Not all plants listed on poisonous plant lists are fatal. Plants are labeled as poisonous if they cause any kind of problem to humans, farm animals or pets. Some are extremely toxic. For example, two oleander leaves will prove fatal to an adult. Other plants may just cause minor skin irritations.Most toxic plants are bitter to the taste or irritate the mouth so generally the animal or person stops eating or chewing on it long before enough is consumed to cause any toxic effects.

Let us look at some common holiday plant materials and their toxicity. First, let me dismiss the rumor concerning poinsettias. They are not the deadly plants they have been made out to be. However, they do contain a white, latex-like sap. Some people are allergic to this sap and a contact dermatitis may result. If eaten, they may cause injury to the digestive track.

Christmas Confetti Poinsettia bred by Bob Shabot, UConn

Christmas Confetti Poinsettia bred by Bob Shabot, UConn

Holiday cacti and Norfolk Island pines are nontoxic. Ornamental pepper plants with their tiny, bright colored fruits are not poisonous but, wow, are they hot!

Christmas cactus at UConn Floriculture Greenhouse

Christmas cactus at UConn Floriculture Greenhouse

Some of the more toxic plants include amaryllis with its gorgeous, trumpet-shaped blooms, azaleas and Jerusalem cherries. The bright orange fruits of the Jerusalem cherry are especially alluring to small children. The English ivy (Hedera helix) used sometimes in indoor arrangements and topiaries contains saponins. These produce a burning sensation in the throat and may cause severe abdominal pain.

Lovely trumpet blooms of amaryllis

Lovely trumpet blooms of amaryllis

Evergreens are also often used in arrangements, for wreaths and swags, and as roping. Branches from yews, laurel, holly and boxwood are extremely toxic. (Why yews don’t at least give the deer feeding on them a stomach ache remains a mystery to me.) The Delaware Indians used laurel leaves in preparing a suicide tea. The shiny holly berries may prove attractive and sicken children. Mistletoe is also extremely poisonous and should not be used where children or pets may access it.

Mistletoe from flowers.org.uk

Mistletoe from flowers.org.uk

If you have a question about whether a plant is poisonous or not, call the UCONN Home and Garden Education Center at (860) 486-6271, visit us on the web at www.ladybug.uconn.edu, or contact your local Cooperative Extension Office. Information about the toxicity of plants as well as other substances is available by calling the National Poison Hotline at (800) 222-1222 which is open 24/7. Here’s to a safe and healthy holiday season!

Dawn P.

Pest - Colorado Potato Beetle Adult, www.uwm.edu

Pest – Colorado Potato Beetle Adult, http://www.uwm.edu

Colorado potato beetle larvae, www.agriculture.purdue.edu larvae

Pest – Colorado potato beetle larvae, http://www.agriculture.purdue.edu larvae

Beetles are fascinating insects with a wide variety of colorful families and species. Some are beneficial, feeding on other insect, while other species are just plain pests. All beetles are in the order Coleoptera. Common among all adult beetles are two pair of wings, with front wings being thickened and leathery that completely cover the membranous hind wings. Adults have large compound eyes and chewing mouth parts.

Beneficial Predator as Adult - Eyed click beetle Photo by Pamm Cooper

Beneficial Predator as Adult – Eyed click beetle Photo by Pamm Cooper

Pest - Wireworms, maine.gov

Pest – Wireworms, maine.gov

 

Beetles have complete metamorphosis containing four life stages; egg, larva, pupa and adult beetle. Larvae have chewing mouth parts, and simple eyes which detect light, dark and movement, but cannot see as well as adult stage with the compound eyes. Different species of beetles differ in larval form. Some are c-shaped grubs with six legs, and others are wireworms with no legs. The common grubs found in the lawns will develop into beetles.

Pest - Japanese Beetle umass.edu

Pest – Japanese Beetle umass.edu

Pest - Japanese Beetle Adult

Pest – Japanese Beetle Adult

Control of all beetles can be achieved by hand picking adults and larval stages. Grubs in turfgrass are treated when grubs are newly hatched during the end of May through July by using Imidacloprid or Chlorotraniliprole as the active ingredient. Parasitic nematodes can be applied to lawns to infect the grubs, eating their insides so they never develop into adult beetles. Milky spore is a bacterial disease that affects only Japanese beetle grubs, although it has limited efficacy here in Connecticut.

