Squashed, Again

Last week I harvested quite a few of the winter squashes. Like most everything else in the garden this year, they were running about 3 weeks ahead of last year’s crop. The Delicata and Acorn plants were totally done for, and most of the butternuts were done as well. All of those were bush varieties. I also hauled in many of the Small Wonder spaghetti squashes. The squashes may be smaller sized, but the vines sure love to ramble! It made for a little over 40 pounds of squash.

bucket of winter squashes (click on any image to enlarge)

The Gold Nugget squashes weren’t quite ready yet, and I still have Tatume, Boston Marrow and the Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck (aka neck pumpkin) growing. It looks like a pretty decent year for the winter squashes, even if I did lose the Kuri Kuri and Candy Roaster vines earlier on to wilt. One of the Delicatas was attacked by the dreaded squash vine borer, but so far only one squash plant has been hit. Bacterial wilt is usually a bigger problem here than the SVB, with the striped and spotted beetles both serving as vectors for the disease.

Small Wonder spaghetti squashes

And speaking of insects, it’s been an interesting year so far. We’ve had very few Japanese beetles or squash bugs, which is good news indeed. Both of these are usually quite pesky around here. And we’ve also had very few flea beetles. But we had a real explosion of the striped cucumber beetles, which no doubt caused much of the wilt problems. Oh well, every year brings its own set of challenges to the gardener, for sure.

from left to right: Juliet, Black Cherry, Golden Rave and Golden Sweet tomatoes

mix of slicers and paste tomatoes

Meanwhile, we have started the annual tomato processing marathon. My wife has been drying them in the dehydrator, and I froze a few pints of cut up ones for soup. And we had several on BLT sandwiches this week. That is a summertime treat I really enjoy! When more of the paste types are ripe I will start cooking some down for sauce and puree.

tomatoes in dehydrator

I also harvested the potatoes from the 2012 Smart Pot Experiment. I got slightly less than 3 pounds of spuds from two large pots. That is an experiment I won’t be repeating. I know other gardeners have success growing potatoes in containers, but it wasn’t worth the effort or expense for us, consider how well they grow when planted in the ground.

German Butterball potatoes

Now appearing in the harvest basket is the first of the eggplants. Millionaire is a long purple Japanese type eggplant that does well for us here. It went into a mixed stir fry one night, along with squash, carrots, yardlong beans and some shrimp. The smaller Hansel and Fairy Tale eggplants are coming on now as well, and I fixed some of them on the grill.

Millionaire eggplants

We slipped away to Nashville last week to see a concert. The next morning we had breakfast with a friend, and then headed to the great downtown Farmer’s Market to see what goodies we could find. We came back with some shelled purple hull peas, speckled lima beans, bi-color sweet corn, and a couple of melons. All are things we don’t grow here, but still enjoy eating now and then. One of the melons was a yellow canary type. We bought it on the recommendation of the grower, and it was very tasty, with a flavor somewhat in between a honeydew and a cantaloupe.

inside of Canary melon

outside of Canary melon

I’ve never grown a canary melon before, but I believe it will be on the 2013 garden plan, along with my old standbys like Burpee’s Ambrosia and Sugar Queen. We’re planning on replacing the plastic deer fencing around the big vegetable garden with some metal fencing this fall. This fencing project will expand the garden by a couple hundred square feet, and I plan to put the extra space to use by growing things like dry beans and melons.

That’s a look at what we’ve been harvesting here this July. I’ll be back later this week with a recipe using zucchini squash, and it’s a summertime favorite here!


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28 Responses to Squashed, Again

  1. Robin says:

    Wow, your garden is definitely ahead this year! I agree with you on planting potatoes in containers. They really don’t do that well.

    Love the eggplants! Can’t wait for mine to be ready!

    • Dave says:

      I’m still waiting for the Italian eggplants, but they are setting on and it won’t be long before they are ready for some Eggplant Parmesan!

  2. Norma Chang says:

    What a gorgeous harvest! I do like the size of your Small Wonder spaghetti squashes very much. Should look into this variety next year. Hoping my tomatoes will hurry up and produce.

    • Dave says:

      Norma, Small Wonder is amazingly productive. The squashes are just right for smaller servings. Many of the other varieties get huge. Small Wonder also stores well, staying good for almost a year.

  3. Marcia says:

    I was surprised to see you had acorn and butternut squash already. Someone at church brought acorn squash to give away. I always thought of that as an August harvest.

    Your spaghetti squash looks like the unknown volunteer squash/pumpkin I have growing. Seeing yours makes me realize I should probably harvest it now since it’s exactly the same color. Thing is I don’t know where it would have come from.

    • Dave says:

      Mystery squashes are always fun. I had a Carnival volunteer near the compost bins one year. I’ve never grown it, or bought it at the store, so who knows where the seeds came from!

  4. Dave's SFG says:

    Really great harvest, you are weeks ahead of us. I’m just starting to get a few tomatoes, beans, and squash. You reminded me I have to look into getting a dehydrator. I’m not big on canning but maybe dehydrating some tomatoes would be a way to preserve some of the harvest.

    • Dave says:

      I’ll put a plug in for the Excalibur dehydrators. We love ours, and it does a great job on tomatoes and everything else we’ve tried.

