Question: I live in Vermont and have an old established grape vine that I love. We're moving soon and I want to take the grape vine with me, but it's too big to move. Can I propagate it?
Answer: You can take your grape vine with you. The best way to get a new plant would be to take cuttings this winter. Here's how. Select a pencil thin vine from this year's growth that is free of insects and diseases. Cut a one foot long section of the vine, making sure it has at least 3 to 4 buds on it. Take multiple cuttings to ensure some take. Wrap the cuttings in a moistened paper towel, put them in a black plastic bag, and place them in a warm (80F) location for 1 to 2 weeks so the wounds can callus over. The top of the refrigerator is a good spot. When you're ready to pot them up, dip the cut end in a rooting hormone powder, such as Rootone, and stick the cuttings in a plastic pot filled with moistened soilless potting soil. Cover the cuttings and pot with a perforated clear plastic bag. Place the pots in a warm, well-lit room out of direct light. The cuttings should root over the winter and the buds will start growing in late winter and spring. By early summer you can move the plants into their permanent location outdoors.
Question: I have some butternut squash that I just harvested and cooked last night from my Santa Barbara, California garden. It had a dry texture and not much flavor. What did I do wrong?
Answer: First, make sure your butternut squash are fully mature before harvesting. They should have a deep tan skin color. Butternut squash develops the best flavor if allowed to cure for a few weeks after harvest. The squash skins will toughen and the starches in the flesh will begin turning into sugars, creating a sweeter flavor. To cure your butternut squash, place the fruits in a 70F to 80F degree room for 1 to 2 weeks, out of direct sunlight. You can then cook and enjoy the squash or store them in a 50F to 55F degree room for winter. Butternut will last up to 3 months in storage.