Every year we grow winter squashes of various sorts for food. I specify food rather than decoration because the output of a small plot of land in nutrients and calories from winter squashes is extremely good. They’re not only delicious (and beautiful) but are low in sodium and fat, and provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Growing them is fairly easy, although the vines have a tendency to wander and take over.
Like summer squashes, winter squashes hybridize and so it’s best to either grow only one variety or start them from commercially obtained seed or seedlings every year. At least, that’s the theory. We often end up with “mystery squashes.” (“Wait! I don’t remember planting that – what is it?”) Our current theories are: (a) these are truly hybrids from last year’s crops; (b) they are hybrids from the seeds that entered our garden through compost scraps. The latter used to be more true when we got vegetable trimmings from the local health food store. My husband tells me we use “cold” composting (worms) rather than the “hot” method, so seeds will survive.
|Boer White squash|
|Buttercup, one of our favorites|
Mystery squash, perhaps a hybrid of delicata and acorn. We got two and have devoured one. The shell is quite hard, as it often is with hybrids, but the flesh was delicious.The seeds will go to a friend who runs a seed-saver business.
|Myystery squash, a cross with Cinderella pumpkin|
This year, our garden produced about 100 lbs of winter squash. After harvest, we washed them, wiped them down with antiseptic cloths to reduce mold spores, and will “cure” them in the house for a couple of weeks before moving them out to the humidity-controlled library shed for longer-term storage.
We’ve already enjoyed one of the mysteries, and I’ve cut into the Boer White. In color and aroma, the flesh is like cantaloupe. The flavor is so delicate as to be barely discernible. More than that, between the thick shell, layer of green/white, and large seed cavity, there’s not all that much edible portion (unlike Cinderella, which is extremely generous). Likely we won’t grow this variety again, as we prefer more strongly flavored squashes.
The larger of our Boer Whites. The ruler is 6" and the squash weighed about 7 lbs.