"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Askutasquash


Squash was originally known as askutasquash by the Narragansett Indians, but the Pilgrims, having difficulty pronouncing this word simply called it squash. Either way, it was an extremely valuable source of food for both peoples, and one that we also heavily rely on as a source of nutrition for a large part of the season.

This year's askutasquash grew pretty well for us considering the fact that the plants were not provided with very sunny locations to grow in, mostly due to space constraints. Last night we picked many of our smaller squash from an area of our garden that becomes shady and damp this time of year, not ideal conditions for squash. A couple had blemishes even though we put down boards to help keep them away from the soil. The majority had fully matured and still looked great, so we decided to harvest them while they were still in good condition. Our larger Hubbard, Kabocha, and some of the Spaghetti squash were grown in a different garden and have been left on the vine for a while longer as the plants still look pretty good.

Spaghetti and Kabocha keeping each other company


This vegetable is always harvested by us around mid to late September just before any fall rains or frost can damage the crop. Normally at this time of year the vines have begun to die back and the rind has hardened to the point that it can no longer be easily pierced by our thumbnails. I leave a couple inches of stem on the squash as they perspire through their stems, and any without may begin to rot. Those that lack stems or have soft spots are always used first, and are usually the ones that we steam and freeze to be used as soup or in mashed squash dishes. The squash is then allowed to cure on our porch until the temperature drops below 50° at which point it is brought inside and kept cool and dry, right around 50-60°. Our acorn squash never stores very long for us so we try to use them first, I only grew a few this year because of that.

Large and reliable Blue Hubbard


Over the years I have for the most part grown the same 8-10 types of squash, not really trying too many new varieties. I certainly do have my favorites though; Blue Hubbard, Spaghetti, Sugar Pie pumpkin, and Gold Nugget squash. I can always count on these four to outperform in the garden regardless of the conditions in any given year. That, and they hold up extremely well in storage, some a good 10-11 months. We are often still eating the prior season's perfectly good squash towards the latter part of June.

Cross between a Blue Hubbard and Gold Nugget


Same crossed seeds, slightly different look ↓


We started growing Sugar Pie pumpkins and the little Gold Nugget squash about four years ago and have been very pleased with their productivity, tolerance for bad weather, and ability keep in storage. These have both been wonderful additions to the food garden and are very easy to manage in the kitchen. The little 2-5 pound Gold Nuggets grow on very compact plants making them perfect for tight spaces and have a surprisingly small seed cavity and lots of flesh, an ideal meal for two. We sometimes bake our squash dolled up with spaghetti sauce, herbs, ground cherries, and even a few elderberries (we just picked a gallon of these off our bushes), but more often then not we just grate them raw onto our salads enjoying their natural flavors.


Gold Nuggets growing on a compact plant, these were in a different part of the garden and can wait a bit longer before being harvested.

20 comments:

granny said...

I love hubbards too.Ive grown the green and the golden,with success!

mostlypurple said...

How do the crossed squashes measure up to the parents, taste-wise?

Mr. H. said...

Granny,

I'm going to have to try a couple other kinds, we have only grown the big blue hubbards. Maybe next year I will replace the butternut that has never done well for us with a golden hubbard.

Mr. H. said...

Mostlypurple,

Usually the squashes that cross are not too bad, sometimes really good. I purposely tried to get my blue hubbard and gold nugget to cross last year but have not as of yet eaten this year's results...I think they will taste good. Both turned out much larger then a nugget but smaller than the hubbard.

I grew them far away from the other squash just in case they do taste great so that I can save the seeds for next year.

LynnS said...

Oh, your photograph of the squash harvest in the field is a beautiful picture. It is so autumnal and full of warmth and hospitality. Beautiful photo of exquisite squash you grew and if I was into buying color calendars, this photo would be perfect for October!

I dunno why but a Blue Hubbard is the most awesome squash. I must like warty things....

Gorgeous crosses, I especially like the looks of the green and orange squash, so I can't wait to hear what you think of it when cooked.

Could your lack of success with Butternuts be that they seem to favor hot and dry regions?

Stefaneener said...

Too bad about the Butternuts. I really favor them. The pile of squashes looks like someone shrieking "Bounty!!"

On the other hand, every time I read elderberries I think of Monty Python and the insulting Frenchman, so maybe I'm not serious enough to be a gardener.

Roasted Garlicious said...

soooooo do u think u could leave us an address so we can come and help u with your eating of the squash?? :D my squash is a disaster once again this year.. i don't have a lot of room or good soil, so usually plant it on my compost heap, but this year.. the compost heap was destroyed and made into a new raised bed..but i have other friends in this area that had poor squashes too..