In the vegetable garden, monitor known host plants by turning over leaves to look for eggs to crush them by hand. Insecticidal soap sprayed directly on any larvae will kill them by suffocation. Spinosad is an organic insecticide that will kill larval stages, too. Monitor for natural predators that would keep the pest population under control. Using broad spectrum insecticides will kill the good guys as well as the pests.

Carabid beetle Lebia grandis are voracious predators of Colorado potato beetle eggs and larvae. photo by Peggy Greb, extension.psu.edu

Carabid beetle Lebia grandis are voracious predators of Colorado potato beetle eggs and larvae. photo by Peggy Greb, extension.psu.edu

Colorado Potato Beetle Eggs, umass.edu

Colorado Potato Beetle Eggs, umass.edu

 

-Carol Quish

 

 

 

One of the nicest things about living in Enfield is our proximity to the Scantic River in the Hazardville section of our town. We have spent many enjoyable hours walking or snowshoeing along the banks of the river.

Autumn reflections, SAPelton photo

Autumn reflections, SAPelton photo

The Scantic River runs through an area known as Powder Hollow, so named because Loomis, Denslow and Company produced gunpowder, saltpeter, sulfur and charcoal there. In 1837 Colonel Augustus Hazard bought into the company and was instrumental in building it into a major producer of gunpowder. At its peak there were 125 buildings spread over one and a half miles along the river and among these were twenty-five water-powered wheels, three hydraulic presses and three steam engines. From 1843 to 1876 the Hazard Powder Company provided gunpowder for many endeavors including the war with Mexico in 1846, the 1849 Gold Rush, the 1854 Crimean War (where they supplied both Britain and Russia with gunpowder), and to the Union forces during the American Civil War. After the Civil War the demand for gunpowder declined and the business began to fail. There were many explosions over the years and in 1871 much of the plant was destroyed. There are still several sites along the river where the old stone foundations and blast walls can still be seen. The former horse barn on South Maple Street is still in use today as a venue for special events.

Remaining foundations, SAPelton photo

Remaining foundations, SAPelton photo

Today, The Scantic River State Park runs through Enfield, East Windsor, and Somers with many areas that are suitable for hiking, fishing, canoeing or kayaking. Each season brings new ways to enjoy the outdoors. Every spring the Scantic Spring Splash canoe and kayak race is held. People come from all over the East Coast to participate in this fun event.

Spring conditions on the Scantic River. SAPelton photo.

Spring conditions on the Scantic River. SAPelton photo.

Late March is also a great time to walk along the river as the ice breaks up and the river flows quickly by. There are many places were beaver lodges and dams can be seen as well as trees that have been felled by these natural engineers. New plants are emerging and fern and skunk cabbage abound. I always think that the brownish-purple spathe of the newly emerging skunk cabbage looks as if it was transported from an alien planet.

A skunk cabbage spathe. SAPelton photo

A skunk cabbage spathe. SAPelton photo

Turkey Tail fungus (Trametes versicolor) growing on a stump. SAPelton photo.

Turkey Tail fungus (Trametes versicolor) growing on a stump. SAPelton photo.

An October hike is an adventure for the both the eyes and the ears as all the shades of autumn in New England are overhead and underfoot. The remaining stone foundations of the Hazard Powder Company become prominent as the foliage drops. Our children always loved to climb around the ruins during these walks.

Autumn colors frame the river. SAPelton photo

Autumn colors frame the river. SAPelton photo

In January or February a good snowfall followed by a 40 degree day provides the perfect setting to set out on snowshoes. The sun reflecting off of the ice and snow on the river is a beautiful sight and it is so quiet and peaceful. The Scantic River is a one of those wonderful gifts that nature offers to us and I highly recommend a visit to see it any time of the year.

A stop along the Scantic River. SAPelton Photo

A stop along the Scantic River. SAPelton Photo

The beauty of winter along the Scantic River. SAPelton photo.

The beauty of winter along the Scantic River. SAPelton photo.

