Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Squashing the harvest


Did you know that the word squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means “eaten raw or uncooked?”

And did you know there are more than 100 varieties of squash – some of them categorized as summer and others winter, which are broken down into edible and inedible?

Or that squash – which are really fruit – are full of antioxidants, low in calories and are an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber and other important vitamins and minerals?

If you answered yes to these questions, then clearly you are a squash savant, a gourd guru or a butternut nut. I am none of these but am glad that we only planted six different varieties in our garden this year. Because after our fall Cucurbitaceae family harvest, any more varieties would have had us seeking a new building permit just for storage.

The first wild squash appeared in Mexco about 100,000 years ago and they have been cultivated for more than 8,000 years – which seems about the same number that we harvested last week or the number of days it will take us to enjoy the crop.

Officially our squash plants this year were zucchini and crookneck – our summer squashes – and acorn, buttercup, butternut and delicata for our winter squash. Technically pumpkins also are a squash so you can add that as the seventh.

I wasn’t in the seventh heaven when my wife Sherry decided that it was time to harvest not only all of the squash but also the melons. We’ve been eating melons for a few weeks and some of them were moving into the overripe stage. But our abundant fruits were indeed a blessing, so I tried to move from grumbling to grateful as I pushed eight wheelbarrows from the garden to the house.

The first trip was the melons, which were mainly watermelons. The honeydews just didn’t do as well, which was noted by Sherry when she remarked that I should take a picture and comment that those honeydews were about as equally successful as my attempts to complete her seasonal honey-dos.

The melons filled one of our spare refrigerators in the basement that normally has a higher priority use – beer. Never fear – I had already moved that to another refrigerator for protection. Man cannot live on melons or squash alone.

The rest of the winter squash was hauled to one of our porches to cure and harden off. They are protected there from any light frost and can always be covered with a blanket if we have a really cold night.

The harvest season isn’t quite done. There are still potatoes, onions, leeks and beets to dig – which may be easier after a hard frost takes down some of the weeds.

While the squadron of squash looks impressive, before long it will need to be moved to more permanent headquarters inside. Winter squash can last for months when stored at cool temperatures. Or we will need to organize a marathon squash baking day and put a bunch in the freezer.

I can hardly wait.

Buckle up, buttercup.

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