Cold winter

Long time reader and in-town homesteader. We have been through the dryest gardening season we have had in our 40 years of marriage. Still managed to get our winter supply of food canned up. Lots of pumping water and mulching. Last fall you said the beavers were indicating an open winter. Bingo. The beavers knew what was ahead. What do you see in the animals this fall that would indicate our winter? It is so great to read your blog. For years we have felt like we were the only people to look to the garden for our food. My husband and I do it together. It is great to have a mate to work together and enjoy the garden with. Glad you found Will.

J & L in Iowa

The animals and other nature signs point to an early and heavy snow and a cold winter. So we’re trying to get ready … just in case. I’d thought the beavers had lied to us when they added extra material to their dam. I said they indicated a hot, dry summer. Then we got rain this spring and I thought they’d lied. Not so. Right now, and during the last month or more, we’ve been in severe drought and the temps all summer were record-setting highs. The beavers were right!

Yes, it IS great to have a like-minded mate working with you toward the same goals. It makes life so much more enjoyable! — Jackie

Hopi Pale Grey squash and turmeric in pickles

I have a couple of questions. First I saw some of your presentation in Colorado Springs CO, but because of tired and restless kids I missed part of it. I came in on a conversation about a kind of squash you raise. You were offering a man some of the seeds. I just wanted to know what kind it was. Next. I was wondering what Turmeric in pickling recipes is supposed to do besides turn everything yellow.

Holly Putnam
Trinidad, Colorado

The squash variety was Hopi Pale Grey. So far, only Seed Dreams in California and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds carry this squash. It is very rare. Turmeric not only turns foods yellow but also imparts a distinctive flavor. I wouldn’t make bread and butter pickles without it! — Jackie


  1. saw that a study in india and u. s. shows turmeric repairs telemeres- dna strand ends- and may be deterrent to alzheimer’s disease. see that store pickles use yellow food color instead. we cannot use much food color. causes terrible side effects. explains one way store pickles are no way as good as they used to be. sweet pickles used to be so good, even store bought.
    love you.
    deb harvey

  2. I guess Hopi Pale Greay are rare. Dad and I grow them most years. I have a few sandwich bags of the seed. I buy a fresh envelope each year from Baker Heirloom Seeds. Grow as good as my saved seeds. I grow at around 4,000 feet in S.W. AZ. HPG are perfect for the climate. Due to our weather I don’t plant before 15 April as it is possible to get hard frost that late. I watch the mesquite and bermuda grass. If the Mesquite haven’ leaved or the Bermuda hasn’t started greening it is too early to plant. Soil temp should be 50 degrees. Last year I started plants indoors and planted some seed directly in the soil. No difference in the long run although the garden started plants took hold faster. By Monsoon season you couldn’t tell the difference.

  3. Zelda, I live at 5000 ft above sea level. We can get a light frost any time after and or before Labor Day. We have grown 120 day winter squash the last 4 years. I do not start my seed early and have had many mature squash. I made 4 “pumpkin” pies from one of the squash last year with enough left to make a pumpkin cheese cake. I do watch the weather channnel, the National Weather Service (I listen for the forcast closest to my home as it is frequently different than the one for the closest town,) and several other weather sites to watch for suspect evenings that may make my chance of even a light frost possilbe. If we are predicted a 30 something night I go through my garden around 3-4pm and cover anything I may not want to get a light frost. I use old sheets and a couple of old painting tarps. (They help hold in the heat of the afternoon and ward off a light frost) Held up with a couple of 2×4’s to prop them up off my plants. I have saved my zquash and tomatoes for almost a month with this tactic. I have even covered pepper plants with 3 gallon plastic icecream buckets I got for free from the local icecream stand. I try every year to squeeze every last day I can from summer. I made two hoop houses this year(a little different from Jackie’s) and plan on adding 2 more next year. I can say this is the first year I have ever had a ripe cantelope or early watermelon. Gardening is one of the two most important things to our place the other most important thing is harvesting enough meat to last us a year. I hope that maybe some of these tips might help you where you are get a little longer out of your garden and maybe some mature squash.

  4. I’ve noticed that the weather, at least in my area, follows a pattern. In terms of precipitation, summer follows winter, and in term of temperature, winter mirrors summer. So, a cool summer was followed by a warm winter. A dry winter was followed by a dry summer.

    If that holds true, this winter is going to be bitterly cold!

  5. After myself and another person commented that our Hopi Pale Grey did not mature last year (I put out 2 month old plants), I did not plant them this year because of the very cold and late spring we had. My seeds came from Baker Creek. I covered my plants to keep them growing as long as possible, picked all of my squash (they were football to huge size) and kept them in a cool, dark place hoping they would ripen. I don’t think they did based on the outside color and the rind from inside, but I ate them (baked) and they were good tasting. Jacki gets a reliable crop each year in her short growing season and I think she saves seed from hers. I’m thinking that over the years she has selected seed that will mature in a short growing season because she took her seed from ripe squash. I’d like to buy some of her seed, or seed from anyone else who lives in a cold spring-short growing season-unexpected early frost area who gets ripe Hopi Pale Greys, and I wonder if there are others in the same type of climate who would. Seed Savers Exchange and Native Seeds don’t seem to have this squash. There’s an opportunity to contribute that way to its preservation in a short season version (Baker Creek has a long season version).

  6. In addition to a picture or description of a ripe Hopi squash, can you share how you cut it too. Mine are huge. Thanks for the weather report. We rely more on your beavers and animals than anyone else!!

  7. my hopi pale grey are looking good. could you please post a picture of one that is ready to be harvested so i’ll know when they are ready?i can’t wait to try them.

Comments are closed.