On an earlier thread, P.G. Sharrow had made the statement that growing Summer Squash was a waste of time. To just grow winter squash and eat some of them at an immature stage.
Well, that got me thinking… always a dangerous thing…
So I let some summer squash run to seed (since that stops them from making too much squash – which I had – and gives you seed for next year) and instead of my usual ‘let it age 6 months then take the seeds out’ – which gives better seeds, but the hull is useless as it is thin and dry – decided to ‘let it age a month or two’ then treat it like any winter squash.
You get pretty good seeds that way ( I have a large collection from winter squash I have bought over the years and they grow well) and you get to eat the squash. Excess seeds can be salted and toasted.
On to The Story:
So I did my usual seed wash / prep (now sitting in a dish for 3 days to ‘ferment’ that reduces mold problems) and eventually to be dried, vernalized ( put in the fridge / freezer for a while that helps germination) and eventually to be next years “summer squash”.
But, instead of ‘ditch the shell’, did an oven bake.
The result was a nice quantity of firm yellow flesh (it was about 9 inches long… a small one) of a mild flavor. Well, really an insipid not much at all flavor.
Now the issues I can see are that:
1) This one was harvested small. The typical off of these plants is about 18 inches long at maturity. This plant had been stressed and while the squash was mature, not large. I have 2 others of full size that will age a bit longer before I try again.
2) I only aged it about a month. Some kinds of winter squash improve in flavor if aged a while after picking. Kabocha is like that, IIRC. Was my aging not sufficient?
3) Wrong type? This squash is a zucchini base that has likely had intrusion of other Pepo species genes along the way. Most likely some yellow straight neck who are known for low flavor. It makes nice large yellow easy to find zucchini shaped squash that are fine in a saute or soup or stew or… but that is as a summer squash that is expected to mostly taste like garlic, butter, oregano, pepper, onions… So the question is: It is just unsuited to treatment like a winter squash as it is expected to be bland? Backwards from what P.G. does, but it was what I had growing to explore…
In any case, I also planted some Winter Squash that has only recently come to maturity.
They, too, are a kind of a mule. ( I like exploring genetics some times so don’t mind at all the crossing. I have a stock of pure seeds if the drift becomes a problem.) In this case, I deliberately planted Carnival F2 seeds. Carnival is an F1 hybrid, so the planting of these seeds of an F1 bought at the store will produce F2 in the field. You get a BUNCH of variations on the mix of genes, then can spend time to pick what you like best and ‘stabilize the cross’.
I got larger and smaller, some an all solid light green, others green and cream striped, orange and cream striped, orange and cream with green tip (like the actual carnival) and some almost pure cream color. All very nice to look at. I’m saving these seeds and will likely select for the “orange and cream” along with the “original color pattern” types.
I also planted two plants of almost pure Acorn type solid green from a very old seed packet from just such a store type.
Now all these are growing very near each other and the bees will be crossing them. I’m fine with that. Anytime I want, I have far too many of each accession of seeds and can back up to any point if desired. (So I have the original Yellow Zucchini along with the original 8 Ball and the original Cocozelle and the original Yellow Straight Neck from a decade back still in the freezer and still viable, along with each generation in between).
But… What I didn’t expect…
1) The plain Acorn type just tastes the best. A richer more pleasing flavor. I want an easier to find color than deep green, so this is an annoyance. I’ll likely do a taste compare of a saved plain Orange Acorn vs the Green (and I think I have a yellow and cream – all non-crossed) But I was interested in the color pattern of the Carnival…
2) The Carnival grows well, and looks really interesting, but just isn’t as flavorful. I can likely do a lot of crossing and selecting, but…
3) It was very unclear when to pick them as “summer squash”. Basically, they are a bit small from my POV as a ‘summer squash’ and then the shell seems to harden up fairly fast…
All of which leads to me main point here:
Just what Winter Squash works best when treated as a Summer Squash when young? I can flounder around a few years doing the ‘discovery’, but you already do this. So: Suggestions?
Any Summer Squash that work OK as a winter squash?
Any Winter Squash that do well as Summer Squash when young?
(but without the issues I ran into…)
Any pointers to better varieties for these ‘off label” uses appreciated…
FWIW, next year I intend to start growing Winter Squash by default and only grow a single Summer Squash plant if I need to … and that likely to be ‘8 ball’ as it is very small, makes 2 person sized squash, and I have a lot of seeds for it already ;-) Also does well in a tub in the front yard further away from the rest of the types in the garden…
With that, let the squash discussion begin!
And thanks to any and all who have an opinion on squash… either in this odd ‘inverted use’ or in just the regular old way.