Questions About Winter Squash

My winter squash are still alive, which is exciting! But since I’ve never made it this far with winter squash before, I’m starting to have a few questions. Here’s the plant that’s making me turn to the internet for answers, and a few notes on what I’ve learned so far.

This is a ‘White Cushaw’ squash, also sometimes called a ‘Jonathan Pumpkin.’ Just a little over a week ago it looked like this:

White Cushaw 2.jpg

And then, a week later, we had this:

Winter Squash

Notice that the squash is on the ground now. The trellis supporting it collapsed. (Who knew it would grow so fast?)

And that made me start wondering: How do you know when the squash is ripe? It’s already huge. Is it possibly ready now? Because after all, with summer squash, you can pick them at any point, and preferably you harvest them before they get too big.

I turned to the internet, and the collective wisdom of various gardening sites all said: “NOT YET.” Apparently, you wait for any of a number of signals: the color develops, the rind is hard, and/or the vines die back. So, not there yet.

But while I was on the subject, I also started looking for answers to another question: How many squash can I hope to get from each plant? So far, I have two plants, with one squash each. Is that normal?

I read a little about the squash in general, but for specifics on yield, I went to the customer reviews posted on rareseeds.com, where I bought the seeds. What I took away is that one squash per plant is not uncommon, although some people do get a lot more than that. And the final size? While some people are harvesting 20 pound fruits, others report getting up to 40 lb squash!

That’s all great, but I would settle for one ripe winter squash of any size. Knocking on wood and hoping the squash plants continue to thrive!

Sunflower Update

I’m really enjoying having sunflowers in my garden this year. These flowers are over 10 feet tall, and I hope we’re eventually able to harvest some seeds. Here are a few recent photos of what’s happening with these huge flowers.

Bee and Sunflower 3.jpg

For about a week, bees were all over the flowers. This looks like it was taken at eye level, but only because of the angle and the fact that the photo was taken with a telephoto lens: The actual bee was way over my head.

 

Sunflower 3.jpg

Also, during that time, I think the sunflowers had some oddly human expressions. I look at this photo and think “Gasp!” Doesn’t it look surprised?

 

Sideways Sunflower.jpg

But, we’re now past that stage, with the sunflower petals withering and the heads all flopping over, so that they face the ground. This development is not especially attractive in an ornamental plant, but exciting if you’re growing sunflowers for the seeds. They’re not ready yet, but even here you can get a sense of the seeds forming under each little yellow flower.

Kale Haircut

The kale I planted early this spring is still hanging on, but there was a point where we were out of town in July and the cabbageworm party got a little out of control. The leaves were all so damaged, that I went ahead and cut almost all of them off, knowing that the plants would sprout new leaves. So far, so good! Here’s a photo of the plant sprouting new leaves from a week or so ago.

Kale Haircut

I need to stay on top of it though. Here’s a picture from today. Time to hand pick some more worms!

Kale Haircut 2

Really Big Squash Blossoms

Vertical photos don’t fit very neatly into a blog post, but I like these squash blossoms so much, I’m going to go ahead and post them anyway. These are blossoms from the ‘White Cushaw’ winter squash. They’re astonishingly large compared to the summer squash blossoms I’ve been seeing this summer:These flowers are almost as large as the squash leaves. (You can get the best sense of scale in the last photo.)

Blossom

White Cushaw Vertical

Vertical Squash 3.jpg

 

Really Big Sunflowers

This aptly named plant is a ‘Titan’ sunflower, and it grows to over 12 feet! This year I have several of these sunflowers towering over my vegetable garden. The seeds are also supposed to be especially big, so looking forward to seeing those.

Sunflower 2

Three Sisters 2016: August Update

This year I’m growing a three sisters gardenĀ  bed with corns, beans and squash planted together. And, it’s starting to look pretty good! Here are a few photos.

Three-Sisters-Update-Small

In the photo above, you can see all three plants doing more or less what they’re supposed to do. The beans are using the corn stalks as a trellis, while the squash plants fill in around the corn and beans.

KWB 2 Three Sisters.jpg

I don’t have any actual beans yet, they’re much later than last year. However, the plants look strong and are starting to flower. These are ‘Kentucky Wonder’ beans, which are usually eaten fresh, but can also be dried and used as a shell bean.

Squash Three Sisters.jpg

Meanwhile, for the winter squash, I have a lot of squash blossoms and a few recognizable squash fruits on the vine. Here’s the largest one so far. This is a variety called ‘White Cushaw.’ One reason I chose it is that it’s supposed to have good resistance to squash bugs. It must, because it’s still alive.

Green Corn.jpg

And finally, here’s the corn, which I just started harvesting today. Don’t worry, it’s supposed to be green. This is ‘Oaxacan Green’ corn, and it’s a kind of grain corn, so the end goal is to make some really odd looking -but tasty!-corn bread.

Cherry Tomato Color Mix

In general, my full-sized tomatoes are not looking too promising this year, but the cherry tomatoes are looking pretty good, so let’s focus on that! As in past years, I’ve planted a mix of colors, because they’re just so pretty that way. These are ‘Jasper’ (red), ‘Sun Gold’ (orange), and ‘White Cherry (light yellow.)

Cherry Tomato Blend.jpg