As the gardening season moves ever onward, the winter squashes are now maturing and I am harvesting them when they seem ready, or when the vines die down. This year I am experimenting with several new (to me) varieties, as well as growing my old favorites like Gold Nugget, Cornell’s Bush Delicata, Early Butternut and Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck (aka neck pumpkin).
The first three have all been harvested, and it was a pretty good year for all. The Gold Nuggets gave us 17 squash from 3 plants, and averaged right at a pound each. These keep fairly well, so we haven’t tried any of them yet. The Early Butternut were a little bigger, averaging 20 ounces each, and I harvested 5 from the single plant. The Bush Delicata was the winner in the yield department of these 3 varieties, producing 15 squash on 3 plants and averaging 21 ounces each. I baked a couple of these last week, and it was nice to have a taste of homegrown winter squash again.
One of the varieties I grew for the first time is Zeppelin Delicata. Zeppelin is a vining type that is supposed to produce squash that get from one to two pounds each, according to various seed companies. I got my seed from Fedco, who state the fruits get one pound each. My two plants vined all over the place, and I have harvested 11 fruits so far that average 10 ounces each. The largest ones are nice sized, weighing about a pound each, but there are quite a few runts that weight 6 or 7 ounces. We haven’t tasted these yet, but unless the flavor is much improved from the Bush Delicata I don’t think I will be growing this one again. In the below photo, that’s the Bush Delicata on the left and Zeppelin on the right.
Another first-timer here is Boston Marrow. My one vine gave me exactly one squash. But oh what a squash it is! Normally I take a Tubtrug to the garden to haul in a bucketful of squash at once, but this one I had to carry all by itself. It weighed in at 16.5 pounds, and while it is the biggest squash I have harvested this year, this heirloom variety can get up to 25 pounds each. I plan on using this one for baking and soups, so I will let it sit for a bit before I cook it up. If it tastes as good as it is supposed to taste, it will be back next year. It was difficult to get a good photo of it on the counter, but the one below has an apple and a peach next to it for scale, plus my hand. The color of the skin is a deep orange color, and the rind is thick and hard.
In past years I have had trouble with mold on some of my stored squashes. So this year I am wiping the outside down with a weak bleach solution before they go into storage. Several extension publications detail how to do this, including this one from Clemson University called: Pumpkins & Winter Squash. I made up a solution using 4 tsp bleach to a gallon of cool water. We will wash the skin of the squashes before cooking. I’m normally not a fan of dousing my homegrown, chemical free veggies with something like chlorine bleach, but in this case it makes sense to me. It’s just a slightly stronger solution than our already chlorinated water. And we use a weak bleach solution to sanitize our food preparation surfaces at the kitchen where I volunteer – which is approved and mandated by the health department. Hopefully this will reduce the mold and spore counts on the squash and help keep the losses down.
Out of the the squash department, but still in the Cucurbit family, we got the first Burpee’s Ambrosia cantaloupe last week. This one weighed a little over four pounds, which is a nice sized melon for this one, though they can get a bit bigger. My father loved this variety of cantaloupe, and since he grew up eating the famed Posey County melons (most of which actually come from Gibson county) that is saying something. After trialing many different varieties over the years, Ambrosia is my favorite cantaloupe, though one called Sugar Queen is pretty tasty also. Neither of these is likely to show up at farmer’s markets or other outlets since they do not ship or travel well. Fortunately, this one only had to travel from the garden to the kitchen, and then on to the plate!
Back in the squash department (this time the summer closeout aisle) I still have three of the summer squash plants fruiting. The rest are done for. The pace of harvest has slowed down considerably, which is not a bad thing. The Striata d’Italia zucchini is making a squash every couple of days. And the crookneck Gentry and straightneck Enterprise are seemingly getting a second wind. Powdery mildew is on all the leaves now, and I doubt they will go on much longer. Still, we’ve had summer squash for two solid months now, and the plants have given us over 125 pounds of fruit. We’ve given a lot of it away, which is a part of my ‘clearance’ strategy!
And speaking of clearing, I finally cleared the kitchen counter of tomatoes on Saturday, when I made a big batch of marinara sauce for the freezer. It didn’t last long though, since Sunday morning I hauled in another 16 pounds of paste tomatoes alone. So now they are laid out all over the counter, and in a box on the floor. We will be dealing with them in the next few days.
To see what other gardeners are hauling in or clearing out, visit Daphne’s Dandelions, where Daphne hosts the Harvest Monday series. I’ll be back soon with more updates on what’s happening here at HA!
