Wednesday, 26 August 2009

squash: crown prince

Squash look like pumpkins - but with the huge advantage of tasting fabulous.

We have planted Butternut squash most years and sometimes had outstanding results with many squash stored by the autumn.

Mike introduced us to Crown Prince last year - we ate it and wanted more! So, this year, along with Butternut, we planted Crown Prince. The skin, when ripe, is a lovely duck egg blue, and when cut, the flesh is an exquisite orange.

Both squashes have been planted into rotting leaves retained with straw bales. A large hole was dug out of the leaves and filled with compost before the squash (carefully brought on in the greenhouse at home) were planted out. We added organic granulated chicken manure pellets to give the young plants an extra boost.

Spare squash plants were dotted among the sweetcorn and climbing beans to create the 'three sisters' bed.

The wet weather this summer meant that squashes have got very little watering from us. The foliage of the two squash varieties has filled the planting areas completely and is snaking through and up the sweetcorn creating a marvellous jungle effect. No plants are suffering from mildew so far.

It is often the case that one variety thrives one year, while another variety of the same species fails to. This year, the Crown Prince have flourished - while many of the Butternut squash fruits have succumbed to a virus. The Butternut fruits have grown, but then turned a withered, chocolate brown.

So, this demonstrates that it makes good sense not to 'put all your eggs in one basket' and plant a number of varieties. If we had relied solely on Butternut we would have had a miserable harvest!

Next year, we will also look out for another Mike hot tip - 'Nutty Delica'. Another squash variety he rates highly courtesy of Joy Larkham.

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