The Squash Factor

With temperatures plummeting and squalls of rain dominating the late bursts of sunshine, it was time to harvest our winter squash.

I cut the fruits from their vines, being careful to leave T-bar stalk handles to try and minimise rotting back into the fruits.  This year I had to fight for the space to grow squashes, securing a 3m by 3m area where I could grow 9 plants allowing each a metre to roam – with sweetcorn planted in a grid among them.

After last year’s glut from three courgette plants, as the sole courgette lover in our household, I planted out just one this year, along with a yellow scallop for variety.  It was a strange year for all the squashes; the courgette was not as abundant as last year’s but did at least keep me with a slow feed of fruits after a late start. From the patty pan squash I have harvested just one fruit all summer – I shall not give up precious space for one of those again!

And the winter squashes have been sadly disappointing after last year’s harvest. The single pumpkin only had one small fruit, which I accidentally knocked off a few weeks’ ago. It did not go to waste, as I quickly cut it into chunks and roasted it, and it was probably too late in the season to grow much more anyway. The Crown Prince which performed so well for us last year did not give us any harvest this year – another redundant plant.

I had high expectations of the Cornell’s Bush Delicata, and while we have one beautiful stripy fruit, it is very small, only weighing a couple of hundred grammes, and rather lonely.

Our most bountiful harvest has been from the Turk’s Turban – 4 decent fruits from two plants, most 2kg or above; a respectable crop but I would have hoped for at least 3 squash from each. However they are just as beautiful as I hoped; I love their gnarled bottoms and rich autumn colours, and they seem robust.

 We also harvested two decent squashes from the Marina di Chioggia plants – presumably one from each; with the tangle of limbs across the plot it did become rather hard to tell. They have a beautiful dark green mottled colour, although their skin is smoother than the warty nobbles I was expecting. One is a whopper, weighing in over 5kg, while the other is still around the 2kg mark.

Despite my grumbling, it has been a strange year for many of the vegetables on our plot this year, and with others reporting that their squashes and pumpkins have simply rotted away, we are grateful for our modest harvest. The fruits are now curing on the potting bench in the greenhouse, soaking up the last rays of sunshine.

I look forward to tasting these three new varieties, and if they match their reputations in flavour then I shall give them another chance next year, and hope for better weather and more fruit!

Here’s hoping for a few more weeks of sunshine to dry their skins so that we may enjoy them throughout the winter. They are certainly one of the most attractive harvests of the year.

Now it’s time to take up the fight again for their space in the kitchen garden next year – I suspect that I will be down to just six plants on six squared metres next year, so I must choose varieties that are really going to work for us.

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14 thoughts on “The Squash Factor

  1. They do take up a remarkable amount of space. I like the Turk’s head, I didn’t realise they were edible, I thought they were just decorative. I have never found that one courgette does well, I think they need a second plant to fertilise the flowers to produce well; having said that 3 plants can easily be too many so it is difficult to get it right. I think you can be justifiably pleased with your harvest and enjoy eating squash during the next few weeks. Christina

    • I chose the Turk’s Turbans based on reviews of their sweet nutty taste – look forward to trying them. Their unusual good lucks are a bonus, though they may have also swayed me :). Interesting about 2 courgette plants being better than one, I certainly intend to grow 2 next year, and whichever winter squashes I can cram in too.

  2. At least you had some squashes – I’m a squash-rotter this year… and the Turk’s Turbans are gorgeous, look just like their portraits in The Compleat Squash… I can keep hoping, then!

  3. I see Comments again. Maybe the adverts take Sundays off. 🙂
    In my local garden centre this weekend they are selling what they describe as “gourds” – squashes, pumpkins, gourds etc – in a big varieties of shapes sizes and colours, as ornaments. Must be prompted by the proximity of Halloween.

    • I hope blogger/wp/ads resolve themselves soon! Thanks for persisting though :). Funny to think of them growing all that fruit just for decoration!

  4. Wow I’m behind with my reading, I see you have 13 posts I need to catch up on! We have also done very badly with the squashes (although the courgettes have been a bumper crop this year), I have’t even lifted mine yet as they need as much growing time as I can give them they are so small. Love the Turk’s Turban, one of my favourites and great to see your Marina di Chioggia as I’ve yet to manage to get mine to actually fruit. Bethx

    • I know the feeling, I am very behind with reading/commenting! Sorry that you’ve had a bad squash year too, although at least your courgettes have compensated! I thought we only had one M. di C. fruit, the big one was hiding beneath the florence fennel 🙂 – a great surprise when I came to harvest them!

  5. I love the look of those Turk’s Turban squashes. Your post makes me feel better about my mostly meagre squash harvest, though the summer squash Little Gem Rolet have been prolific and really tasty roasted. Next year I will grow them up a wigwam to save space.

    • We’re contemplating building some sturdy structures to grow our main squash up next year – the smaller types at least – to try and reclaim some space from them. Could be an interesting experiment at least.

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