Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I thought I had a green thumb!

Winter squashes are the forgotten vegetables. Almost no vegetable is as easy to grow or keep. With fertile soil, full sun and ample water, vines take off. And after plants become established, they're so carefree, it's easy to forget them until fall when their rediscovery makes the harvest that much sweeter.- Andy Tomolonis

Winter squash are not forgotten in my garden and they are amazingly easy to grow. This year I planted...
Black Futsu (C. moschata) black Japanese squash, the fruit is flattened, round and has heavy ribbing. Fruits are 3-8 lbs. each and vines give huge yields.
Spaghetti (Cucurbita pepo) aka vegetable squash an oblong seed bearing variety of winter squash

Buttercup (C. maxima) Very sweet dry flesh of excellent quality. Deep orange flesh with green skin. Fruit are around 3 lbs. each.

The Black Futsu I got at a farmer's market, the spaghetti squash I ordered and the last was saved seed from what I thought was buttercup from a squash swap last year. The plants have had their time to become established and as stated in previous posts my garden was being eaten by the vines. Unbeknowst to me I was living in Cucurbita nirvana.

This disillussionment was quickly dashed when I noticed some plants wilting. I wandered in as far as the vines would allow and saw squash bugs. Then as if that wasn't bad enough I saw this....WTF is that? Further investigation was needed as I had not planted anything that remotely resembled that. So I traipsed in killing bugs as I went. I got up to this alien plant and followed it to one of the hills I know I planted the "butterucp" in. So I emailed Cyndy and asked if I could have screwed up, mislabeled the envolope and planted the Amish Pie I got from her last year.
The Amish Pie (Cucurbita maxima) is slightly pale orange flesh measures up to 5" thick, and the largest fruits weigh 60-80 pounds. Firm moist flesh is excellent for making pies and for freezing.

I explained in the email I had thought I was good for saving seed for next year as I had planted a pepo, maxima and moshata. I pressed the send button thinking I knew what happened.

"Just when you think you have it all figured out BAM! you've got nothing"

I went back out into the garden and I found lots (LOTS) of these, some of these and oops another surprise ..... When Cyndy replied she stated that the Amish Pie doesn't have white stripes and asked for more info on the different species. I had some errands to run and when I got home I took the above photo and while doing so found this....What is happening in my garden?! So I went looking for information to send to Cyndy stating that a pepo and pepo can cross etc. when I came across this darling bit of information that I had conviently forgotten (I love when my mind leaves me to keep me happy) ...
Cross pollination generally occurs only among members within the same species. However some crossing between species occurs in the genus Cucurbita, among pumpkins, squash and gourds. C. pepo will cross with C. mixta and C. moschata: and C. maxima will cross with C. moschata. C. pepo will not cross with C. maxima. Cross pollination does not occur between melons, cucumbers or other species.

I knew that! What was I thinking? OK, now I screwed up and can't save any of this seed since I can't be sure it didn't all cross. I can even admit I may have mis-labeled the package of seed. But how when I planted two different types of seed (mislabeled or not) and one plant can I end up with some many different looking squash?
So I have unknown squash growing in my garden. I have to buy seed next year. I have squash bugs. What is the upside? Well I do get to eat these mistakes and that is not a bad thing!


cyndy said...

Well, whatever they are, they are all beautiful!!
(the downside is that maybe you have discovered a new hybrid that you cannot reproduce...er..otherwise known as the happy accident!)

...we both need a class in Cucurbita 101!

Tam said...

I must say as a new veggie gardener this whole mutant squash thing is really freaking me out :-0
they are kinda neat though!!

finnsheep said...

You have squashkins! Enjoy!

When you want to save squash seed you have to tape the female flower shut until it is ready. Then fertilized it with the male flower and then cover it up until the flower decays to make sure nobody else can pollinate it.

Sandie Knapp said...

It looks to me like you will have some interesting meals this Winter, with all that variety of squash. You may want to save some of the seed for future experimentation. Who knows? Maybe you've developed a new specie? LOL

I'm jealous re: love apples. I am still waiting on mine to ripen. The vines are loaded, but only 4 are pink, so still I am waiting. UGH!