Susan Pelton

 

 

A new and potentially damaging invasive insect has been confirmed in Pennsylvania. The spotted lanternfly, a species of plant hopper (Lycorma delicatula), is native to parts of Asia including China, India, Vietnam and other parts of eastern Asia. It is an invasive pest in Korea where it was introduced in 2006 and causes damage to many plants that also occur in the northeastern United States. Hosts include grape, fruit trees, pines and hardwood trees. The initial identification of the insect occurred on September 22, 2014 by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Currently, there is a quarantine regulating movement of materials that could harbor the insect out of the local area where it was found and survey work is being done to determine the extent of the infestation.

Adult spotted lanternfly at rest.  L. Barringer, PA Dept. of Agric.

Adult spotted lanternfly at rest. L. Barringer, PA Dept. of Agric.

Forewings and hindwings of an adult. H. Raguza, PA Dept. of Agric.

Forewings and hindwings of an adult. H. Raguza, PA Dept. of Agric.

In spite of its potential to be a problem this insect is quite striking and beautiful. The adult at rest holds its wings in a somewhat vertical position. The head is black and the outer wings are grayish with black spots near the body and the outer portion has a pattern of black rectangular blocks with gray outlines (see photo). The hind wings are red with black spots near the body and black and white as shown.   The overwintering stage is the egg. Eggs are laid on smooth-barked trees or smooth vertical surfaces. The invasive tree Ailanthus altissima (tree-of-heaven) is favored for fall feeding and egg-laying. Egg masses contain 30-50 eggs and are laid in masses from late September until winter weather begins. Egg masses have a gray waxy coating over them (photo).

Egg masses on tree bark. H. Razuga, PA Dept. of Agric.

Egg masses on tree bark. H. Razuga, PA Dept. of Agric.

First stage nymphs (left) and later stage with red areas. Park etal. photo

First stage nymphs (left) and later stage with red areas. Park etal. photo

Nymphs hatch beginning in late April and initially feed on small woody and non-woody plants and vines. Hatchlings are initially black with white spots. As they mature, red patches develop. Nymphs move to various tree hosts as the season progresses by crawling and movement of infested plant material or debris. Adults disperse some by flying and they are strong jumpers. In the fall, they move primarily to the preferred host, tree-of-heaven for feeding and egg-laying.

Nymph and adult feeding on trees can be susceptible to significant damage and even death when attacked by a large population of this pest. Weeping wounds may appear on the trunk. A large population can produce accumulations of honeydew at the base of infested trees and fungi may grow on this and produce large fungal mats. Wasps, bees, hornets and ants may be attracted to the sweet honeydew.

Because of the proximity of Connecticut to Pennsylvania, it’s important for state residents to be aware of this pest and have it identified if found. Here’s what to do if you think you’ve found eggs, numphs or adults (from the PA fact sheet):

Eggs: Scrape them off the tree or surface into alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them. Place in a sealed plastic bag or container.

Nymphs or adults: preserve in alcohol or hand sanitizer in a crush proof container such as a vial.

Contact the UConn Home & Garden Education Center at 877-486-6271 or ladybug@uconn.edu or the UConn Plant Diagnostic Laboratory at 860-486-6740 or joan.allen@uconn.edu or the entomology department at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station about sending in a sample. You may also submit digital photos to the email addresses above to see if it’s a suspect that should be identified.

 

sunset henry Park Fall 2012

Sunset at Henry Park, Vernon, Ct. in October 2013

Reflected light, Iridescence, and refracted light  ( interference ) are ways in which colors are made visible to the eye. Creatures only see light in the wavelengths visible to their unique eye structure. A rainbow represents the light spectrum which results from the sun striking raindrops ( or other prisms such as quartz ) and having its wavelengths bent, or refracted so that colors are made visible. These are the colors the human eye can see. There are more colors- such as ultraviolet or infrared which are only visible to creatures possessing eyes that are able to see these colors. Bees and some other insects see ultraviolet and are attracted to certain flowers by ultraviolet “ nectar guides” which lead the insect into the flowers far enough to ensure pollen pick- up or transference. Nature, of which we are a part, is full of the effects of sunlight striking objects and the colors that result are formed by what happens afterwards.

Light travels in a straight line  until it strikes something. When light hits an object it gets reflected, or bounced off, in different directions. Colors occur because light, composed of a broad spectrum of wavelengths will reflect and scatter differently after striking different objects. Some substances absorb certain wavelengths while the rest are then scattered.

