My Last Winter Squash Harvest Of 2017

Golden Butternut Squash
Golden Butternut Squash

2017 was that second time in the six years that we have lived in this house where I have picked that last of my winter squash in December. In this case, December 7, 2017.  I always leave the last few winter squash for picking at the last possible moment to get as many full ripe fruits as possible.  Fortunately, I was watching my iPhone and thought the night get colder than I would like and did not want to risk my squash to a frost any longer. So, I went out into the rain and harvested my last four golden butternut squashes from my vegetable garden.  As you can see in the picture about where they are still wet from the rain.  In all, it was 42 pounds of ripe butternut squash.

Snowing in San Anontio, TX December 7th 2017.
Snowing in San Antonio, TX December 7th, 2017.

It was a good thing I did because it was snowing a couple hours later, not a common thing here in San Antonio, Texas.

I’m a little slow getting this post, but as it happens, I’m cooking one of them, smaller for seed, ten pounders today, which got me thinking about the December harvest.

Winter Squash – Waltham Butternut

Young Waltham Butternut Squash
Young Waltham Butternut Squash

A popular winter storage squash of excellent quality. A prolific, easy to grow, delicious butternut with improved fruit uniformity and increased yields. Interior is thick rich sweet yellow-orange flesh with a nutty flavor.  A 1970 All-America Selection (AAS) seed-industry award winner. Grows well in the southern U.S.A.

Classification

  • Winter Squash

Days To Maturity

  • 80-110

Fruit Size

  • average 8” to 12″ long and 3” to 5” inches in width

Weight

  • 3-5 pounds

Skin Color

  • smooth light-Buff/Tan

Habit

  • Vines grow to 6 feet, producing 4-5 squash per plant.

Seed Planting Depth

  • 1 inch

Seeds Per group

  • 6-8

Seed Spacing Within A Group

  • 3 inches

Spacing Between Hills

  • 4-6 feet

Day To Germination

  • 10-14 days

Thin To (Plants Per Hill)

  • 2-3 plants

Heirloom

  • No

Year Introduced

  • 1970

Species

  • Cucurbita

Genus

  • Moschata

 Resistance

  • Excellent resistance to vine borers.

Usage

  • Edible – Excellent food qualities

Storage

  • Good Keeper

Space Saver

  • Pick young and small to use as summer squash

Related References

Winter Squash – Sweet Dumpling

Winter Squash, Sweet Dumpling (C.Pepo)
Winter Squash, Sweet Dumpling (C.Pepo)

Sweet Dumpling is a very sweet, tender orange flesh and a acornish shape with ivory skin with dark green stripes. The Sweet dumpling has pale orange flesh About the perfect size for having and filling with a meat stuffing for a nice two-person meal starter.

Species

Cucurbita

Genus

Pepo

Classification

Squash

Family

Acorn

Days To Maturity

100-110 days

Fruit Size

A small to medium sized squash ranging in diameter from 5 to 7 inches.

Weight

¾ to 1 lb

Skin Color

Ivory skin with dark green stripes

Habit

Medium length vines

Seed Depth

½ – 1″

Seeds Per group

4 -6

Seed Spacing

6″

Space Between Hills

4 – 6′

Day To Germination

7 – 14

Thin To (Plants Per hill)

2

Year Introduced

1976

Heirloom

No

Resistance

Unknown

Usage

Edible – Very good food qualities

Storage

Good Keeper

Space Saver

Can be planted in your landscaping or in a very large pot.  Also, can be grown vertically.

Substitution

substitutes for Acorn or carnival

Related References

Growing Winter Squash and Pumpkins Vertically

Winter Squash Grown Vertically
Winter Squash Grown Vertically

Growing winter squash and pumpkins vertically can save garden space and help to fight pests.  To grow squash vertically, here a few simple tips to follow:

  • Choosing the correct seed is the best place to begin. To grow squash Vertically choose squash that has a vining habit (sometimes called trailing) and produce small fruit; two pounds or less is recommended. Growing squash that can grow to a hundred pounds or more would be hard to accommodate when building the structure to be climbed and would break from the vines before mature.
  • Site and climbing structure should be properly prepared. The climbing structure should be strong enough to withstand strong winds and the weight of the squash as they reach maturity.
  • The soil needs to be well worked and mounded to allow soil based watering methods, such as trench or soaker hose and provides adequate drainage.
  • The grooming method needs to be adapted to encourage the growth of several small fruits. Many gardeners recommend removing fruit and leaving only one or two on each vine; thus, encouraging a few large fruits.  When growing vertically we want to encourage the growth of numerous small fruit, which will be less likely to tear the vines down or fall off the vine.
  • As squash grow larger and providing additional support for the fruit may be desirable to prevent the fruit from tearing themselves from the vine before mature or falling to earth and breaking or being bruised.
  • With some early maturing varieties picking of fruit may be necessary as the fruit becomes fully mature to reduce weight in the vine and to encourage the vine to produce more fruit. Care should be taken to ensure the fruit is fully mature.

