Posts Tagged ‘Boulder Daily Camera’

Colorado Master Gardener Jackie Buratovich has gotten low tunnels down to an art in her yard.  Take a look at how she protects her plants in this video made with the Boulder Daily Camera newspaper (listen close, and you’ll hear the neighborhood children doing their best to distract the photographer).

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Now that gardening season is so close we can taste it, I’ve returned to the digital screen in a series of how-to videos, produced by the Boulder Camera, a newspaper that carries my gardening column. 

The first in this year’s series is a blatant attempt by me to distract all of you green thumbs from rushing forth into the garden and, in your enthusiasm for spring, do harm.  This happens in several ways, such as tilling soil, wet from snows, which creates clumps that dry into cement-like hardness. 

Other gardeners are starting seeds, which is fine.  Except some people are starting plants like cucumbers or summer squash, which, as a warm season vegetable, don’t get planted out until mid-May.  Giving a plant like that a 10 week head start is alarming – imagine how big they are on the 1st of August, which is ten weeks from when we direct sow them into the ground!  My zucchini is easily three-feet wide by that time.

Yes, the madness must stop, at least temporarily. 

Instead, dance between the rain showers this weekend and prune your fruit trees.  Check out how to work with cherry and peach trees in this week’s video.

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Pumpkins in throwdown, clockwise from top: Snow White, Mystique, Baby Pam, Winter Luxury, New England Pie, and Kabocha, center.

The last time I stepped into the Boulder Daily Camera, I carried in a container of fish fertilizer that ended up exploding in a miasmic stench over the newsroom floor.  The smell was overwhelming, not leaving even after mopping up, and I was pretty sure it would take a lot to make myself welcome within those walls again.

So this time, I brought pie. 

Not just any pie, but seven types of pumpkin pies, baked from different pumpkin varieties grown by local farmers.  In bringing the treats, I wasn’t just trying to win back the newspaper’s affection; my ulterior motive was to find out which pumpkin tastes the best in the custardy dessert. 

When asked by gardeners which vegetable varieties are the best to grow, I hedge my answers.  It’s not that I don’t have favorites; it’s just that flavor is subjective.  My taste buds are different from theirs.  So I usually stick to suggesting that gardeners shop the farmer’s markets, to taste fruit and vegetables until they find the ones they like.

But with so many varieties of pumpkins to choose from, how can a gardener tell if this pie is better made from one pumpkin or another?  The only way to find out was to have a pumpkin throw down.

Pitching the idea to my editor, Cindy Sutter, was easy:  she’s a food writer and curious about all things edible.  Together, we hatched a plan to gather up six different pumpkins – all touted as delicious pie types – and, using the same recipe for each, make pies for a panel made up of restaurateurs and average Joes to sample.

Local growers were eager to help, since they want to know what is best to grow for their customers.  So in mid-October I set off to pick up a few pumpkins to try.  But what started as a simple seven-squash journey turned into a Volvo full of gourds; the farmers so kind and helpful that they pressed more than one type of pumpkin into the running.  I had to unload the car under cover of darkness so my spouse couldn’t see just how full that car was with pumpkins.

Cindy and I narrowed down the field to six: 

New England Pie – came up often in searches for the definitive pie types, along with Baby Pam, listed below.  Small to medium sized, deep orange color, and perfect roundness makes it a quintessential fall squash; its flavor has long been listed as the choice for pie makers.

Baby Pam Sugar Pie – one of the Sugar Pie pumpkin clan, Baby Pam is touted as a top choice for baking.  Widely grown for market, this medium sized (four pounds) squash is strongly recommended for commercial growers due to its vigor, yield, and medium-sized fruit.

Winter Luxury – an heirloom pumpkin with delicious, smooth flesh and old fashioned flavor.  The orange skin is netted with white, giving the gourd a frosted look.  This was my entry into the taste-off; as a gardener I’m a bit disappointed in the yield of the plant.  From six vines only four pumpkins were produced, which is unacceptable if you only have a small space to grow food.   

Mystique – a small pie pumpkin with medium orange color.  According to the farmer, yields are fairly good with this type, making it attractive for market growers.  The small size – two to three pounds – makes it a perfect one-pie pumpkin.

Kabocha – a Japanese pumpkin with dark green, striped skin was tossed into the mix.  Considered one of the sweetest of the Japanese winter squashes, Kabocha offered an element of the exotic to our pie entries.

Snow White – mammoth in comparison to the smaller pie types, this white-skinned heirloom surprised me.  Cutting open the 10-pounder, the skin was deep red-orange – I had been expecting a lightly colored flesh.  Though yields are average for a pumpkin of this size (one or two per vine), you’ll get enough squash to freeze and use in baking for the rest of the winter.

As the control, Libby’s canned pumpkin was added, on the thought that it was what most people think of as pumpkin for pie.

And the winner is……?  Read the results of the throwdown in Cindy’s article in the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Sit back and enjoy tips on how to protect your plants from frost.  That is, if we ever get it – this video was produced for mid-September when Colorado starts having frost scares, but this year, Mother Nature just isn’t ready for the season to end.  Weather forecasts are showing a dip in nighttime temperatures headed our way, so if you’re not sick of the garden yet, get ready to do the frost protection two-step.  Produced by the Boulder Daily Camera.

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Despite Mother Nature’s hot flashes, eventually we’ll start getting frosty days.  Here’s a quick primer on harvesting and storing those not-yet-ripe tomatoes.  Video produced by the Boulder Daily Camera

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Learn to recognize the one organism that can’t get enough of zucchinis in this video produced by the Boulder Daily Camera:

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Want to extend your garden into fall?  Break out the popcorn and settle back: here’s this week’s video from my series for the Boulder Daily Camera

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