Texas had a terrible winter this year. Despite losing electricity for the better part of three days, we were able to cook on the stove and provide some heat to the house with the gas fireplace. We have a water filtration system with a large reservoir that provided us drinking water when everyone else was scrounging for bottled water.  The hot tub provided water to flush the toilet when we lost water.  It was a very uncomfortable week, but we got through ok.

The good thing about such a brutal winter is that it lets you know who and what is most resilient.  It showed the three of us that we were actually well prepared for a disaster. Rhonda always makes fun of me for having such a packed (and often messy) pantry, 3 refrigerators and 2 freezers.  But all but one of those refrigerators is in the garage which was a veritable deep freeze that week, so none of our food went bad. And unlike most folks in our community, we didn’t have to stock up on anything before the freeze. We knew we had enough food to take care of ourselves.  I’m not a survivalist, but I’ve always been a foodie and always had more than enough in my home. 

Panoramic photo of the messy and overflowing pantry
Our overflowing, messy pantry that got us and our neighbor through the deep freeze of 2021.

But the yard. Oh my! The yard was devastated!  We lost four young palm trees. Everyone lost palm trees this year, even huge, mature ones. They were sliced to manageable parts and piled up on the edge of the road waiting to be hauled off on heavy trash day. So much beauty trashed by ice. A tragic loss of human life as well, but that’s another story.

When we finally cleaned up the mess left by the winter, we were able to see what was left for us to work with.  Surprisingly, I had some herbs survive the winter: parsley, english mint, tons of cilantro–well, the seeds from last year survived and sprouted into life early in spring.

I am no green thumb. In fact, I have a rule: if a plant can survive one Texas summer with me, it must be a hardy stock and I should keep it in the garden from now on. Like most of us, I’m all gung ho on gardening in the sweet, warm breezes of springtime. But come the heavy blast-furnace days of summer, I’m out of it. Or should I say in it, in the house, that is.  Just give me a cool, air-conditioned house and I’ll pretend summer doesn’t exist. I can’t do hot. No, thank you, sir. Once it gets hot out there, I’ll neglect those plants like red-headed step children. If they survive my abuse, they’re low-maintenance enough for me.

But in Texas, our winters are usually mild. So this past winter knocked us back on our hollyhocks.  The plants that were still there in the winter had survived my abuse over the summer. But as expected, not so many survived this winter.  But the herbs did well, so they definitely made the cut: I’ll be growing more of them.

Raised bed garden
Raised bed gardens

So since Rhonda and I planted the vegetables in the raised bed, and all the flowers in pots, I’ve been using the side beds for herbs and not worrying too much about planting much in them now that we’ve got the raised beds.  But I noticed the other day some kind of squash like plant coming up.  Hmmmm….I didn’t remember planting anything over there last year besides pickling cucumbers that didn’t do well. The plants were spaced about a foot apart as though someone deliberately planted them that way.  Very strange. I couldn’t imagine what they were, but the definitely weren’t cucumbers.

A few days later after discovering those mystery plants, I was cleaning a spaghetti squash.  Scraping the pulpy mess of seeds out, I wondered what I should do with them. We don’t have a proper compost pile yet, but I hate to throw them out.  Once when we lived in the country and had a big garden, we tossed our vegetable scraps out in a corner of the garden and just let nature do with it what she would.  The following year I walked out there to discover the whole corner of the garden filled with huge spaghetti squash plants that I hadn’t planted.  They volunteered to live in my garden because I’d tossed the seed out there with the rest of the vegetable scraps. I literally had bushels of spaghetti squash. I filled laundry baskets and garbage bags full of squash to give away to people.  I was amazed at how easy they were to grow, given they are not particularly cheap to purchase at the store.

So I guess I’m a little sentimental about pulpy spaghetti squash seeds–they yield surprising results all by themselves.  So I was torn about the notion of throwing those seeds into the trash when I remembered I’d had a similar dilemma in the fall last year.  I remembered laughing at myself as I dropped 3 dollops of seeds onto the surface of the soil in the side garden and  dropped handfuls of earth on each pile of pulp and seed.  Then I walked away and forgot all about it.

And now I have 3 thriving spaghetti squash plants growing in the garden. That plant is a real survivor!  Well, I guess I’ll have to make a place for it every year because it yields so generously under any conditions, apparently.

So Sunday afternoon when I remembered planting those seeds, I decided not to throw away the seeds of the squash I was cleaning. Instead, I tossed them onto a pile of fresh dirt we moved from the corner of the backyard where Rhonda is making a little flower bed.  I don’t know if they’ll yield a thing, but as a tribute to their hardiness, I had to give them a chance.

Our raised beds are doing well with a dozen yellow squashes already forming and the cantaloupes trying to climb the plastic mesh covering the beds.  The cucumbers in the corner are beginning to climb the trellis and the tomato plants are shooting up like they’re on steroids.  I know they’ll all produce plenty of bounty if they don’t get mowed down by an unexpected hail storm. But I’m keeping my eye on those true survivor squash plants over in the side bed.  I suspect I’ll be having spaghetti squash into my very old age. Now, I’d better develop some new recipes for it. 

Stay tuned and please let me know if you have any spaghetti squash recipes you’d like to share with our readers!


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