Hey P.G.: About Squash

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.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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10 Responses to Hey P.G.: About Squash

  1. p.g.sharrow says:

    From my own experience summer squash are only acceptable young, before the seeds develop much. Age-ed, maybe scrape out the seeds and stuff with something edible and throw out the hulk later;-)
    A winter /summer squash I prefer young is from the spaghetti squash. and if you miss them they a decent winter squash. Mature, Nuc or bake until soft, scrape out the strands and smother them with butter and cheese. good, Spaghetti sauce, yuck! Young, cut and cook, just like their cousin Zucchini only much better :-) Store mature fruits cool and dry for up to 6 months

    A winter squash that I prefer is the Butternut. Mature, bake with butter, pumpkin spice and Dark sugar, Yummy. Be sure to age harvested fruit for a couple of months to fully develop sugars and flavor. These will last for many months in a cool dry place (under the bed?) ;-) 12 to 16 months.

    To get the best summer use from winter squash harvest YOUNG! before the bloom drops. They do develop a thick skin fairly soon.

    Trying to line breed squash requires lot of separation or remove all male flowers as they show except for the ones you want. Not easy as pollinators really like squash blossoms. I would focus on just one line and select the best from the middle of the patch.
    Generally lines are developed, one line in 1 place and another quite some distance away. or as a single cross, F1, from 2 very different lines in adjoining rows, cut all male flowers from the fruit line and select seeds from the chosen fruit line. Other wise, every fruiting will be a surprise event…pg

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    Thanks!

    I have some spaghetti squash seeds…

    Oh, and good thing I like surprises ;-)

    Yeah, the bees do mix things up pretty good… I have another interesting ‘mule’ that is a fist sized lime green oblate spheroid from a cross of a lime green patty pan with something else in the garden that year. Haven’t grown it out in a few year though ;-)

    Gardening is very different from market growing. I can always eat my mistakes ;-)

  3. Quail says:

    Hi E.M,
    Here is a link to a squash and tomato breeder in Sunol Ag Park. They will start selling the Terremoto squash soon. Give them a call. Sometimes they have tours or open houses. It is worth the visit.
    http://www.baianicchia.blogspot.com/2014/11/terremoto-squash-landrace.html

  4. E.M.Smith says:

    @Quail:

    Ah, love it… a soul like my own. Willing to ‘work with what the squash wants’ and has an open heart for variation in the mix. Nuding it gently in the desired direction, but if it ‘walks on the wilde side’ with some stranger, well, just keep on selecting and as often as not you can find something better in the mix…. (Oddly like my own ancestry… as I’ve often said “For most of the last 1000 years most of my ancestors were trying to kill each other”…)

    I’ve been thinking about the Aussy squash… so knowing it is ‘near’ and that they have done some local adaptation is a nice feature.

    Nice. Just very nice.

  5. Graeme No.3 says:

    Triamble pumpkin, as it is called down here, has been around for at least 60 years. Not so common now as the Supermarkets have different ideas (mostly Queensland Blue). Same with the third variety old time local variety Ironbark. The latter is definitely not a summer squash type; very hard skin and great keeping qualities. Can get you seeds if you want some.

    Have you tried round zucchini e.g. Rondo de Nice and other names? Pretty insipid without garlic, butter, oregano, pepper, onions etc. so probably what you don’t want.
    I will be planting some miniature Turk’s Turban this summer. Got the seeds from Europe and as far as I can tell they may be different to those sold in the USA, in that they are closer in colours to the original, whereas the type available in the USA appears to be all red top

    Turk’s Turban was one of the original pumpkins (winter squash as you know them) planted in New South Wales after settlement. Claimed to have been planted in 1824 in garden of large house on the shore of Sydney Harbour and one of the ancestors of the australian pumpkins.

