Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Unsquished Squash Part II

If you want to read more about our winter squash crop in general, you can go look at Part I.

Galeaux d'Eysines 
(we call it a Bumpkin)

The Bumpkin is one of those winter squash we've had a 'love-hate' relationship with.  They are ever so cool looking when they do their thing.  They are ever so frustrating when they do not.  This year, they did their thing.  We classify these as a pumpkin and consider them to have a great texture for pies, breads and soups.  Excellent taste and a smaller seed cavity.  We've found that these suffer terribly from cucumber beetle attacks if you direct seed them and very few plants tend to survive.  They don't care for cooler years either.  On the other hand, start them in trays and transplant them in a normal to warm year and you'll get a decent representation.  Vines can wander a bit.  Fruit size is anywhere from 5 to 15 pounds.  Averaging around 8. 

Musquee de Provence

Yet another French heirloom winter squash.  We grow these primarily for the fabulous taste these bring to pies, breads, muffins and any other baking we might want to throw pumpkin into.  You might find yourself putting in less nutmeg and other spices when you use this pumpkin because it does have a great taste.  Squash tend to be larger (the one above weighs 18 lbs).  Don't expect very many per vine.  They do seem to do something for us every year as long as the season is long enough.  In other words, don't miss your planting date!  The pumpkin above is pretty typical for what they look like when ripe.  Smallish seed cavity.  The biggest issue for us with these is weed control.  So, we recommend starting in trays and transplanting to get a good full season.  Then, some good mulch will go along ways to helping you get some trophy squash out of this variety.  We have noticed that a higher percentage of these will succumb to a rot issue around the stem.

Thelma Sanders

This is, in fact, a blond acorn squash.  We love the production levels and the consistency this variety gives us and were dismayed when the seed supply was not available this year.  We are hopeful it will rebound.  As it was, we grow what we had left from the year before.  Less grainy and stringy than a standard dark green acorn squash and often a bit bigger on average.  We think it has a slightly nutty taste as compared to the standard acorn squash and would pick one of these to eat first. 

Marina di Chioggia

And now, an Italian heirloom squash.  This has been one of our favorites since we started growing heirloom winter squash.  Rob was not a fan of squash until this one and Burgess Buttercup came along to our grow lists.  Dryer texture and bright orange flesh.  These can be anywhere from 5 to 18 lbs in size.  Pick them when the stems are "corky."  You won't get as many fruit on these as others, but the size and taste tend to make up for it.  Cook one of these up for dinner and then have good leftovers for several days.  Or cook it up and freeze it for later use.  Benefits from having companion flowers, so put some nasturiums and zinnias nearby.  If we had to pick ONE winter squash for ourselves, we would pick this one.  If we had to pick one for farm/CSA production, we'd probably have to be less creative and go with Waltham Butternut.

Waltham Butternut

Since I mentioned it.  Waltham Butternut is the most reliable producer we know.  Many people identify the butternut as winter squash and are unaware of other types of squash.  Flesh is orange and wetter than buttercup types (like Marina di Chioggia).   Stems are solid, so they are not susceptible to vine borers.  Even in a rough cucumber beetle year, a decent number of seedlings survive.  Resistant to most blights or diseases.  Stems are tough, squash store very well (we've had some last easily to April).  Pick them when they are a rich tan color and preferable without a green stripe running from the stem (though these will be fine if you are forced to bring them in, they just aren't quite as rich in taste we think).

Stay tuned for Unsquished Squash Part III

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