About a month ago, I wrote a post about an experiment I was trying in a technique called solarizing. The object of this experiment was to find a natural way to eliminate weeds and the eggs and larvae of certain pests. If executed properly, it is supposed to pasteurize the soil and keep it fairly pest and weed free for up to five years. It failed:
I don’t think the technique itself is the problem but rather a combination of my own mistakes and an unusually wet and cool summer. Well, I guess “unusually” is probably a misnomer considering that this would actually be considered “usual” weather 25 or 30 years ago, but here we are. So, it never got hot or sunny enough for long enough to get the soil hot enough for this process to take effect. Plus, I harvested the onions and garlic about two weeks later than I should have which didn’t help matters.
However, this doesn’t mean that I’m not going to give this a shot again next year. There is one thing that is under my control to fix which is the timing. I need to make sure I harvest the garlic and onions on time next year so this process can get to work during the hottest part of the summer. The thing that isn’t under my control is the weather. Will it go back to being crazy hot and dry like it has been the last several years? Or will we have another cool and wet summer? I guess I’ll burn that bridge when I come to it.
Mrs. Butcher harvested the majority of the butternuts last week. It was easily the highest yield we’ve ever had in all the years we’ve grown these squash. That’s the good news. The bad news is that we have a ton of squash that we need to keep from going bad before we can eat them. However, this is one of the reasons why we grow butternuts rather than other types of winter squash: they will last a very long time if treated properly. Preserving butternuts is a very simple process—one that is quick enough that Mrs. Butcher had started and completed it before I even knew she was doing it, so I don’t have any pictures. But, here’s what you do:
Fill a large bowl with water and a splash of bleach. Dunk each squash in the bleach solution and wash clean with a sponge or cloth. Allow the squash to air dry, then store in a dark, cool and dry place. Periodically turn them to keep an eye out for any soft spots or growing mold, but generally speaking these should last for months.