Sometimes, there really is too much of a good thing.

That is certainly the case this year with my summer squash.

My light green, saucer-shaped patty pan squashes are growing so quickly and abundantly that I can’t find enough people to give them to. There are dozens and dozens, and more to come.

These are from the patty pan plant that seeded itself in the garlic patch, then grew and grew until the bush plant is now at least 20 feet long, six feet high and at least six feet wide.

Every section is filled with patty pans. People are beginning to run the other way when I come toward them with a plastic bag full of patty pans.

Last year, we were lucky if we got two or three of them, but this is the year for winter and summer squashes and pumpkins.

The pumpkin crop will likely set a record. Pumpkins and their vines are strewn through all four rows of adjacent corn, into the separate winter squash patch, the cucumber patch and onward to the brush located about 20 feet from the edge of the garden.

Although we eat most summer squash fresh, sliced and sauteed with garlic in a little olive oil — just as we cook most fresh vegetables — it can be successfully frozen and used in vegetable soups throughout the year.

To freeze, simply cut up summer squash, such as patty pan or crookneck (which also does not have to be peeled if picked early), dip in boiling water for a couple of minutes, chill by pouring cold water over the drained squash pieces and letting them dry on paper or clean towels.

Fill freezer bags, label and date.

Preserving the bounty of corn

Also doing well from the “three sisters” (beans, corn, pumpkins) is the corn.

Despite the stalks serving as “ladders” for the pumpkin vines, lots and lots of ears are ready to eat. I planted both early and late varieties, so we will have more than enough to satisfy our fresh corn-on-the-cob desires for several weeks.

Corn can be frozen or canned. Whole ears, both in the husk and shucked, as well as kernels, can be frozen.

*To freeze in the husk, remove the silk and a layer of the outer husk. Do not blanch. Place ears in freezer bags, label and date.

*To freeze out of the husk, remove husk, remove silk and blanch ears for about 8 minutes. Drain and cool. Freeze.

If you’re canning corn, it must be pressure-canned. A hot water bath does not provide sufficient food safety for low-acid foods, such as corn and beans.

To can, remove kernels from ears. To each quart of kernels, add 2 cups boiling water.

Bring the corn and water to a boil, stirring often. Drain, retaining the liquid.

Place kernels in pint jars, along with one-half teaspoon salt per pint. Add boiling-hot cooking liquid, leaving 1 inch headroom in each jar.

Adjust lids, then bring pressure to 10 pounds and process for 55 minutes. Let gauge return to zero, remove jars and let cool before labeling and storing.

To freeze whole kernel corn, blanch the husked cobs first for about 4 minutes. Cool under cold water. Cut the kernels from the cobs. Fill bags to within a half-inch of the top, seal, label and freeze.

Still time for more

Second and third crops of lettuce, spinach, beans and a few other vegetables should be ready by now. Harvest and eat or preserve. Also, enough time remains to plant radishes and some lettuces.

Meanwhile, begin cleaning up portions of the garden that are “spent.” And continue to weed.

The summer growing season is nearly over. Still to harvest are cabbage and Brussels sprouts, carrots and beets.

The lovely, dainty Queen Anne’s lace is now curling up and drying, leaving only a few black-eyed Susans and fields of goldenrod.

As August slipped into September, the daylight hours shortened, some leaves have already started turning and the garden is looking very, very tired.

This is the time to really look at the garden and think of its simple beginnings in May, and how much good, nutritious food has been produced.

Most of all, take time to appreciate all that the magical earth has provided.

Eileen Adams has been gardening for decades. Each year is different — this is the year of the squash. She may be reached at [email protected]


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