I feel like I just returned from a treasure hunt adventure in the jungle. What I actually experienced was a trip to my little overgrown garden in the back yard. My love of fresh vegetables is much larger that the size of my garden, so by the time the summer squash take over, I have to duck and twist my way through tomato and squash vines to get to the few bean plants.

I’m not an expert gardener yet, but I’d like to be. This growing season, I’ve been using an online resource that has been helpful from the planning stage all the way through harvesting and even cooking. I consulted it several times when pests invaded my plants. The University of Illinois Extension has been invaluable. In particular, I’ve been using this vegetable directory. Clicking on summer squash, I can read about varieties, when and how to plant and harvest, common pests and problems, nutritional and health benefits, preparing and preserving, and even find some recipes to try. Did you know that squash blossoms are edible? That was news to me!

It’s almost time to start planning next year’s garden so I’ve been looking through the books on the shelves here at the Westmont Library to help me make the most of my limited available space.

Small Plot, Big Harvest by Lucy Halsall is my favorite. In it, I’ve found some tips for controlling my squash plants next year. Also, I’ve discovered some ideas for using hanging baskets and containers for food crops. Several detailed plans are included for a 10x10ft square plot with tips and tricks for getting the best possible harvest. The book is aimed at beginners, but is a useful resource for anyone.

Next, I’ll have to check out the cookbooks to find more recipes for my fresh produce!

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