Garden Vegetables, page 2

Butterbush Butternut Squash

Winter Squash

Butterbush Butternut Squash

Last year we grew our first Butternut Squash. Butternut is a winter type squash, high in vitamin A and typically large. Averaging 3 to 4 pounds each. They have flesh that is similar in consistency to a potato, but it is orange and smoother, not so grainy.

I found that their large size was just too large for my small family. I would cut them in half and make 1/2 the first night and 1/2 the next. But it was still a lot.

I did a little homework and found that Burpee sold a smaller version called Butterbush. They describe it as averaging only 1 1/2 pounds and it is a customer favorite on the Burpee website.

The standard plants also take up quite a bit of room in the garden. The Burpee catalog says that Butterbush Butternut Squash hybrid is bushy and takes up only 4'.

So Butterbush Squash has its trial run this year. I was pleased to find that the seeds had a very high germination rate and produced very sturdy seedlings.

I planted one out in the garden on Wednesday, April 29. The rest are still in peat pots on the plant shelves. I don't usually plant all the transplants of any particular type out at the same time.

I tend to stagger the plantings in order to assess the pest threat. I do not use chemicals of any kind in my garden. So I can't just spray something on them if I see damage. Also, by not planting more than 2 of the same variety next to each other, it helps to deter pests from working their way through the whole crop.

Staggered plantings also ensure that if we get some sort of damaging weather (late freeze, hail) I do not loose all of one variety.

What are the Plant Shelves?

I will probably mention them periodically, so I may as well explain them now.

When we first built the greenhouse I discovered that you can't leave the baby plants is there all the time. Without the variations of outside weather, the seedlings just are not as strong as they could be. The greenhouse offers too much protection. The seedlings need to have the rain pelt their leaves and the wind blow on them. It makes them stronger. Like early hardening off.

Each morning, when the weather was mild, I would take all the flats and trays out the the greenhouse a put them in the partial shade on the ground. And each night I would bring them back in again. I could not leave them on the ground overnight. All manner of critters were too happy to receive a gourmet meal.

I needed to put them higher up both to save them from becoming a salad bar and to protect them from the colder air on the ground.

The solution appeared when we were at a friend's house. They had replaced the deck around their above ground pool and the old wooden stairs were sitting next to the garage. They were perfect. We set them up next to the greenhouse, against the west wall and and the plant shelves were born.

They are weathered and look like they belong there. We then added a small stainless steel counter (I don't even know where that came from). Now I have an outside potting area too.

Honey Bear Acorn Squash

Honey Bear is a hybrid acorn squash, newly released in 2009. I do like to grow heirlooms, for a variety of reasons, but I am willing to try hybrids too.

These small acorn squash are personal sized, averaging 1 pound each, a plus for smaller families. The reviews I have read state that they have sweet, dark yellow flesh with green-black skin. I will let you know.

These garden vegetables grow on vines that require only 4-5’ (only!) and can be grown in large containers on a deck or patio. Compared to the usual 8 to 10' length of some winter squash plants I suppose that 4 to 5' does qualify as only.

I found the germination rate to be better than 90 percent. The plants were a quicker to develop than the Butternut Squash. I transplanted 2 into the garden the last week of April.

The plant is also resistant to powdery mildew. Which is a plus during the hot humid weeks in July and August. It can also be a factor if you practice intensive gardening which tends to reduce the air flow between plants because of the close planting.

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