Squash Harvest, 2017

 

Every year we grow winter squashes of various sorts for food. I specify food rather than decoration because the output of a small plot of land in nutrients and calories from winter squashes is extremely good. They’re not only delicious (and beautiful) but are low in sodium and fat, and provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Growing them is fairly easy,although the vines have a tendency to wander and take over.

 

Like summer squashes, winter squashes hybridize and so it’s best to either grow only one variety or start them from commercially obtained seed or seedlings every year. At least, that’s the theory. We often end up with “mystery squashes.” (“Wait! I don’t remember planting that – what is it?”) Our current theories are: (a) these are truly hybrids from last year’s crops; (b) they are hybrids from the seeds that entered our garden through compost scraps. The latter used to be more true when we got vegetable trimmings from the local health food store. My husband tells me we use “cold” composting (worms) rather than the “hot” method, so seeds will survive.Boer White squash, a new variety for us.Buttercup, one of our favorites. Slightly dry, intensely sweet and flavorful flesh, keeps very well.One of our mysteries, perhaps a cross with Cinderella pumpkin, only with white lines along the ribbing.Another mystery squash, perhaps a hybrid of delicata and acorn. The shell is quite hard, as it often is with hybrids, but the flesh was delicious.The seeds will go to a friend who runs a seed-saver business.

 

 

 

This year, our garden produced about 100 lbs of winter squash. After harvest, we washed them, wiped them down with antiseptic cloths to reduce mold spores, and will “cure” them in the house for a couple of weeks before moving them out to the humidity-controlled library shed for longer-term storage.

 

We’ve already enjoyed one of the mysteries, and I’ve cut into the Boer White. In color and aroma, the flesh is like cantaloupe. The flavor is so delicate as to be barely discernible. More than that, between the thick shell, layer of green/white, and large seed cavity, there’s not all that much edible portion (unlike Cinderella, which is extremely generous). Likely we won’t grow this variety again, as we prefer more strongly flavored squashes.

The larger of our Boer Whites. The ruler is 6″ and the squash weighed about 7 lbs.

The interior of the Boer White.

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About Deborah J. Ross

I began writing professionally in 1982 as Deborah Wheeler with Jaydium and Northlight, (and the omnibus edition, Other Doorways: Early Novels), and short stories in Asimov's, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Realms of Fantasy and Star Wars: Tales from Jabba's Palace. Now under my birth name, Ross, I have written an epic fantasy trilogy, The Seven-Petaled Shield. My collection Azkhantian Tales, includes four short stories set in that world. Book View Cafe also offers my nonfiction Ink Dance: Essays on the Writing Life.
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5 Responses to Squash Harvest, 2017

  1. The less successful ones must have had some good feature, right? Otherwise they wouldn’t be kept. How do you ensure that the saved seeds are going to produce plants that are like the squash they came from? (In other words, how do you get seeds that you know will produce acorn squash?)

    • The only way to be sure is to either grow only one kind of squash (and make sure your neighbors either do the same or their plot is sufficiently distant from yours to reduce cross-pollination) or to buy new seed each year.

      The saved seeds should be the hybrid, but with squashes you never can tell.

      Deborah

  2. What a beautiful, beautiful garden! So lush and green and full of good things!

  3. Katharine Kerr says:

    Deborah, some of your pictures don’t seem to have loaded. I see some captions in the middle without pix. 🙂

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