Genuine Faux Farm

 

 


WINTER SQUASH


 

Storage: Store after curing (off vine, but outdoors for 5-7 days to toughen skin). 50 to 55 degrees F at 50-75% humidity and good air circulation. Squash should not be allowed to be frozen. If they do freeze, you must watch for imprefections to develop. Any fruit with imperfections on the skin should be eaten first. We successfully store our winter squash in the unheated basement so that we can have squash as late as March/April.

Preparation: Cut the squash in half and place open face down in baking pan. A little water on the bottom of the pan helps maintain some moisture in the fruit. Alternately, one can scoop the flesh out of the two halves and bake without the skin. Squash can be served in a fashion similar to potatoes, with a little bit of butter. Some people enjoy brown sugar on squash. Smaller squash may be served in the skin, allowing it to serve as a 'bowl.'

Check our recipe pages for more ideas!

 

Freezing: Prepare as above and scoop the cooked flesh out of the skin into freezer bags once it is cool. Seal and place in the freezer. You may choose to undercook the squash slightly so that it will be firmer when you choose to use it later.


VARIETY DESCRIPTIONS


Vegetable Spaghetti Squash

Skin is ivory, changing to golden yellow at maturity. Oblong fruit range from three to six pounds in size. These store on the shorter side and should be eaten within two months of harvest. The flesh is stringy and resembles spaghetti when it is scooped out of the shell after cooking. In fact, we have found that it serves well as a pasta substitute and would be a good option for people who have dietary restrictions that eliminate pasta from their diet. Leftovers keep at least as well as normal pasta, though some of the substance is lost over time.


 

Waltham Butternut

Waltham's are light tan fruit with thick necks, orange flesh and small seed cavities. They are cylindrical in shape and average from 4 to 5 pounds. Fruit actually taste better after a couple of months of storage. Butternuts are the most widely known winter squash and are most likely the kind you have tasted if you have had squash before. Unlike other winter squash, these have solid stems and vines (c.moschata), thus they resist vine borers. These store well and routinely last until spring. We like to plant borage nearby to attract pollinators and beneficial predator bugs. If you plant a hedge of borage, it can be used to 'hem in' your vines. But, if you have a small garden, you should expect vines to surf over everything and the borage plants may be bigger than your garden can handle as well.


Marina di Chioggia

We liken these to a very large buttercup squash. These have a drier flesh with a similar taste and consistency to buttercup and are perhaps a bit nuttier in taste. We have found that insects do like to bore into these after we have harvested them and have them on the ground to cure. Thus, we now cure them off the ground. Size of fruit is variable, but quality of the flesh is uniform regardless of size. Decent for storing. Reliable to get some production nearly every year. It is very unlikely to get a tremendous number of fruit per plant. But, the quality of what you do get will leave you pleased. We will continue to grow these and will usually hold several back for our own consumption. Usually, those we have in excess are sold rather than distributed in the CSA because there are usually not enough of them to go around. And, we like them so much, it is easy to sell them.


Burgess Buttercup

burgess buttercup

If you think you do not like winter squash, then we bet you have only tried one kind. For example, Tammy will typically select a butternut type of winter squash. These are typically moist and are smooth, with very little stringiness. Many people like the acorn or spaghetti types that are stringy and they enjoy these with butter and brown sugar or maple syrup. Then, there are people like Rob, who prefer the drier flesh with a slightly nutty flavor. Storage qualities are good, but we would not rate them as good at storage as butternut. We plant nasturium, borage and marigolds nearby and find that the losses to vine borers are reduced. In fact, we had 90% loss rates prior to planting these flowers nearby. Consider remay row covers until plants flower to exclude vine borers. Obviously, you need to take the covers off to allow pollination once flowers appear. In short, production is less consistent than acorn, butternut or spaghetti squashes. But, with a good set of companion flowers and a decent weeding program, these will produce well enough in Iowa on our farm.