Thanks for the introduction of these squashes, winter squash is one thing that so far eluded my trials. Maybe next year will be better. Lovely harvest, especially cantaloupe!
That’s the gardener’s credo, isn’t it – next year will always be better! I know that’s what I tell myself all the time.
Looking forward to reading, in a later post, about the results of wiping your winter squash with a weak bleach solution before they go into storage.
What nice squashes! I’d like to check out those varieties. Winter squash is a real challenge for me, but I am slowly getting improved harvests. Good, because I love the stuff! Thanks for the info on the bleach solution. It sounds like a good idea.
That Boston Marrow Squash is just beautiful! Sometimes the winter squashes are so pretty, I have hard time cutting in to them 🙂 Thanks for the walk through of your squash! It’s always fun to hear your experiences with veggies! Happy harvesting!
Nice squash and melon harvest. I think your plan to wash your storage squash with a weak bleach solution is a safe strategy. You are going to peel the squash anyway.
Beautiful squash! I tried growing Golden Nugget this year and I didn’t have any luck. I will try again next year.
I always love stopping by to see the incredible bounty from your garden! That Boston marrow is impressive, but I really like the idea of the small squash. It seems so much easier to cook and serve one small squash at a time rather than having to deal with preserving a big squash once you cut into it. I guess I just prefer my squash fresh cooked, even for dishes such as soup. This year I decided not to grow my favorite winter squash for just that reason and I’m trying a variety that produces smaller squash instead.
I have to say I am with you an preferring squash that is fresh roasted, at least for most uses, including soup. But it is nice to have some already cooked, mashed and frozen for things such as bread, muffins, and pies. Having some ready to use (except for thawing) is a nice convenience. Sometimes I roast a big one, use some fresh, and freeze the rest for later. The Boston Marrow might require it’s own unique strategy though!
If the Posey County melon is anything like the Vincennes Decker melon then it is food of the gods. I bought a Vincennes melon a month ago and it was melon ambrosia. Wish I had gotten more, now it’s too late.
Yep, they grow some great melons up there too. If you drive up Hwy 41 towards Vincennes you can see the melon fields everywhere.
I love Ambrosia melons too. When I can get it to ripen it is just so good. But it doesn’t produce well here. I grew it last year and keep thinking I have to try it again. Because when it does produce it is worth it.
I always wash my squash and green tomatoes with a bleach solution, then let them air dry. We just ate our last butternut from 2012 this month, just as the new crop began ripening, and I didn’t lose a single squash due to mold. Last year I used the bleach solution on one batch of tomatoes, but not on another. I lost nearly all of the untreated ones to rot, but not a single one of the treated ones rotted. I really don’t think the bleach has much staying power, just does its job and disappears. I’m not worried about using it on my food.
Thanks for weighing in on the bleach issue AG. I think you are spot on about the bleach not sticking around. Even the chlorine in water dissipates quickly once it’s out of the tap. It’s good to hear the bleach trick does some good!
That Boston Marrow squash is something else!
You could hitch up a carriage to it and take Cinderella to the Ball 🙂
WOW! What a haul. I’m completely and totally jealous. I don’t think on my best days I’ve had a harvest like that. I ador winter squash and am replanting now my spring squash plants didn’t make it as our summer rains killed them off. *sigh* Good thing for 2 chances down here!
We’ve been growing Boston Marrow for a few years now. It’s not the most flavorful of our winter squash, but it is a good keeper. It’s also a good conversation starter when one of them is parked in the kitchen 😉 I really like the look of the bush Delicata. Would love to hear if you note much difference in flavor between the two.
Squashes are not something I give much focus on, previously. I should really change that as there are so many fun varieties out there… Maybe next year ::credo:: 🙂
I know this is an old post but I’d like to know if the Zeppelin delicatas were in any way better tasting than the bush variety. I grew a vining kind last year that was a hit- long, large, super sweet, but only 2 per plant. If they are indistinguishable in taste, I’m thinking of trying the bush kind since mine likely cross pollinated with other squash.
Hi Brie! I’ve not grown the bush Delicata for a couple of years now. Mine started to have a bitter taste so I stopped growing them. I do grow the Zeppelin, but my favorite now is a vining type called Honey Boat Delicata. In taste tests last year, In taste tests last year both Honey Boat and Zeppelin had great flavor. They were not big producers, but then last year we had so much rain that none of the squashes really did that well.