One of  the effects of light scattering through the atmosphere has given rise to the saying “ red sky at night, sailor’s delight, red sky in morning, sailors take warning.” This is because weather systems generally move from west to east in the middle latitudes because the prevailing winds are westerlies. As rays of sunlight are pass through the atmosphere, they split into colors of the spectrum as they ricochet off water vapor and dust particles. The amounts of these particles determine what colors we see in the sky, and they can be useful  indicators as to weather conditions.

If we see a red sky at night, it implies the setting sun in the west is shining on clouds or particles of dust and water vapor  to the east and atmospheric conditions to the west are clear ( or else you would not see the sun setting ). The sky appears redder if you can actually see the sun setting. As the sun still shines from the west, clouds that have broken up and moved east are still being shined upon by the setting sun, even after both the clouds and the sun may have disappeared from sight. Red light still breaks through the atmosphere while the shorter wavelengths will scatter and break up. Usually this indicates high pressure with its stable air is coming from the west and fair weather should follow.

Red sky in the morning often indicates that a high pressure system has passed through and a low pressure system storm system may be moving in from the west. If the color of a morning sky is a deep, blazing red, it can indicate high water content exists in the atmosphere and rain may be on the way.

9-24-14 6 38 a.m.

September Dawn

Another way we see colors is through light reflected off pigments of objects. Grass appears green because chlorophyll in cells absorbs all colors except green, which is reflected as the sun’s rays hit the leaf surfaces. Amounts of chlorophyll in different species of plants are different and produce deeper, darker or lighter greens accordingly.  Pigments are colors that last and are not affected by turning an object at different angles. Colors are produced by the selective absorption and reflection of specific light wavelengths. A green caterpillar looks green at all times if struck by light because certain wavelengths of light are absorbed, while green wavelengths are reflected and made visible to an observer. Usually only the outermost cells of an organism have pigments which produce the constant colors of species.

In contrast to colors produced by pigments, structural colors are created by the physical interaction of light with the intrinsic characteristics of structures within an organism. Iridescence is a type of structural color that is especially found in certain beetles and butterflies. Incoming light strikes many layers of plates or scales which results in multiple instances of constructive interference where light is reflected many times and produces vibrant and intense colors. Metallic colors in some beetles, such as Bupestrids and some Cicindela and others , plus the iridescence colors of many butterflies are the result of structural interference of incoming light. These insects also have pigments that produce constant colors. But light interference produces colors that can change as the viewpoint of the observer or the insect changes. Or if the butterfly or beetle move into a shaded area, or it gets cloudy, iridescence is affected temporarily. This can make photographing insects exhibiting structural colors a vexing enterprise, frequently requiring patience and a lot of moving around as the insect moves to areas of different lighting. Full sun produces the most striking and clear colors and edges, so sunny days are optimal for seeing the best iridescent colors.

 

Hologram moth with green patches

Hologram moth with green patches

patches now appear yellow as light source angle and viewpoint change

patches now appear yellow as light source angle and viewpoint change

6-Spotted tiger beetle showing metallic iridescent green

6-Spotted tiger beetle showing metallic iridescent green

 

Some plants have brilliant, shiny fruits that have  an inner geometry of films and pockets that make for an aesthetically pleasing color that can last sometimes for many months, Winterberry maintains its bright red coloration throughout the winter, making it a vibrant contrast to white snow that may stick to its branches. It is highly visible to any wildlife that may need its fruits for survival.

Birds have feathers than produce colors both by pigments or by light refraction caused by the structure of the feathers. Feather color may be the result of either or both. The throat of the male Ruby- throated hummingbird refracts light like a prism which results from the structure of the feathers splitting light into the rich ruby color. Depending on the angle of the viewer, the throat can appear black  or an iridescent ruby red. Sometimes tiny air pockets in the barbs of feathers will scatter incoming light that produces a blue color, like that of a blue jay or indigo bunting. Backlight the same feathers, and they look brown because of melanin in the feathers.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, a mere reflection and consideration of how  color is produced in nature. We can all be backyard scientists if we slow down and observe our natural surroundings, of which color just one primary part of the composition. Even in the winter gloom, there are vibrant sunsets and other splashes of heartening colors in the landscape that can cheer us up, if just for a moment.

