Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sometimes, You Have an Imposter!

With winter squash, you have to be careful. These guys do not follow the rules. They WILL move over into someone else's territory! Last year, we had too many seeds and not enough room. And we had some new varieties we just had to try. We tried them and they did fairly well. But we had a couple of problems!

The first problem was summer squash. We planted Costata Romanesco.(SouthernExposure Seed Exchange - Costata Romanesca Summer Squash 3 g. Retail Price: $2.75 (C. pepo) 62 days. This Italian heirloom zucchini is favored for flavor. Fruits remain tender even at 18 in.; best picked at 12 in. Heavily ribbed fruits are striped with alternating light and dark green shades. Hardy vines grow larger than other summer squash. Pkt.)

I must agree with their description! This Italian heirloom has great flavor. It was exceptional, even at larger sizes. Johnny's Selected Seeds says only half the yield of hybrids, but much better flavor. That is true. But who needs that yield? We know how summer squash yields. Lower yield, greater flavor! That's for me. If you want greater yield, plant more. 

Juvenile Costata Romanesco
Fruit remains tender, even at larger sizes. True! And they reach that size quickly. Does this make up for the lower yield? Pound wise, I think it does. And definitely in the flavor department. The larger sizes were not any kind of problem. I don't think we had one oversize reject. Even in larger sizes, they were quite acceptable. Especially, on the table!

The colors varied, but were shades of dark and light, with slight ribs. We thought they were quite beautiful.

Hardy vines grow larger than other summer squash. Ahh! That is where the problems started! The plants/vines were beautiful with LARGE, lacy, feathered leaves. And they got there quickly! They had large vines, twice or more larger than Zucchini/summer squash! And the growth rate! They grew so fast! They overwhelmed everything in their path. Like I said, we had excess seeds and shortage of space. They overwhelmed the cucumbers, the Ronde de Nice, the Thelma Sanders Squash [acorn],  Potimarron, Guatemalan Blue Squash, the Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash and the Australian Butter Squash. They almost got the tomatoes. But they kicked it into high gear and got out above them. And then, out from under the Costata, came some measly vines. Very pathetic. But they struggled and made their way out. Over time, they seemed to gain some energy. They started to looking like they might make it. And then they took off like winter squash should do.
They are going somewhere!
These winter squash got to growing. They had time to make up for. And revenge was on their plate!!! Once they got out from under the Costata and got to growing, they turned around and focused all that pent up anger on those oppressors of the big and mighty! They turned and and attacked those oppressors as only a mighty winter squash can!And almost overnight, they were on top of them! And the fight was on. The Costata had no chance. They had lost their advantage. The big and mighty were in for the kill. And they did. It didn't take long. I won't bore you with the bloody details. Suffice it to say: It was a short battle and death was quick in coming. And the victors were the soul survivors left standing on the field of battle. And now, it was on to their destiny!

They continued to grow as only winter squash do. But, they had been delayed by the battle. We had a good yield, but it could have been better. Winter and frost were coming too soon. We had twenty foot plus vines, but fewer fruit and not enough time to mature.

We had a frost warning. We went out and stripped the vines. Mature and immature fruit all came in. The vines had gone everywhere. We didn't know who's vine was who. We had to look at the fruit and narrow it down.

Assorted Squash harvested before frost.

The Pennsylvania Crook Neck weren't hard to identify. They were an oversized Butternut with a crooked neck. Unless they were growing on the tomato trellis and hanging down. Then, they were straight. They have a large bulb like Butternut, only bigger. This is where the seeds are. The neck is fifteen to twenty inches long and up to five inches across. Of solid meat. No seeds. No cavity.

The Pink Banana and the Candyroaster got married and set up housekeeping. They were one. Inseparable. You didn't know who was who. Until today, we still didn't know who was who. They were intertwined.

Pennsylvania Dutch Crookneck Winter Squash - (
C. moschata) 102 days. [PA Heirloom] Similar to butternuts, but with much longer necks. Tan skin and deep orange flesh with great flavor. Seeds are in the bulb end of the squash, so slicing up the long neck is fast and easy work in the kitchen. Vigorous vines, impressive yields even in 2013's cold, wet summers. Good keepers. (Southern Exposure Seed Exchange)

HEIRLOOM CANDYROASTER Many people growing up in the mountains of North Georgia, Western North Carolina, and East Tennessee never ate pumpkin pies.  Their families grew pumpkins for jack-o-lanterns or for animal feed, but they themselves ate candyroasters.  Candyroasters are an excellent winter squash most likely from the Cherokee Indians. The candyroaster seeds we have for sale are from those grown in Haywood County, NC. Many people consider candyroasters a delicacy. They can weigh up to fifty pounds and more and can be over four feet long. (Sustainable MountainAgriculture Center Inc.)

