It looks like it’s going to be a good year for winter squash here. I’ve already started harvesting some of the early maturing types like Honeybaby butternut and Buffy. These are both individual sized ones that weigh around a pound each, and it looks like there might be upwards of 30 or more of them. Both are supposed to be good keepers, so we should be enjoying these well into winter.
Others will be ready soon, like the naked-seeded Pepitas pumpkin. I grew this one last year and the seeds are so tasty and easy to prepare, since they lack the hulls that most pumpkin seeds have. The flesh on this one is edible too, though I find the C. moschata pumpkins a bit more flavorful. One of the Pepitas vines in the below photo grew through the garden fencing and set fruit out there, which is a problem I have with some of the vining types. But I have a solution in mind for next year.
I’m experimenting with trellising some of the winter squashes this year, using concrete remesh panels tied to metal t-posts. The remesh panels are 4 feet wide by 6.5 feet tall, and I used zip ties to secure them to the t-posts. I got this idea from Michelle (From Seed To Table) who grows her vining squash this way with good results. In the below photo you can see one of the trellises surrounded by the other squashes that are vining all over the ground.
I setup three trellises this year, and planted Buffy, Tetsukabuto and Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash nearby and trained the vines to go up them. I am very pleased with the results, and next year I plan to put even more trellises to work. They are quick and easy to assemble, and really help make good use of vertical space in the garden. Tetsukabuto is a C. maxima X C. moschata hybrid squash that produces round 4 to 5 pound fruits with dark green skin. Some of these should be ready to harvest soon, and I’ve counted at least 6 of them on the vines so far. I guess it is considered a kabocha type squash even though it has a moschata parent.
Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash is an heirloom acorn type with a creamy white skin. It’s listed on the Slow Food USA Ark of Taste, and seeds for it were first offered on the Seed Savers Exchange in 1981. I am looking forward to trying this one, which is supposed to be the sweetest of the acorn squashes according to Amy Goldman in The Compleat Squash.
The Tromba d’Albenga squash would be a good candidate for trellising next year. The tromboncino squashes are vigorous growers, and this year I’ve got it planted near the outside edge of the garden so it can vine along the fencing. One downside is that the long squashes can form outside the fencing, and sometimes get stuck in the fencing as they grow. I think that will be less likely to happen on a trellis, though I’m not sure if I will be able to keep the wandering vines trained to it. If nothing else they should be easier to find!
A newcomer here this year is the hybrid neck pumpkin called Turkeyneck. I’ve grown a couple of the so-called ‘neck’ pumpkins over the years, including Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck and Canada Crookneck, but this is the first hybrid type I’ve ever seen. So far the immature fruits sort of look like an oversized butternut. The neck pumpkins are actually the forerunners of the butternuts, so I guess that’s not surprising. The skin should turn tan like a butternut when it matures.
Another newcomer is the Dickinson pumpkin. This C. moschata squash is the variety used by Libby’s for their canned pumpkin puree. The vines are taking over one corner of the garden, and so far I have spotted at least 4 pumpkins setting on. If they all mature we should be eating a lot of pie, custard and pumpkin bread in the months to come! This one is probably not a good candidate for trellising considering the size of the pumpkins. I have no idea how big ours will turn out, but they can reach up to 40 pounds. It’s hard to tell in the photo but this one is over a foot long and almost that wide. I’m guessing it is well over 10 pounds, though it will be a few weeks before I harvest any of them.
I hope you have enjoyed this update on the 2017 winter squashes. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from Happy Acres!