In terms of vegetable growing, much emphasis is made on the number of days needed to produce. Many of the same vegetables need different times to produce. Thus, “Early” tomatoes, “Baby” beets, etc. In terms of squash, Summer and Winter squash need to be planted around the same time. What are some winter squashes, you may ask. Pumpkins, Kabocha, Hubbard, Spaghetti, Butternut, Acorn and Buttercup squash are some, to name just a few.
Here is a link to good visual website for more. Some winter squash are blue, like the Hubbard. “Kaikai” is another, known for its striped outer hull and delicious black seeds, full of healthy oils and vitamins! I’m growing most all of these at the Lafond Vineyard for the Bistro. Winter squash needs 100+ days to bear a full size fruit. Summer squash, like Zucchini, Crookneck and Patty Pan squash, to name a few, need only 50+ days to produce.
But they have to be planted at nearly the same time. Summer squash we all know to pick before they grow too large. With Winter squash, you just leave the fruit on and when mature, stop watering and let the vine die. Its a very beautiful sight. But you have to slowly roll the Winter squash around weekly as it ripens so it will be round and evenly colored, or you’ll end up with bumpy and flat fruit. The skins of Winter squash are typically thick and the inside somewhat hollow, allowing for good storage.
After the vine dies and the squash is out in the field, the sugars are mellowing out and becoming that wonderful flavor we recognize in Pumpkin Pies or Butternut soup. The squash can be stored either outdoors or indoors, just perfect timing for Thanksgiving and/or Christmas. They can be kept for up to a year in dry storage because of their thick skins. In Asian counties, Winter squash is the norm for most villages. Pumpkins are picked young and made into delicious curries.
Elephants rampage patches because they love them so. “Buttercup” Winter Squash is a favorite because of its small size and cup like shape, they are easy to stuff. “Kabocha” is a wonderful squash for making into a soup because of its dry texture. “Butternut” is great baked and then roasted with Sweet Bell Peppers and Hazelnuts. There is nothing like the smell and flavor of Winter Squash to make the winter time blues feel warm and wonderful! So go and get your Winter Squash in while you still have room to grow them, as most are large vining plants. You can always move those vines around before the fruit gets big.
Plant tall vegetables, like Peppers between them, to maximize your space. Another note on Winter Squash; some have “warts”, lots of them. It turns out, in a Winter Squash, this is a good thing and can represent the sugar content. So don’t be afraid of the warty squash, its probably very sweet inside, a good parallel for life. I think. Read whatever information you can on your Winter Squash to help plan your garden space.
Barbara of Wind Rose Farms and Noe of Yes Yes Nursery, across from each other at the Saturday Farmers market in SB can answer many of your questions and have plants for sale. Plant your Pumpkins now for Halloween time! Although they do not show off in the summer, Winter Squash will be the star of the kitchen long after the Zucchinis have gone south for the winter. Here is a link to a recipe for Winter Squash Curry and another for stuffed acorn squash with turkey.