Amish Pie

Amish Pie pumpkins

 

This pumpkin is more of an eating pumpkin than a display pumpkin - though it looks wonderful. We have found the flesh of this pumpkin makes superior pies and can be eaten just like any other squash. We have managed to store these for up to two months after harvest, though longer would not be a surprise. Fruits frequently hit the 10 to 15 pound range, with larger fruit entirely likely. These are slightly heart shaped and are light orange with cream mottling. Amish Pie is susceptible to crop failures for any number of reasons, but sure is rewarding when it does well. We often will grow a few plants because we enjoy them so much. Now that we have more years of experience on the farm, we prefer other pie pumpkins, but we still find these to be different, beautiful and still quite useful for cooking down and storing for later use.


Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato

This IS an acorn squash. It just has a cream colored skin. Size can be slightly bigger than standard green acorns such as Table Queen, but not much bigger. These vines are very hardy. Dry year - no problem, just get them started as seedlings. Wet year - it can do that. Cool year - ok as long as you get them in on time. Hot year - it doesn't really notice. From a production standpoint, we can't do better for an acorn squash. We also like the taste of these better than standard green acorn squash. We find them to be a little less stringy. We've had them store into January, but don't expect it. It would normally be safe to save them into December. Vines crawl around a bit, but not much more than average winter squash. Easy to pick - in part because the color makes it easier to see them. We don't lose much of these to pests or other problems. We have noticed that if the stem comes off flush with the skin, you should eat that fruit sooner than those that maintain their stem.


 

Table Queen Acorn Squash

 

Introduced by the Iowa Seed Company in 1913, this variety is supposed to be descended from the Arikara tribe strain. This is an acorn type squash with dark green skin. Fruit are typically on the smaller side at 6 to 8 inches in length and tend to be pointed rather than rounded. Deep orange flesh and good for baking, especially for smaller size portions. A very good keeper, though we don't usually expect them to last much into January. This is a reliable producer with minimal special effort. Plants survive weeds, borers and squash bugs. If you want something you can get something out of no matter what - this is one choice for you. If you don't keep the grassy weeds out, you'll have a much lower harvest. And, we do find that the fruit hide better than most Winter squash. So, don't be surprised if you find one or two more out there after you think you've found them all.


 

Galeaux d'Eysines (Bumpkin)


This variety definitely prefers warmer and drier summers and dislikes wet and/or cool seasons. Crop failures are common in the latter cases. These are fun to grow and fun to display. It's just an extra bonus that they are a good squash to cook. We've had these store as late as February. The largest fruit we've grown of this variety weighed in at about 10 pounds.


Musquee de Provence

This is a beautiful heirloom pumpkin/winter squash and we think it may be the best tasting pumpkin we've ever encountered. Very bright orange flesh is excellent for pies and freezing. They have a slightly spicy flavor - not overpowering, just pleasantly so. Size of the fruit is highly variable and they must be watched carefully during a wet fall. Get them off the vine before the stem pulls off of the fruit during a wet year (like 2008). If the stem pulls off, process the fruit immediately or you will lose it. Vines aren't as susceptible to squash bugs and vine borers. But, the vines CAN wander quite a bit from their hill. You won't get too many fruit per vine, but what you get will be well worth your time.


 

Long Island Cheese

This is probably our best pie pumpkin for all around quality. Production is more consistent than Amish Pie, Musquee or Galeaux. Size is a bit more managable - with the largest approaching 10 lbs. The flesh is perfect for making pie filling. It isn't too stringy and is easy to work with. We have had a Long Island Cheese squash in the cellar as late as April. Clearly, these can last into early February with no issues. Production is consistent and they are in the same family (c.moschata) as butternuts, so are less susceptible to vine borers.


 

Kikuza

These are a smaller pie pumpkins/ winter squash that have a very nice taste and are much more managable for those who have a small family. The skin is quite hard, thus these can easily serve as an Autumn harvest display until you are ready to cook them. These have worked well in a pie as well as fresh eating. We have had these inconsistently as the seed providers have had crop failures in the past. We like these for the simple reason that we need to bring forty to seventy of them at a time for CSA Farm Share distributions. Larger squash would take too much space.


Red Kuri

This is a new introduction in 2014. We'll let you know what we think after the season is completed.


Winter Luxury

This is a new introduction in 2014. We'll let you know what we think after the season is completed.