Silke said...

I love squash of any kind! We eat them raw, cooked, as pies, but our most favorite way is to roast them in the oven with a filling we make up of squash, nuts, berries, herbs and whatever else may strike our fancy. So good!!

Were those elderberries in that one photo? They looked so light? I remember them being very dark in Germany.

Hope you'll have a great weekend!! :) Silke

el said...

We'll have to do some comparisons re: squashville when we do the seed-trade thing. I am growing 6, oops make that 8, new varieties this year as well as some usual ones so I will have much to say once they all ripen.

SO not a fan of spaghetti squash though!

I harvested some Hubbard seeds from my lone monster volunteer squash last year and 6 seeds escaped when I was doing it. I cannot tell you how many new Hubbards I will have but it will be an insane number. I think it is time to get the roadside stand out and stocked!

Mr. H. said...

Lynn,

The Blue hubbard is one of my favorites flavor wise. We ate our last one on June 22nd this year and it still tasted pretty darn good, warts and all.

I know that the butternuts don't do well in our region but I figure that if I can grow sweet potatoes I should be able to grow a butternut...apparently not. Maybe I will grow one in the greenhouse next year.

Last year I kept our sweet potatoes under cover most of the year, they were not very big but they still tasted good. I didn't grow any this year...the slips are just too expensive and I have not had much luck making my own from store bought taters.

Mr. H. said...

Stefaneener,

Alas, the butternut and I were not meant to be, but I have sought the love of another and found it in the form of a Gold Nugget and that will have to suffice for me..

Thanks, now everytime I eat elderberries I will think of this quote:

"Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!" -

Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Mr. H. said...

Roasted Garlicious,

I wish that you would come over and assist with the eating of raspberries and tomatoes this year. Way, way too many.

Sorry about your squash...they will do great next year.:)

Mr. H. said...

Silke,

It is quite obvious that you were raised properly, you seem to have no fear of food. You are aware that is not normal these days, right?:) Do you find that people in Germany eat a lot healthier than we do in the U.S., or has that begun to change in Germany as well?

Mr. H. said...

El,

If you have never grown the sugar pies or gold nuggets I highly recommend both of them. Especially the nuggets, what a wonderful space saving squash.

I have learned to like the spaghetti squash mostly because my wife loves it when I cook them up with sauce, spices, and parmesan cheese. They also do so incredibly well for us that I can't not grow them. It's squash like these that allow me to get away with growing them in less than stellar locations. Too many trees and lots of shade.

Too bad you live so far away, between the two of us that stand would be filled with all sorts of interesting produce.

By the way, I just finished processing your valerian seeds...I hope you don't mind a little fuzz in your seeds.:) They are a tough one to clean. I have finally began bottling up some of my seeds that are dry but still have a long ways to go on the project. But I was able to save a nice amount of most of the seeds we talked about and a whole lot of others, some of which you may be interested in.

Rick said...

Great looking squash harvest you have there. Do you guys try and save seed from all of them or with so many varieties do you have to buy fresh seed every year? I don't expect much from our squash this year due to my late planting and the cucumber beetle infestation but maybe next year.

Silke said...

Thanks for a great laugh, Stefaneer and Mike - I haven't seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail in years!

As to your question about German eating habits, Mike, I'm sad to say that obesity is on the rise in the younger generation who have embraced the American fast food culture. However, all in all I think that Germans still tend to eat their whole-grain breads and lots of fruit and veggies. And cake, of course...;) Silke

It's me ...Mavis said...

Holy Crackers...that's a lot of squash. Thanks to your post I just added Gold Nugget to my seed list for next year....I cannot believe how compact that plant looks. As always, awesome post.

Mr. H. said...

Rick,

We try to save some of our own seeds but do still buy some. I hand pollinated a few of our squash and zucchini this year so that I would get pure seed, that was a bit challenging as I grew them all way to close together...lesson learned.

I purposely grew my gold nugget and hubbards together last year so they would cross with each other, hopefully the crossed squash will taste good.

Mr. H. said...

Silke,

Anything for a good laugh!

I'm always sad when I read about countries like Japan and apparently Germany that used to have such a great diet falling into the American food trap.

Oh what I wouldn't give for a real German sausage. Luckily there is nothing like that available where we live and my mostly vegetarian diet is still safe.:)

Mr. H. said...

Mavis,

I can't wait to hear how the Gold Nuggets do for you. I am planning on growing more of them and less of a couple others next season.

Thanks for all the great squash ideas, I can't wait to try the bread. My wife made your squash pie a couple days ago...it was delicious.

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