Friday, September 9, 2011

wild grapes, zucchini seeds, Chinese mantis

 Wild grapes are in season right now. I wandered out and grabbed up a few pounds.
  They are significantly smaller, tend to ripen at varying stages.. and are sour. Like with many wild fruits, the seeds are significantly larger with less flesh. These are lovely when mixed with other fruit in juices and jams. While munching on them off the vine is fun, the seeds can be daunting, rather like when bits of popcorn get stuck in the back of your throat. The chickens were snaking on them as well, often jumping up like Michael Jordan with incredible "air time" to snag a few treats. 
 There are several species native to North America. With wild genetics, each one is a bit different than it's neighbor. Even if you are not pleased with the grapes these natives provide, the vines do offer more. Grafting is an option. Many are not aware that wild strains of grapes from North America saved many vineyards in Europe. Our wild types are resistant to a disease that was ravaging European cultivars. 
 If you are interested in grafting, this is a helpful link. 
 I was surprised by this massive guardian of the garden.

See her? A Chinese mantid. 4 inches my foot.. she's over 6 from her head to the end of her body.

  A beneficial invasive, imported for bug control over 100 years ago. We have a couple of these wandering about. You can see the Japanese beetle damage to the vines. Minimal damage compared to the vines that were not patrolled by my feathered friends. 

 I've pulled my first zucchini for seed saving this year. You have to let the fruit get fully ripe.. which a ripe zucchini has a hard shell and is yellow.

 This is Ronde de Nice, a small round French heirloom strain. These are great for stuffing. I like a few of these.. and let them hang out until close to Halloween. The seeds benefit from some storage time of the fruit. I'll carve a few out, save the seeds ( and roast the extras).. to be small jack-o-lanterns. 
 These are cucurbita pepo.. and many "summer" squash are as well. That means they will cross with many other garden favorites. I controlled cross pollination by picking the male flowers of the other c. pepo that were soon to bloom. They became dinner. 
 Same drying method as others. Clean off the seeds, dry them well (will snap in half when bent). They can last a decade and better in proper storage and still maintain decent viability.

 Ok.. have to run! Best to you all!


  1. I have been seeing the mantis ladies everywhere this Summer. I spied three very pregnant ones down by the outter apiary the other day. I always wonder if some poor mantis fellow lost his head when I see them .... OUCH!!!

  2. I got buzzed by one.. it was by the front door and it was night time. Rather unsettling! The chickens haven't found any yet.. but they have devoured quite a few small frogs.

  3. I saw a healthy number of mantids this summer too, but none so big as your 6" lady!

    That zucchini looks like a pumpkin! We grow the Black Eel variety. Have been for at least 5 yrs now, I keep the seeds every few years. Taking off all the male flowers is smart! Then you don't have to get up so early to make sure the bees/bugs haven't had their fun yet before you hand pollinate, then tie/close the female flower up. I've been pretty successful keeping varieties pure by adjusting planting times. Like starting a variety of lettuce a few weeks before starting another, so the flowering time is not concurrent.

  4. I have yet to stumble across wild grapes in my of these days. I enjoyed hearing your thoughts on the "wild" apples in your previous post too...we just processed a bunch into apple sauce.

  5. @ AJK.. pulling the male flowers was just what I had gotten used to because in CO the squash bees would eat right through taped blossoms. Organza bags also work (yay.. finally bridesmaid dresses can be used a second time).. and I've gone so far as planting certain ones in containers, taking it inside overnight so I could control the blooms the next day. The container thing was short lived.. lol.. bad idea when you have a bad back. Pulling the male flowers was easiest, and stuffed blossoms dipped in tempura batter and fried are yummy.

    @ Mr. H.. I hope you find some! These bitty apples will be the end of me! lol my thumb looks like a papercut torture demonstration.