Pamm Cooper                                                all pictures copyright 2014 by Pamm Cooper

Last week I was fortunate to attend the 2014 International Annual Meeting of the American Society of Agronomy (ASA), the Crop Science Society of America (CSSA) and the Soil Science Society of America (SSSA) in Long Beach, California. The theme of this year’s meeting is ‘Grand Challenges, Great Solutions’. Most of the days are spent listening to 15 minute presentations or viewing research-based posters on a variety of topics ranging from adaptive nutrient management to zinc and everything in between.

Hollywood sign from Griffiths Park Observatory

Hollywood sign from Griffiths Park Observatory

One of the best parts of these conferences is being able to go on field trips to a variety of destinations depending on where the conference is held. Last Sunday was the Urban Soils, Agriculture and Brownfields of the Los Angeles Basin tour. The day-long tour started out at the Griffith Park Observatory at the base of the Santa Monica Mountains. Most readers will recognize the iconic Hollywood sign in the distance but the true high point of this stop was examining some of the granitic saprolite (rotting bedrock) that was the parent materials of the soils in the southeastern part of the park. The soils were very light in color and sandy and vegetation on them was somewhat sparse especially on slopes. Trees damaged by forest fires a few years prior to our visit were also pointed out.

Granitic soils at Griffith Park

Granitic soils at Griffith Park

Next stop was the Taylor Yard Brownsfield and reclamation project. Taylor Yard is a 247 acre former railroad site that has about 2 miles of frontage on the Los Angeles River. This is very special as it is the largest undeveloped piece of land along this river. A group of citizens, spearheaded by Melanie Winters, for the River Project and has been advocating and fighting for the creation of an urban park for passive and active recreation uses as well as ecosystem recreation and stormwater detention. While the purchase of a final 44 acre parcel is still in the works, this area now supplies city residents with ball fields and nature trails.

Melanie Winters of the River Project

Melanie Winters of the River Project

At Echo Park, we got to see an Anthraltic Xerorthent. Soil scientists classify soil by their defined properties in a manner similar to how botanists classify plants or zoologists, animals. What this basically tells us is that it is a young, well-drained soil developed in human transported material without a lot of subsoil development yet. Some of the neighbors joined our group to hear our NRCS guide describe the soil to us.

Randy Riddle of the NRCS showing us an anthraltic xerorthent

Randy Riddle of the NRCS showing us an anthraltic xerorthent

La Brea Tar pits was really quite fascinating and I wish we could have spent more time there. It is really hard to fathom that we are able to view bones from creatures that existed up to 40,000 years ago.

The bones of many animals are glued together in this tar. Scientists carefully separate them out bit by bit.

The bones of many animals are glued together in this tar. Scientists carefully separate them out bit by bit.

Animals were attracted to the thin layer of water on top of the sticky tar. Once they went over to take a drink, they were trapped in the tar and either died of hunger or thirst or became dinner for carnivores who in turn also became trapped,  and died.

The tar pits are covered by a shallow layer of water that attracts animals even to this day.

The tar pits are covered by a shallow layer of water that attracts animals even to this day.

Last stop was Ocean View Farms, the largest community garden in Los Angeles County. It was established in 1977 and sits on a hillside overlooking Santa Monica Bay. There are over 500 plots and they have quite a long waiting list. The gardens varied considerably in their contents – from vegetables and herbs to roses and other ornamentals. Fruit trees are also planted and the harvest is shared.

Their composting system was most impressive. Garden trimmings and debris get put in a large pile, except for a couple of noxious weeds which get sorted into a trash container. Then, on Saturdays, dedicated volunteers come and put the trimmings through a shredder and into a large pallet bin. The trimmings are layered with horse manure from a neighboring stable. The compost is turned by hand and when it ends up in the finished bin, it is first come, first serve for the gardeners.

Composting system at Ocean View Farms

Composting system at Ocean View Farms

Long Beach is really beautiful and the days were warm and sunny. I couldn’t wait to get back to the East Coast, however. There are just way too many overly pruned plants out  there! Plants are not meant to be square!

One of the many square plants

One of the many square plants

Soils rule!

Dawn P.