Climatic Considerations for Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Climatic Considerations for Winter Squash and Pumpkins, c. pepo, c. maxima, c. moschata, C. argyrosperma, C. mixta
Pumpkins Outdoors in Fall

Squash is a warm-season crop. It should not be planted until the danger of frost is past. In the list below, note the species from which each variety has been selected. Some do better in certain climates and have different growing season lengths.

  • C. argyrosperma and C. mixta grow best in hot arid climates like the Southwest United States
  • C. maxima grow best in cooler northern climates, especially along coastal areas of large lakes or oceans where the growing temperature may be more consistent
  • C. moschata are best grown in southern humid climates
  • C. pepo does best in areas in climates which provide even rainfalls and temperature ranges, such as, coastal regions and the midwestern United States.

Related References

Choosing the Best Squash and Pumpkins for Your Family

Choosing the Best Squash and Pumpkins for Your Family
Pumpkin being grown Vertically

When deciding what Squash and, or Pumpkins to grow in your family’s garden consider:

  • Growing types that your family eats regularly, there is no point in growing something that may go waste. Especially, when you consider the time, water, and garden space used to produce your squash and, or pumpkins.
  • How you use the squash if you want a few squashes and/or pumpkins to eat or to be used to as a decoration. Then, perhaps growing a variety that grows to a 1,000 pound might not be the best choice.
  • How you intend to grow your squash or pumpkins. If you have limited space you may want to consider bush types, which use less space, perhaps some of the smaller varieties that can be grown vertically on trellises or incorporated into the landscaping of your home.
  • Your garden site, for example, does it have deep soil or should consider raised beds.
  • The pests and diseases common to your area and buy resistant varieties, if available.
  • The length of your growing season. If you live in a short season area purchasing an early producing variety, may improve your success.

Related References

Cool Storage of Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Cool Storage of Winter Squash and Pumpkins
Winter Squash on a shelf

Cool Storage

Perhaps, the better and most cost-effective way to keep winter squash and pumpkins is cool storage.  For cool storage to be effective the fruit must be consistently stored above freezing and the germination temperature.  Please note, Not all squash store equally well.  With that said, I have stored some varieties a winter squash so long that we have had to eat them just to make room for the New Year’s harvest.

For best results:

  • cure in warm area squash or pumpkins for a week to 10 days,
  • clean off dirt with a damp soft cloth,
  • with a second clean soft cloth wash with 1 cup vinegar to one gallon of water, and allow the skin to dry completely before storage.
  • Store in a cool (40-550 F), dry place to prevent shrivel, lose weight, and to postpone spoilage as long as possible.
  • Position the fruit so that the fruit is not touching one another and so that air can flow freely around the fruit.
  • I recommend placing as many of the fruit where they can be easily seen, for easy inspection for signs for an impending loss. The sweetness and quality of squash or pumpkins often improve, if cured for 2 to 4 weeks, or more in storage.

Where to Store Squash and Pumpkins

where to store your squash is a little less important provided the required temperatures can be maintained. Some of the more common places are root cellars, pantries, basements. Just about any place with a cool constant temperature within the ranges required will do. However, it’s best if it’s a place that’s convenient and semi-protected. You don’t want your squash to be damaged by kids playing or by having to crawl over them to get to something important which might beast stored above are behind them. Perhaps, my favorite throughout the years has been the root cellar I grew up with them in Oregon and I’ve long appreciated their value for storing vegetables of all types including winter squash for long periods of time to do the harshest weather during winter. I have, in places like Virginia and Minnesota, used the basement of the home in which I lived. Pantries can be a little more problematic for a couple of reasons. First, having sufficient space to store all the pumpkins and squash growing volumes at my gardens produce. Second, my pantries are usually attached to the house and tend not to read to retain a constant cool temperature.

Is your storage location too warm?

The best way to tell if your storage location is too warm, other than a thermometer, is that when you break open the squash, if you see seeds that have sprouted, then your storage area is too warm the seeds are germinating.