This Week At Cornercopia: Berries and Squash Bugs

We've had another busy week here at Cornercopia. Earlier this week, we saw the emergence of our first berries and fruits! There were only a couple pints so they got snapped up quick at our St. Paul farmer's market stand, but even after they were gone, most of you still asked about them. Yes, we'll try to have more next week.

Another question many of you asked was "What is a serviceberry?" 

THIS is a serviceberry!

Many of you probably have seen serviceberries growing wild around Minnesota and just didn't know what they were or know it by another name. It has a lot of them. Some of them are saskatoon, shadbush, juneberry and sugarplum. I actually had known them as sugarplums first before I knew any of the other names. If we were to be all scientific about things, this berry bush is called by the same name as it's genus: Amelanchier. No wonder we call it something different because someone is going to need to hand me a pronunciation guide for that one. The reasons behind the common names are all very interesting. Here's a portion about it from it's Wikipedia page:

"The name serviceberry comes from the similarity of the fruit to the related European Sorbus; it is also said that their flowers heralded the roads in the Appalachian mountains becoming passable, which meant that the circuit-riding preachers would be coming soon and church services would resume; also, that the ground was thawed enough to dig graves, and funeral services could be had for those who died over the winter. Juneberry refers to the fruits of certain species becoming ripe in June. The name saskatoon originated from a Cree Indian noun misâskwatômina (misāskwatōmina,misaaskwatoomina) for Amelanchier alnifolia. The city of SaskatoonSaskatchewan is named after this plant. Shadberry refers to the shad runs in certain New England streams, which generally took place about when the trees bloomed."

Pretty interesting stuff. This genus has about 20 species of shrubs and trees in the Rosaceae family and is used for it's fruits, it's foliage and shape in landscaping, and is important to several different wild animals, birds and insects. It's a very sweet berry, and I always like to describe the flavor as like a blueberry but without the tart-ness. If you want to know more about the serviceberry, I suggest checking out the Wikipedia page. 

Besides the berries, another main event this week has been battling squash bugs and squash vine borers, the nasty buggers. They've been laying eggs on our squash plants and we've had the pleasure of going around to scrape all the eggs off. Lovely. We've also been on the lookout for the adults to, well, squash (pun intended). 

Squash borers, our first enemy, lay their eggs on the stems of the squash (although we have found them in other places) and when they hatch, the larvae burrow themselves into the stem.Not so great for our squash plants. So it's much easier to kill the eggs than try to perform surgery on the poor squash vine to get the bugs out. These eggs we simply scrape off. The adults are pretty brightly colored, which helps in spotting them zooming around the squash patch. 


The second enemy are the squash bugs. Some people know them as stink bugs because they let off a gross odor when threatened. I personally think it smells like nail polish remover. Their eggs are a bit more tricky. They'll lay them in clumps on the bottom of the squash leaves and you have to make sure to pick off all of them and, unlike the sqaush borer eggs, drop them in soapy water. Yuck. 





Other than that, we've been doing lots of weeding, planting and trellising of tomatoes (they're growing like crazy!) But now we're all off to enjoy our Fourth of July weekend. We certainly hope yours is lovely as well!

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