Coffee Share 200808: Spaghetti Squash Harvest

This is a Weekly Coffee Share Essay.
I’m part of a small group of bloggers who stay in touch and chat about blogging, writing, or just about anything else that might be of interest.
Link to This week’s full list
Link to my Story Blog:  Table of Contents.

Greetings all,

I hope you had a great week.

As we sit back to enjoy or coffee or tea, I would tell you first how pleased I was to get some great feedback on my new short fiction. It’s a complex story about redemption and forgiveness with multiple surprises and one piece of feedback was particularly striking in my reader sent me a detailed note about how it read and impacted him, sending him back to rethink how he may yet recover from injuring his children through a very hard decision he made.  His situation was delicate but I was pleased with the path of thought my story sent him down.  I also got some great feedback from other bloggers and some from this same coffee share group.  My thanks to all of you.

One of the things I love about sharing my work via a blog site is that it is very easy to improve and change an essay for any reason that suits me.  In my case, a few have recommended changes and I like what was suggested and am working through how to adjust the narrative.
If you haven’t read it yet, my story, Ayem Notthymn (a man’s name) is still available for your enjoyment and I’d love to hear your thoughts. It’s right at 3000 words but will likely grow an additional 5-700 next week.

  Here’s the link. – – – Ayem Notthymn

Next up, I was asked about the status of the great spaghetti squash effort and the request was timely as the first harvest is coming in.  In the featured photo you can see the first 8, but I actually pulled 10 for the first harvest from the crater.  They are not as big as last year’s but I estimate this set of vines will produce up to 30 fruit before the season runs out.

I have 3 patches of plants working now.

  • The Crater: I call the crater because I literally dug a deep, wide hole in our clay-rich soil in the middle of the sunniest part of the backyard because I thought these plants love lots of sun.  More on that in a moment. It started the season with 7 sprouted plants in my crater full of compost soil.

Spaghetti Squash 20200627_081257

  • The Compost Pile: Back at the compost pile, 2 more seeds “volunteered” to do their own thing again this year.  This is the way things got started last year.  This site only gets direct sun about 40% of any day.  And yes, sometimes the light only gets through in the form of focused phaser beams as allowed by the redwood trees from the hillside above.  The biggest fruit this year are coming from this plant. I count 7 almost ready to harvest.

Squash Aug -5

  • The Runt: After giving away several sprouted plants to friends, I had one straggler, a runt really of 2 more sprouts.  I planted it in a spot just behind a rock retaining wall with full sunshine but not as deep in compost soil.  I love the spot because the wall puts the plant almost a waist high for me. No bending down and thus is easy to inspect and monitor and learn more details of the life cycle of this plant.  Both sprouts started life the hard way.  The first 2 leaves to this plant are special somehow.  Bugs chewed off most of these two sprouts so they’ve struggled ever since.  the don’t grow as hearty or as fast and that one small fruit may never grow big enough to eat.  Then to add insult to injury, I’ve had to defend them from gophers. Just yesterday I trapped the second one that got too close. You can see the partially filled hole at the lower middle of the photo.  It’s man against nature in my backyard.  You think I’m kidding but those two gophers don’t.  Actually, neither of them think about anything anymore.

Squash Aug -6

But what have I learned this year over last?  Some cool stuff–that’s all.

Spaghetti squash really don’t like as much light as I thought.  Our July temps easily get into the 85-92 (F) range which combined with full sun all day is just too much.  This exposure may have cut down on both the length of each vine and the size of each fruit.

I had to act to save the fruit of the crater.  I also did not want to run out to buy a whole shade structure for a plant so I came up with a scheme that suspended a medium weight plastic tarp over most of the growth and as the sun moves from east to west covers only most of the plant, but since the shade moves, most of the plant gets direct sunlight only part of the day.  I also wanted to be easily able to remove the shade for cooler days so here’s a photo that captures most of the rig I deployed.  You can see the tarp ready, but not in use.

Squash Aug -7

You can see the two lengths of nylon parachute line running between a redwood tree and both are staked to the ground just off photo to the left. The tarp is different on both sides.  One is dark brown as seen.  Below, once flipped over, is reflective silver tone to reflect much of the light and reduce the heat of life beneath the tarp.  Here’s what it looks like flipped over, with the two legs in place.

Squash Aug -3

We have an interesting challenge to making such a structure work.  Most afternoons, when the heat is still high, we get a few hours of monster winds.  Suspended tarps are sails and, in their heart of hearts,  want to fly with the wind.  ‘This means you can’t tie things down tight and expect them to not tear loose.  So, nylon cord because it stretches,  tied to the thick middle of  2-3 inch branches so they would bend some with each breeze, lots of unused slack between each corner of the tarp so the carabiners do the work of holding the tarp in place back to one tie down point (tree or ground) and a surprising idea that worked, the legs,which are lashed to carabiners at the top with nothing, no stake or tie-down, at the ground end.

Squash Aug -4

You ought to see it when the wind whips up, those legs weigh too much to blow around much and this allows the tarp, which can only move up and down mostly, to dangle straight down so they lift off with the wind and settle down back to as you see them above when the wind stops.  It deploys in minutes and folds back down even faster. It looks wild in the wind, but it works.

I wish I’d stood this rig up earlier than I did because some of the leaves closest to the crater show clear signs of sun burn.  Plus, it’s fun to watch in the wind.

Finally, I’m really enjoying capturing photos of life in the backyard and I have two more to share. One is a hearty flower around one of our trees that I’ll bet one of you will recognize.  Please tell me/us the name.

Aug 2020 blue flower

The second is that odd form of life that lives a very less spectacular life than a flower.  It grows on rocks and various surfaces in nature, in dry sun or moist shade and if you look close, has some of the most amazing textures and patterns.  Just a bit more beauty hiding in plain sight until someone with a magnifier app on his phone snaps it up.  You might know it as Lichen.  Here’s the variety that I found on one of our wood structures back in the near permanent shade of the backyard.

Lichen

Thanks for stopping by.  I’ll be around to your Coffee Share real soon.

Blessings.


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