New England Pie

new england pie pumpkin

These are highly productive vines and fairly short season, which is great for a farm like ours. Fruit average about 5 pounds and are fairly good quality for pie making. They can serve as small jack o lanterns if you would like, just don't throw away the innards, use it to make a pumpkin pie to start your Halloween season.


 

 


Discontinued Cultivars

Sibley Hubbard - An heirloom variety introduced in 1887 produces 8 to 10 pound fruits that have a slate blue colored skin. Fruit is approximately 8 inches in diameter and 10 inches long. The skin is very hard and the fruit will store very well. In fact, it is recommended that you wait until it has stored through the New Year for the best taste. We stuck with this cultivar largely because we just HAD to see how it tasted. Finally, in 2008, we managed to harvest a fine crop. Fruits DO store longer than other types. We still had some in April that year - even during a year when squash tended to store poorly. It is highly recommended that you interplant with this variety with nasturtium to reduce borer problems. It also helps to have marigolds and/or zinnia around these plants. Otherwise, we tend to lose most of the plants to pests. In fact, it is for this reason that we discontinued this variety. It may return in the future, but we only have the space to do so much.

Queensland Blue - new introduction in 2008 that we tried or a number of years. Typically, they did not produce much and we didn't feel they were worth continuing to pursue for GFF production.

Boston Marrow - another new introduction in 2008 that actually did fairly well for us. The fruit sure do stand out in the field, having a bright red/orange skin. Unfortunately, their taste was watery and no one was impressed with them. It is our understanding that this may not be representative of the variety. But, it seems that's the way they behave on our farm. Perhaps they will like a sandier soil and have a better taste.

Howden Pumpkin - the standard 'jack o lantern' pumpkin. Defined ribs and deep orange color gives it the 'Halloween' look. Can get as large as 25 pounds, though they will range anywhere from 5 to 20 pounds typically. We do not recommend using Howden as an eating pumpkin as there are varieties that are much more appropriate for this. After 2006, we agreed that we would not grow any pumpkins for purely decorative purposes. From that point on, every pumpkin/squash needed to be useful for eating as well as decoration. There are plenty of decorative pumpkin growers out there, so we will leave it to them.

Bonbon Buttercup - Smooth, deep green skin on rounded fruit that has a grey button at the base. Flesh is yellow-orange colored and fruits average 4 to 5 pounds. A new hybrid by Johnny's that is touted to have better taste and yield. Taste is sweeter after a few weeks of storage (storage must be on the dry side).

In 2006, we were able to only coax one fruit from our plants. Most were destroyed by a combination of borers, squash bugs and climatic conditions. We had better results in 2007 while interplanting with nasturtium and radish. However, we found the open-pollinated Burgess Buttercup did at least as well as Bonbon. When in doubt, we prefer to use open-pollinated varieties. We also suspect that many newer hybrids are not as hardy for the conditions we put our crops through. Unlike hybridization trials, our fields are not sprayed to control all pests, weeds do appear in our fields and we do not tend to use plastic mulch and drip irrigation. On the other hand, the fruit were quite tasty - and they tended to grow the fruit out entirely. The Burgess would sometimes stunt slightly. Bonbon tended to have more problems with insects boring through the skin of the fruit..

Scarlet Kabocha (Sunshine) - Small 1 to 2 pound fruits with bright orange skin and orange flesh. Smooth, sweet flesh is very tasty and a good meal for a couple of people (one fruit for two people). It can be used for baking, mashing or pies. Vines are shorter than many varieties, which might make it a good variety for people with less space to give for squash.

These did a little better with the borers and other problems, yet produced only a half dozen fruits for us. We will say that they taste excellent. We are noting that they store for a shorter period than other varieties and that they don't change taste as they store - so are good to eat immediately. We feel we have found open pollinated varieties that will do better and have excellent taste qualities.

 

Australian Butter - Five to seven pound, blocky fruits. Flesh is very moist with average storage qualities.

Australian Butter Squash

Production was no worse than any other heirloom pumpkin we have grown. However, they looked more like an orange buttercup and didn't have the taste to encourage the comparison any further. While the taste was passable - we combined that with poor storage and marginal production. As a result, we took it off of our production list. Perhaps these will work for someone else in a sandier location?

 

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updated 3/26/14