  5. maryhysong says:

    Great looking harvest! My winter squash are still setting fruit and taking over the world. They won’t be ready to pick until Sep/Oct.

  6. kitsapFG says:

    I am amazed that you are bringing in winter squashes already! Mine are just setting fruit at this point and all tiny. With our growing climate it is a race to get them to maturity before the cold fall rains arrive and kill off the plants from molds and mildews. I pretty much lost that race last year due to the record setting cold summer we had – but I am hopeful this year of bringing in a good harvest of winter squashes – only it will be two months from now!

    I totally agree with your assessment of container growing potatoes. It’s a good option if that is all you have room for, but honestly I never get good production from them grown that way and have long ago quit doing it altogether and focus instead on the garden planted patch.

    • Dave says:

      I was amazed too! But the squashes were definitely ready, with nice hard skins and good colors. I’m guessing the heat wave helped speed them up.

  7. 40 pounds of winter squash! Wow! I do love the taste of spaghetti squash. Maybe I should try to grow some of that. Great harvest.

    • Dave says:

      The Small Wonder spaghetti squash is so productive. We regularly get 10-15 pounds from a single vine. They are nice in the kitchen because they aren’t quite so big.

  8. Michelle says:

    Wow, winter squash already! Your summer veggies are so far ahead of mine. We have a cool start to summer every year and this year is no exception, actually, July is off to a cooler start than normal. I am envious of those beautiful tomatoes, mine are still green and tiny.

  9. Daphne says:

    It is interesting that you have had more cucumber beetles than normal We have had that here too. I rarely if ever lose my plants to wilt, but this year might be the exception. They are just everywhere. Them and the earwigs.

    And I can’t believe you are picking squash already. My butternuts haven’t even flowered yet. Male or female. I hope they ramp up production soon. I love my squash.

  10. Jenny says:

    wonderful harvest! our squashes are just starting to form so long time from harvest.

  11. dorothy says:

    I’m impressed with your early squash harvest. Actually, all of your harvests look GREAT!!

  12. Mike R says:

    Can’t believe you are harvesting winter squash already. Mine are on life support after developing chlorosis in the heat. I don’t think it’s bacterial wilt as they seem to be recovering. There’s been very little insect pressure here too, which is probably 100 miles north of you. Almost no Japanese beetles for the second year, very few squash bugs or cucumber beetles, and the flea beetles are all drawn to the eggplant. The biggest problem is a mole that is on a rampage.

    • Dave says:

      I think I will take the beetles and leave you with the mole! The theory around here was that moles would be less a problem this year because of less Japanese beetle grubs, but I guess there are other things for them to eat.

  13. Rick says:

    Wow, that’s a lot of squash. I can’t get anyone around here to eat squash so we grow very little of it. We have lost several plants to bacterial wilts this year as well. I’ve never had to deal with that problem in my garden before so it was a bit of a shock. No zucchini for us at all this year because of it!!

  14. Liz says:

    Those Black Cherry tomatoes look absolutely perfect. I sowed my seed on the weekend and I very much hope I get some like that. I’m also interested in how early your getting winter squash – we never have them until well into Autumn.

  15. Mary N. says:

    How does the taste of Small Wonder Spaghetti squash compare to the original spaghetti squash? I’ve grown the original Spaghetti squash and the varieties High Beta Gold and Vermicelli. I like the original, but I won’t grow the others because I don’t like their taste. Also Vermicelli doesn’t break into strands very easily.

    This year I’m growing the original Spaghetti – only one hill, two plants. Yesterday one was wilted so I pulled it suspecting borers. Cut the vine lengthwise and found none so I concluded it’s bacterial wilt. This is the first time I’ve lost a 4′ long squash vine to wilt. I’ve lost seedlings, but if a variety doesn’t survive the seedling stage I don’t grow it again.

    • Dave says:

      I’ve never grown the Beta Gold or Vermicelli, but the flavor of Small Wonder tastes like the Spaghetti squash I get at the grocery.

  16. I am truly utterly floored by your winter squash harvest. Just WOW! Over 40 pounds!! Winter squash are one of those things we struggle to grow and I think the most we ever got was 5 or 6 one year.

    Thes rest of your varied harvest looks good too!

  17. Bee Girl says:

    Wow! I can’t believe you already have winter squash! How amazing!!!

  18. Barbara Good says:

    Dave, your posts are always so packed with information, I love them! I’m finding it particularly interesting to read about the pests your encounter, I’ve never heard of most of them. I wonder if they are different bugs or just different names. Any chance of some photos? I guess I could just google it couldn’t I!

  19. Amy in PA says:

    Everything looks wonderful! I planted some Hansel eggplant after reading your posts about it and even after a huge tree fell & took out (sigh) my half of the garden including all my heirloom tomatoes the eggplant in a 5 gal bucket survived & we’ve eaten several. I really enjoy hearing about all the veggie varieties you try. I just picked the first of a new (to me) variety of okra called Lee from Park Seed. I can’t wait to try it, the pods are very tender, I promised this first batch to a friend but I’ll have more tomorrow. I was almost a month late planting it but they’re producing like crazy & now have more light since half the tree is gone, lol… Wish I had some beans, despite replanting 3 or 4 times & employing several types of fencing the deer have eaten them all.

  20. Mary says:

    What lovely squash! That’s a terrific variety you have!

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