Jumbo Pink Banana:  100 days.  (C. maxima) Large, pink skinned fruits with excellent quality flesh (moist and sweet). While they never get as big here in the Midwest due to the insects and disease, I've seen specimens top 100 pounds when I lived out West.(Sand Hill Preservation Center )

We brought everyone into the house. We have a back bedroom that we don't heat or air-condition. It is where we store our canning – and the squash. Some of the fruits were mature. Several weren't. Fiona tried fixing some of the immature fruits. They were like large zucchini. No hard seeds. They stood up to stir-frying with no problems. The flesh was more dense than regular zucchini. And tasted wonderful. To us, they were late zucchini. To replace the ones that died in the fierce battle out on the back forty (feet). One of the Crooknecks wasn't green, but appeared to be immature. We put it in the back room. It survived. We just took it out and it was fine. It finished maturing and curing. The immature fruit went into storage in there and were watched. We checked them frequently. And we eat them until they were all gone. We kept a watch on everyone. In February, we lost one squash. That was the only one all winter long. 

This was the week. Fiona got out her potato peeler and went to work. The squash started coming out of the back room. Everyone was in great shape. Even with the high temperatures and this late into the year/summer. She used the potato peeler to take off the rind. It worked great. She saved the seeds. We have seeds to go into the freezer for growing in the coming years. They have to dry first. All of the fruits were in great shape and very moist. The Crookneck went first. Fiona cubed the meat and put it into quart freezer bags. She had sixteen quart bags of Crookneck that went into the freezer. The untouched Crookneck weighed about twelve to fifteen pounds each, before cutting. There were four of them.

This "Crookneck" grew on the tomato Stake and plants...about 4 feet off the ground!

The Pink Banana went next. They weighed about fifteen pounds to twenty pounds each. There were three of them left. She got twelve quart freezer bags of them. There was a lower yield from them because they had a larger seed cavity and more rind (because of the larger overall size of the squash). The Pink Banana is sweeter than a Butternut and Fiona adds them at the end of cooking time in stews, etc. because they cook up so quick. They are really nice mashed with butter.

And then today came for the last Pink Banana. Shortly after Fiona started peeling, I asked her if she had gotten a cantaloupe. She said no. I said that I smelled cantaloupe. She said it was the squash she was peeling. It didn't make sense. We got to talking. We reached the conclusion that we had gotten a Candyroaster, after all. We reflected that the color was a little different from the other Pink Banana. Its shape was a little more blunt. It wasn't pink. 


It had a more dense, firmer flesh the the other Pink Banana. And the seeds laid different in the seed cavity – and they came out much easier. And then there was that smell! It was so close to a Pink Banana in appearance, but we think we have an imposter. A very nice imposter! There were eight quart freezer bags of the imposter. Candyroaster??? We think so. We have more Candyroaster seed. We will be planting both when we get a chance! 

Squash Seed for our Seed Bank.

If you have the room for winter squash – Plant them!!! They are wonderful. And so nutritious. And so easy to save/keep. Fiona adds them at the end of cook time on many recipes for that added nutrition and flavor. We definitely want more of them! 

 1 cup of cooked winter squash = 76 calories

 vitamin A59%

 vitamin C26%






 vitamin K10%

Enjoy your garden and all it brings you...



  1. Our buttercup and Cushaw winter squash plants are well on their way to filling in the area we left for them to vine out and cover up. When the length of the vine approaches the edge of their assigned area, we cut the vine which encourages them to bush out on the ends. We regularly re-aim the ends of the vines in the direction we want them to go. We are very hopeful of a good harvest this year since last year was very dismal. Thank you for the information.


    1. We turned back our squash too....then we just decided to let them have "Fun". We really do like the versatile nature of these vegetables...the scraps will be good for chickens and I think with a big crop the squash themselves would add to the diet of the poultry.

  2. Squash always seem to grow well. I usually just plant one or two zucchini plants. They always produce more than we think they will. You harvested some interesting squash!