Lots of squash and pumpkins, P.Cooper photo

Lots of squash and pumpkins, P.Cooper photo

The farm stands and farmer’s markets have been abundantly overflowing with multiple varieties of winter squashes and pumpkins this year. Was it the beautiful and colorful fall that lingered unceasingly this year that made me want to get out and visit many produce places, or was it the autumn recipes and foods which included pumpkin everything that sent me seeking different types? I don’t care, just glad I took some time to ‘go squashing’ with a friend. I like this new verb phrase. We went in search of a cornucopia of different varieties, hoping to find a new favorite and quite possibly a new addition for next year’s vegetable garden.

Honey Nut Butternut Squash, A new find! P.Cooper photo

Honey Nut Butternut Squash, A new find! P.Cooper photo

We did find a new squash we love! Honeynut Butternut, (Cucurbita moschata), is a mini squash,  developed by the Plant Breeding and Genetics department at Cornell University.  Honeynut squash is a combination of butternut and buttercup squash types. It is only about one to one and half pounds, dark tan and adorable. The inside is darker orange than standard butternut and a bit denser and sweeter like a buttercup squash. Being smaller in size, it bakes more quickly than a larger three-pound butternut. It is still a butternut, which the squash vine borer pest avoids, which is good news for me. I will be growing this variety next year. Seed is available through Harris, Rene’s Garden and High Mowing seed catalogs and online. Probably other companies will be selling this wonderful squash also.

Peanut Pumpkin aka Galeux d’Eysines. P.Cooper photo

Peanut Pumpkin aka Galeux d’Eysines. P.Cooper photo

Another unusual find was the Peanut Pumpkin. (Cucurbita maxima “Galeux d’Eysine”).  It was developed in France in the Eysine region during the 19th century. The peanut looking growths on the outside skin are formed from hardened sugars that weep out of the skin. It is very decorative and is very edible with a rich pumpkin flavor. The more warts on the outside, the sweet the flesh will be on the inside.

Blue Hubbard and Waltham Butternut. P.Cooper photo

Blue Hubbard and Waltham Butternut. P.Cooper photo

Blue Hubbard Squash,(C. maxima)  is an odd, large shape and uncharacteristic grey color. They are best baked in the oven, as they tend to be watery when peeled and boiled. They are hard to cut open, even dangerous to attempt. We heard the best way to open them is to drop out of the car onto a driveway and they split right into pieces. The person passing on this tidbit of advice didn’t plan it that way, but it works. Blue Hubbard plants are highly attractive to the pest cucumber beetle. The plants have been used as a perimeter trap crop surrounding the field or cash crop of other species of squash. When the cucumber beetles fly into a field of  squash, they will stop at the blue hubbard first for a glorious feast. The farmer or grower can then spray only the blue hubbard to kill the cucumber beetle since almost all will be feeding there, and keep the other squash inside the perimeter beetle free. The blue hubbard squash was not intended to be harvested, only used as a sacrifice crop. Blue Hubbard plants are fast growing and strong, quickly replacing any leaves damaged by the cucumber beetle’s feeding. I am glad some farmers grow blue hubbard as the intended crop and do harvest their fruits. Perhaps these farmers do not have many cucumber beetles in their fields. Lucky them!

Acorn and Butternut Squash, P.Cooper photo

Acorn and Butternut Squash, P.Cooper photo

Traditional and commonly found Butternut(Cucurbita moschata) and Acorn (Cucurbita pepo var. turbinata), squashes are ripe and plentiful. A great starchy vegetable filled with vitamin A. Acorn squashes are perfect vessels for filling with sausage stuffing or grain mixtures.

Spaghetti and Buttercup Squash. P.Cooper photo

Spaghetti and Buttercup Squash. P.Cooper photo

Spaghetti squash is a thin-skinned winter squash with flesh the pulls apart into strands resembling spaghetti once it is cooked. Microwave or bake, then top with favorite sauce or seasoning. The taste is rather bland, reminiscent of zucchini to me, but a good base to carry other flavors. It is not a great storage squash, but easy to grow.

squash 2014

Baked Winter Squash. Photo P.Cooper

Have a squash tasting party to share your finds and new recipes tried. Perfect way to celebrate the fall.

-Carol Quish

 

 

 

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