squash preserving and crop rotations
as far as preserving summer squash goes, and I know this is energy dependent but for now it’s how I prefer to save them, I shred them and freeze them, using them later in zuchhini bread mostly, though the shreds could be added to lasagna too.
Regarding crop rotation, there are whole books written on that. A rough rule is that you want to switch crop families in successive plantings, so that the pests who like cruciferous vegetables, for example, don’t find anything to eat when you plant cucurbits.
I get a lot of my crop rotation info from Four Season Harvest, by Elliot Coleman. The trick is to know the families — for example, potatoes and tomatoes are both in the solinacea family, though at first blush I wouldn’t think they’re related (their leaves do look similar, though, now that i’m growing potatoes.) Parsley and carrots are in the same apiaceae family. Asparagus is in the same family as garlick, leeks and onions. Beets, spinach and chard are in the same family. Kale’s in the brassica family, along with brussels sprouts and radishes.
There are some more crop specific interactions, for example, most every crop is happy to grow in soils that grew onions just before. Onions are in some way beneficial, as are the pea family, for its nitrogen-fixing abilities. If you want to get down to that level of crop rotation, which I don’t think I’m going to manage to plan for, with all the other learning I’m doing, you’ll probably need to read more deeply on crop rotation.
http://www.care2.com/greenliving/crop-rotation.html This site also points out that crop rotation helps by balancing out the nutrient demand on the soil — certain crops extract more of one nutrient than another (and some, like the peas, put nutrients back in).
Ants have been discussed previously, and the gist that I got was that in and of themselves they’re totally harmless, but if they’ve got their own little farming operation going (I don’ t believe all species of ants are farmers) running aphids on your crops, then you want to get rid of them, because they’ll just herd more aphids back onto your plants once you’ve sprayed their herd off with water.
On the cornstalks front… I’ll wait for others to chime in. We’re growing it this year (in a four-sisters planting — three sisters plus beebalm), I was planning to stuff them into the compost as a brown component, figuring they wouldn’t look good or decompose quickly on the bed, which is in our suburban backyard.