Grit Blogs > A Long Time Coming

The Summer of Squash

A photo of Shannon SaiaThis year is definitely going to go down in my records as the summer of squash, which is to say that I've had a spectacularly successful gardening season – squashwise. This may seem a little bit like saying that I've had fantastic luck growing dandelions ... I mean, squash, right? There's a reason people get sick of zucchini. But here we are in August – AUGUST! – and I am still harvesting squash. For the first time in three years, my squash plants were not destroyed by squash vine borers by the first week of July.


What did I do different this year? What expertise did I bring to bear?

You mean on purpose? You're kidding, right? This was more or less dumb luck. Maybe less.

I mean, I did a couple of things – both half-heartedly and by accident. I specifically did not plant Black Beauty Zuchinni, which I read after my second year's loss is particularly susceptible to vine borers. I went with the bush baby instead. I also planted scallop squash (that produced a few fruit and then died) and a bunch of different winter squash (that all started out strong and then fizzled out and died). But I think the important thing is not that I had so many squash plants but that they were in three distinct and separate parts of the garden. When I did have problems, the offending insects didn't get everybody.

For example, these critters. The Squash Bug.

Squash Bugs

Let me tell you, these are not so easy to smush, so my usual pick and smush method of organic pest control didn't work. Also, do you know that if you slap the leaves of curcurbits between your palms (in a futile attempt to kill squash bugs) that they sting the crap out of your palms with all these nearly invisible spear-like things that look deceivingly like fuzz? Trust me. Not fuzz.


Anyway ... I had an empty five gallon bucket out in the garden that had once contained worm castings, and I put some water in this bucket, and then I started pulling off the infected leaves, shoving them down into the water, and then I put the top on the whole thing. I mean, the plants are going to lose these leaves anyway, right?

It worked, more or less. I totally lost the winter squash, and the one scalloped squash plant, but the two bush baby zucchini plants, one on each side of the garden, are still producing, and the tromboncinos took it all in stride and spread, and spread, and took over marigolds, cucumbers, leeks, and an entire section of path (which had become weeds anyway), and they continue to pump out fruit that looks like this, and is quite delicious.

Tromboncino Squash

I have a freezer full of zucchini and tromboncino squash. I mean, I really think it'll get me through to next summer's squash producing time. So I have that going for me.

And you know what? I'm getting a little sick of squash – the harvesting, the freezing, the cooking and the eating. I'm actually starting to feel that when those squash plants finally die back, that it'll be okay with me. I'm actually kind of looking forward to it.

But this is a success story, so let that pass.

10/21/2010 12:48:49 PM

If you let those squash ripen o the vine they turn out like a butternut. They also get like 3 ft long. Check out the path to feedom urban homestead, they grow that one like every year.

8/6/2010 11:45:31 AM

Shannon, Ooh, those squash bugs look icky! I'm trying zucchini for the first time this year, but I think I got it started too late. It's barely blossoming. And lots of folks in AK grow it, so I know it can be done. Live and learn...maybe there's still time! Maybe we'll be seeing some squash recipes from you down the road? Susan

cindy murphy
8/6/2010 7:21:20 AM

Hi, Shannon. I've never seen tromboncino squash before. I love their color; it's always a bonus when food looks pretty, as well as tastes good. I'm rolling my eyes at that, (as I'm sure you are too) but when I get "Eeww - that looks nasty" from the peanut gallery, it doesn't matter how good it tastes: if it looks nasty, obviously it tastes nasty. Like Vickie, this year I'm on the receiving end of squash - and we're getting plenty. It looks like all my volunteer vines (and I let way too many of them grow) are producing gourds. At least I think they're gourds - do you know how to tell the difference? I should probably do a two-minute Internet drill to find out. Perhaps I could be eating instead of waiting for Halloween to decorate with them. Glad for your squashly success story. Wishing you many more....success stories that is, since it seems you've had enough squash right now.

8/4/2010 12:03:59 PM

Shannon, Oh so glad your squash is doing well. Sounds like all your garden is growing fantastic. The one time I grew zucchini I would pick it and go out to the garden the next day there would be full size grown ones again. So now I buy it from the man down the street! Can't wait to hear more garden stories vickie

s.m.r. saia
8/4/2010 9:23:10 AM

Dave, I'm glad to hear that you're garden is doing well! I hope you have a huge haul of potatoes!!!

nebraska dave
8/3/2010 5:01:01 PM

@Shannon, I think anything that grows on a vine is doing well this year. My cukes are going berserk. I can’t give them away fast enough. I hear people say that pumpkins, melons, and squash of any kind are taking over the gardens. Tomatoes not so much. I am just now starting to harvest tomatoes. They are considerably later this year, but so far mine are quite delicious and have no bug or rot problems. The bell peppers are outdoing themselves and the potatoes are well I don’t know quite yet but they do look good. The spuds are not infested with any thing that could harm the potatoes under the ground. I’ve quit watering them like the books say so we will see just how good of a turn out it will be. The onions were a bust. I have harvested a total of three and I think that’s going to be just about all she wrote. I’m really thinking about digging up that whole area and planting a fall crop of some sort. That would be the first time ever doing that. I think you have discovered the secret to gardening and well all of life. Diversity is the answer. Different varieties in different places in the garden will keep the entire crop from succumbing to bugs or disease. I don’t have that luxury so I have to be careful about crop rotation and clean soil each year. By clean I mean good top compost every year. Have a great garden harvest day.