On squash

P1000534Butternut squash does very well trained to a trellis

I am quite happily overwhelmed with winter squash this year.  Considering how late I planted everything, and how many times I had to replant things due to nongermination (it was a cold and wet spring), I suppose I didn’t hold out much hope.  The compost comes through in a pinch though:  I planted out quite a few seedlings found in its general vicinity and quite a few of them came through as pure.  Not all did; that’s what makes it fun:  am I creating a new squash or two?  Probably.  Are they keepers?  Doubtful, but…they’re colorful.

Summer squash, well, meh.  Admittedly it’s never been my favorite.  Beer-batter fried, sure; that was my dad’s specialty, but he’s been dead for 30 years now so that’s a long time to be missing that particular yellow crookneck preparation.  I will say that I am growing an eightball variety of zucchini this year and its small size has much to recommend it.  I don’t think it tastes anything like my standby (Costata Romanesco), but the fact that it doesn’t balloon to a baseball bat overnight is celebration alone.

But the winter squash.  The sheer enthusiasm of the vines, the size of the leaves:  you want to feel like a denizen of Lilliput, then plant some of the cucurbita maxima clan and stand back!

P1000542Not enough room in THIS garden for me:  how about out there? Jarrahdale (blue Australian) pumpkin climbs garden fence seeking alternate accommodation, a good 20′ from where I planted its seed

11 responses to “On squash

  1. Thank you…Thank you… thank you…for posting your picture of the baby butternut squash….now I know what is growing in my unidentified squash mound…now identified. 🙂 mavis

  2. Ok, so how do you train them onto a trellis? I’ve got butternut that grows out of the compost pile (I’ve got several piles going) that I usually just leave there. It gets all gangly and runs all over the pile. I’d like to get it up off the ground. Considering how big those suckers get (the squash) how do you keep it from breaking off the stem and falling on the ground?

  3. Theoretically a friend is growing butternuts for me this year, but I have a pumpkin patch that’s pretty happy and am trying jack-be-littles for the first time this year. They seem to be going great, have taken to training on a fence, and per a fellow gardener should be fantastic eating. We’ll see!

    I’m trying a new climbing italian summer squash this year that had a late start but is picking up now, hopefully they will taste good and be a space-saver.

    Psst, didn’t you mention giving tips on vine borers? I had a zuke bite the dust and am watching the rest closely…

    • Stay tuned, Sara! I need someone to photograph the process. Wait! I am married to a photographer! I need to book some of his time, apparently…the post, however, is written.

  4. I can testify to winter squash’s propensity to climb. Last year my butternut squash vines crawled over 8 feet to find my rhodendrun bushes (6 feet high each) and took up residence there. I liked the way it kept the squash off the ground so well, I built them a trellis this year. Great pictures! Thanks

  5. i’m happy for your winter squash success, but admittedly, more than a little jealous. while my summer squash is doing fantasically (costata romanesca and early yellow summer crookneck), the winter squashes directly adjacent (spaghetti, uncle david’s dessert, butternut) are all dead or dying. with little squashes on them, begging for a chance; so sad.

  6. I just posted about my frantic squash-saving attempts. And I must put up pictures of the Triamble that ran over a 6′ fence a good 12′ from the planting point! I’m wondering if I’m going to have to fashion a t-shirt sling for that one.

    I like the costatas and I want more, more MORE winter squash next year.

  7. I would love love love to have the space to grow my own butternut squash – they are pretty much my hands-down fav winter squash, and I am firmly addicted. But because they do grow so huge, for now at least it is a dream only. The fact that you were able to get such good results even though planting was a bit late makes me think that there is hope for my fall garden after all.

  8. Mavis, I have a few butternut volunteers too! Word to the wise: they take a LONG time to ripen, just like pumpkins.

    Jules, my experience with training them is this: you just need to wrap them around the trellis netting nearly daily. I have noticed the squash themselves don’t get as hugely big as the compost-fed, on-the-ground ones but believe me that is fine, as I think I STILL have butternuts in the basement. And the other thing about trellising them: their stems are pretty strong, so you might not necessarily need to put them in a sling. But: whatever’s working for you, do it!

    Sara, I haven’t heard of eating the jack-be-littles but let me tell you I eat any and ALL squash when young, including the winter ones. Heck, they’re all summer squash until they’re not, right? That Italian climbing variety sounds interesting!

    Deborah, every year I have squash climbing the fence and in general causing lots of chaos. I even made a new area for them and guess what? They’re climbing the fence there too! Crazy things. Did you build a pup-tent kind of trellis? My gardening buddy builds those.

    Serina, check out today’s post and make sure you bury anywhere where the stems are hitting the ground: the plant might recover!

    Stef, you might have to. I got some of those seeds from Novella, is that where you got yours? Anyway, enlist a child or two in helping with the slings: it’s a real physics experiment in action!

    MC, butternut squash has NOTHING on the size of the pumpkin-like squash I grow! And really, you can trellis it, and use the trellis earlier for peas or whatever. Butternut squash are pretty good, and relatively pest-free (squash bugs give them a pass and vine borers aren’t much of a problem because their stems aren’t as meaty as others), so try it next year! It’s too late to try to grow them for the fall.

  9. I have injected BT into the sqash vines with some success. I mix it per the bottle instructions for spray. I inject it at the base of the plant and then cover the hole with foil. I do this before or after they are attacked. You can get syringes and needles at farm stores without the odd looks you get at the pharmacy counter. Mine are years old and I imagine you’ll have to show ID and sign for them now.

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