Newsletter 5/23/18 – Seeding winter squash!
This week we seeded our winter squash, which is always an annual landmark. These robust seeds get tucked into flats in the greenhouse for speedy germination. In a mere two weeks, we will be planting them into the soil outdoors. We’ll watch them quickly takeover, maybe getting one hoeing in before they have completely engulfed their territory. They are vining plants, so they like to stretch!
This year we are growing eight types of squash; Acorn, Buttercup, Butternut, Delicata, Hubbard, Kuri, Pumpkin and Spaghetti for a total of just over one acre of squash!
I am really excited about a Butternut variety trial we are doing. We did a mini trial last year and had great success. Previously, I have always been skeptical of butternut squash performing well in our cooler climate. Butternut is known to like hot summer days to ripen fully. Thanks to some excellent breeders, there are now a lot of butternut cultivars available for our area. We are trying out eight different varieties.
The challenge of variety trials is not in the seeding or planting, it is in the tracking pre- and post- harvest. Once those vines take over, even the best-labelled beds are a sea of leaves and vines. And since they like to stretch, even if you can find the flag, they don’t stay where you put them: a butternut squash fruit can end up 15’ away from where you planted it! This year we are spreading out the trial varieties, inter-spacing well-known and easily-recognizable varieties in between less familiar, identical-looking cultivars. It is going to be great!
It might seem odd to be talking about winter squash now, in the end of May. The thing about farming is that we are always prepping and planning for things far into the future; making plans, sowing seeds, hoping for success. In this moment, squash season seems around a very long corner. The squash seedlings are just beginning their life, early summer is making itself known, and our farming season is firmly establishing itself in the ground.