As Go the Seasons, So Do the Squash

Recently, I took a trip to visit our winter squash patch. Since squash consume so much space, we partnered with Garden Farme in Ramsey to grow summer and winter squash in a more spacious, rural plot. Garden Farme is run by Bruce Bacon (and has been for many, many years) and is a staple of the local permaculture community. The farm produces annual vegetables and herbs to many Minneapolis restaurants. Bruce and his farm have served as sources of experience and wisdom as well as a working example of what we are aiming to accomplish on our urban garden.

We’ve been harvesting pretty substantial amounts of patty pan and rond d’nice summer squash throughout the season, battling persistent lambsquarters and squash bugs. Early on, we applied a thick hay mulch to keep weed pressure down and to hold in as much moisture as possible in the soil. At this point the summer squash is basically done, though there might be a few patty pans to grab later on but not much. Summer’s over anyway, so bring on that sweet winter squash!

Considering the sudden onslaught of drought, our winter squash are looking quite nice as of my visit this past Sunday. Bruce doesn’t have any irrigation that runs out to the squash patch, so the mulch has helped immensely. Upon my arrival, Bruce had already counted 17 drops of rain, which we hoped could be our saving grace! (It actually drizzled for quite a while at the farm, but nothing very significant).

The acorns are dying off the soonest whether from drought or another reason, while the rest of the patch remains relatively green.

The acorns are dying off the soonest whether from drought or another reason, while the rest of the patch remains relatively green.

Our squash patch is nested between two others, one Bruce’s own patch of winter squash, and the other a patch of mainly summer squash for CSA based in Minneapolis. Our patch seemed to look at least or more productive than the neighboring two squash patches for whatever reason, though we each grew different varieties. Earlier on this season, all of our patches were attacked pretty heavily by squash bugs, though ours and Garden Farme’s not quite as bad as the CSA’s. The owners of that patch decided to try and organic certified pesticide to hopefully save their harvest. At this point, its hard to tell exactly how effective the pesticide was without asking them about their observations. However, I’m inclined to say that our plot was not any worse off for not applying pesticide.

Soon we will have a nice harvest of winter squash to bring back to the farm and restaurants. The yellow acorns seemed to do the best, but the plants are also dying off more quickly; this could be due to lack of water, or perhaps are simply done producing. The butternuts were also productive but range quite a lot in size with many being smaller than ideal. We also have buttercups and another large warty looking squash the name of which I know not, the plants have good sized fruit on them which should ripen nicely, sweetening as the weather turns colder. Bruce doesn’t think anything will get much bigger at this point in the season, especially without water. He plans to leave Garden Farme’s squash on the vine for a while yet, until the plants die back. Since a lot of our vines are still green we probably have some weeks to wait as well. Despite the climatic roller coaster of this season, I’m personally sensing fall arriving right on time. While it signifies the end of our growing season, it also gives us a chance to look at all we’ve accomplished on our farm, a chance to enjoy the late season bounty, and the chance to make butternut squash soup. Lots of butternut squash soup.

-Farm Apprentice Nick

Many butternuts of many different sizes.

Many butternuts of many different sizes.

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Yellow Acorns

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