Thursday, August 6, 2015

Squash Progress Report

I'm really pleased with how the winter squash are progressing at the moment. Here's a look at the two varieties that I'm growing. The trellis on the left is supporting (to a degree) Candystick Dessert Delicata and the trellis on the right is doing a better job of containing the more restrained growth of Honey Nut Butternut. I gave up trying to train the Delicata up the front of the trellis and am letting the vines scramble across the bed where the garlic used to be. Both varieties are also allowed some path space as well

For some reason I thought that Delicata squash were not rampant vines so I thought I could train them up a trellis. My mistake, these vines are crazy vigorous growers. I did manage to train enough vines up the back side of the trellis to keep the path passable, for the moment.

Candystick Dessert Delicata
That's four plants growing at the base of the trellis.

Here's what they looked like on June 29. It's a bit mind boggling how much they've grown in a little over 5 weeks.

They are blooming like crazy and starting to set a number of squash.

I can't wait to try these, here's an excerpt from Carol Deppe's description -  "... a rich complex flavor reminiscent of Medjool dates. Flesh as thick or thicker and fruits as big or bigger than all other delicata lines. Absolutely no bitter contamination as is a problem in many delicata lines. Fruits up to 3 lbs. Tan and green striped fruits range from loaf to longer shapes, often on the same plant. I think this is the most vigorous and most productive delicata in existence as well as having the best flavor."

You can read the rest of Carol's description on her website. She's one of the breeders that developed this variety. If you're interested, listen to this podcast in which she's interviewed about her seed breeding efforts, she talks about why and how she developed this line of squash. She offers seeds through her website but only for a limited time each year. I got my seeds through Adaptive Seeds.

Delicata blossoms (with cucumber beetle)

The other winter squash I'm growing is Honey Nut Butternut, back for a second year. I only got a few squash last year and they weren't very large, but they were so tasty that I decided to give them a try again this year. What I didn't realize last year was how extensively the bed that the squash were in had been invaded by oak tree roots. The competition for water and nutrients must have been fierce and I'm amazed that those vines produced anything.

Honey Nut Butternut
The vines this year are much more vigorous and producing lots more flowers and squash. This squash was bred to be grown in small spaces and is well suited to being trained up a trellis or fence. Indeed, it has not been very difficult to keep them going up the trellis and out of the other side of the bed. I did let a few vines trail along in the path but it doesn't seem that they will overwhelm the space. That's four plants growing at the base of the trellis.

One of the reasons I tried this variety to begin with is the petite size of the squash. They are described as "individual" sized and usually about 1 pound. These seem like they might be a bit heavier than a pound but it's hard to judge while they are still on the vine. Even so, I think one per person might be a bit much, last year the largest ones for the two of us were perfect. It is really nice to use one squash and not have to deal with extra.

They are good keepers also, mine kept at cool room temperature until early spring. And the vines seem to be pretty resistant to powdery mildew which is important in my garden where that disease runs rampant.

The other squashes that I'm growing are summer squash. Here's the Tromba D'Albenga squash growing up a trellis. I've only got two plants to keep production to a manageable level.
Tromba D'Albenga
These started to produce just recently.

And just in time. The normally extremely resilient Romanesco zucchini is going into a quick decline. It's going to be much easier to consign this Romanesco to the compost.

Romanesco zucchini


  1. I wish I could grow varieties like Delicata. But anything that can be taken down by a squash vine borer will be. I stick to the moschatas that can live. However I do love my large squashes. The three pounds squash for me is good as I often cook up a large batch of puree to freeze.

  2. I read your first sentence and I was immediately jealous. Then the photos...more jealousy. The delicate squash sounds incredible. Can't wait to see what your opinion is...that description seems to be a lot to live up to. And I like the idea of the small butternuts; my Waltham butternut is not doing too badly in terms of size - it's definitely the largest squash plant that I've ever grown. Now if only the tiny fruits would size up so that I can actually get a harvest from it.

  3. Oh my, your squashes are so lush! I'm growing four varieties of squash on my garden this season, but they still so young. I hope mine will grow so lush like as yours.

  4. It is interesting that your butternuts are dark green. I swear, mine went from lime-colored to blond in a wink.

  5. Fantastic looking plants! I had to google the mature version of the honey nut butternut as I wondered about the colouring ... so much darker than what I normally expect from butternut. I agree it is nice to have a squash that can be eaten without so much leftover!

  6. I admire your attempts to "train" the squash. To grow them in raised beds I would have to do that, and I haven't tried. I have a Chinese gardener as a neighbor in the garden who constructs elaborate trellises to train some kind of Chinese squash and supports the squash with cloth slings. It is impressive to see.

  7. Look at those squashes. Some of them are so big. I tried to train my zucchini a few years back and I failed however I found cucumbers were much more suited to climbing


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