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. ↓