  6. E.M.Smith says:

    @Graeme No3:

    I have both ronde du Nice and the American named “8 ball” that seems the same to me but maybe a bit darker. Grew nicely in a tub. Definitely needs butter and spice… but like it…

    There are local suppliers of the Austrailian seeds, so I can get them there. Thanks for the offer! California has some strong paranoia about Ag imports too…

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Had an idea… Zucchini are harvested at 1/3 or less of full size, and make a hard shell at full size, which implies winter squash as a summer sustitute also ought to be harvested at about 1/3 sized. Tested it on a Carnival squash and it worked well. Though that squash was very small… Which further implies I want a winter squash of about 18 inch (large!) to work best as a summer harvest… I think I’ll try Pink Banana next year…

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    Well I prefer spaghetti, mature size about 12 inches, goose egg to fist size. Before seeds develop and skin toughens. So your sizing is about right. Basically after the bloom is done and about to fall off.
    Banana might work, they get to be of fair size right after bloom and their skin is slow to harden. The quality of the flesh of the mature squash is not great and their storage life is somewhat short. but they do get to be quite large. Not sure you can even give one away. People will accept a Butternut with a real smile. ;-), Spaghetti squash is a maybe. …pg

  9. Quail says:

    @EM
    Have you heard of the Heirloom Expo? It is this coming week in Santa Rosa: http://theheirloomexpo.com/
    Vendors with rare seeds, heirloom plants, rare fruit growers, lecturers, heirloom animals, odd food. Towers of pumpkins, loads of squash, melons, tomatoes.
    SO much fun!
    Quail

  10. E.M.Smith says:

    @Quail:

    Golly! Guess I’m gonna hafta hit the bank for some seed money ;-)

    Looks like fun!

    @P.G.:

    First squash I ever grew was a Pink Banana and I have a fondness for them because of that. I was about 4 years old and Dad was planting a small garden. It was the first time I was exposed to growing things and eating them. He set me up with a small plot by the back step. It seemed like an eternity as that thing grew from “small” to “big” to “giant” to “almost as big as a 4 year old”!

    I think Dad chose that particular squash for just that reason. Knowing it would end up about 1/2 to 3/4 of my size. I still have an intense visual memory of the growing plant, the harvest, and being in the kitchen with Mum as we carved it up for cooking…

    Oddly, to me, Butternut has a strong kind of ‘funky’ taste effect in comparison to the sweet smoothness of other squash. Then again, I’m something of a ‘supertaster’. ( Shrink called it being an “Augmenter” during the NASA exams – a tendency to have naturally very high gain on the senses… http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/handle/2027.42/29640 ) and like foods with subtle flavor profiles. ( I can eat hot tacos with salsa with the best of them, but the flavor is all blown out and all that’s happening is showing macho tolerance for pain receptors firing). So “low flavor” is often “plenty of flavor” to my taste buds.

    So I’ve tried Butternut a couple of times, and it’s not what I’d call ‘bad’, but it wants some kind of moderator like cream and brown sugar to cut the taste back a bit and mellow it. Where banana squash is ‘good to go’ with just a pat of butter. (Though mature Zucchini cooked like a winter squash just tastes like wet mush…)

    Had a spaghetti squash about 2 week back and saved the seeds. Like the squash, but don’t really care about the ‘spaghetti’ physical trait, so as a summer squash analog I can see it working well. I plan to put some of them in next year too. (Bit late now ;-)

    So at this point my next year squash plan is:

    Banana Squash trial (to see if reality now matches fond nostalgia of 50+ years ago ;-)
    Spaghetti Squash as summer squash and with ‘excess’ allowed to run to seed / winter use.
    Acorn / Carnival Mule experiment. Love the look of the Carnival mules of this year, but would like to get some of that green acorn richness into it. We’ll see. Production was good too.

    And then maybe, just maybe, an 8-Ball squash in a tub ‘out front’ as they grow well in a container and it is far from everything else… I trialed Crushaw this year and did “OK I guess” as they were planted late and didn’t get as mature as desired, but produced good seeds. (Next year I may go for more production and less seed multiplication). It is a ‘mixta’ type (now renamed ‘silver something’ in latin) so doesn’t cross with most of the Maxima and Pepo people grow. Keeping the “8 Ball” out of the Carnival / Acorn isn’t easy as the front and back have same bees… Banana is a Maxima IIRC so “safe” from crossing with the rest. Spaghetti is a Pepo too, I think, so keeping it out of the others will be a challenge… Well, maybe time separation… the Pepos are fast and the season here is long…

    Oh, and while I theoretically care about storage life… the problem is letting things age to best flavor and not eating them all too fast ;-) Small garden, but big tummy… ;-)

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