April is National Garden Month and time to 'gear up' for the growing season. Americans are gardening in greater numbers than ever. In 1971, 25 million households or 39% of American families raised a portion of their vegetables. According to a recent report, 49% of Americans gardened in the past 12 months.
Most Americans (30%) garden for access to fresh vegetables and second (25%) most popular reason for gardening is better-tasting, higher quality food. Gardening for fun (22%) beat saving money (15%) as a reason for gardening.
The most popular vegetable for the home gardener is by far, the tomato. It is followed by, in order, peppers, green beans, cucumbers, onions, lettuce, summer squash, carrots, radishes and in tenth place, sweet corn.
If you would like to begin gardening this year, check out your local county extension office. Gardening centers also offer a wealth of information, as do seed companies.
In honor of National Garden Month, I am pulling out something from last year's garden - winter squash. After all, gardeners can not throw anything away.
Spiced Butternut Squash Puree
1 large butternut squash, about 3 to 4 pounds
¼ cup butter
⅓ cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Pierce squash with a knife or fork. Place on a baking sheet and bake for about one hour. If squash is soft enough, cut in half to allow steam to escape. Continue cooking until squash can be easily pierced with a knife or fork.
2. Scrape seeds from cavity. Remove squash from the skin. Mash squash and add butter, brown sugar, and seasonings. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.