Monday, July 27, 2009


While shopping in the farm store for other things a few weeks ago, Echo happened to pick up a butternut squash plant for the garden. She did so in all innocence, for some reason thinking of the vegetable as the string squash of the kind we enjoyed so much last year, not as the butternut squash we had last year that she didn't like because she was expecting a Japanese pumpkin sort of flavor.

I, on the other hand, also in innocence - yes, there are still some aspects of life in which I can claim a degree thereof - have never grown butternut squash, though at the upstate roadside farm stands back in the autumns of my NY days I always bought a basketful of butternuts to take home and bake, stuff, cube and then devour with a big smile. In the matter of said innocence, though, as I say I have never grown them, or even seen them growing; they were an esoteric vegetable way back when I was a young wild kidling wandering the farm fields.

So I was expecting sort of a zucchini kind of growth arrangement, rather bushy but tolerably compact, in my small garden. I was not expecting The Day of the Triffids. You should see that thing. It is taking over, and is heading for the house. It has commandeered the net fencing on that side, along with the cooperative sunflower stems, is tendriling relentlessly among the shy Moroccan beans, has overrun the remaining turnips and is infiltrating the tomatoes and claiming the gobo even as I speak, but it is a beauty, that plant, those big hefty dark-green leaves, and those blossoms, big as a dinner plate (superb for tempura and more!), half of them based with a pale green mini-butternut squash all ready to get started (they're the model for the Navajo squash blossom wedding necklaces!), just waiting for the ants and moths and butterflies or me if its raining.

And it has been raining, day after day, since 2007 I think, so there aren't many pollinators about, hence the 'me.' Yes, I have been pollinating the blossoms with a stem of grass and as little eroticism as possible, there are limits to things like that, and as soon as the sun comes back with the bees et al., I am out of the picture.

In any case, I'd rather have the vast plant thinking positively of me when it reaches the house.


Tabor said...

I just posted (on my other blog) some photos of our volunteer squash plant that started to grow out of the mulch pile. We have several large squash if the ground hog leaves them alone!

MaryContrary said...

I sympathize with you on the lack of pollinators. We finally saw our first bee last week. I went on line to find out how to hand pollinate squash plants having put in yellow squash plants and acorn squash and globe zucchini from seed. We haven't had the rain but it has been unseasonably cool. That may be why the bees have been so slow to arrive. In my 'innocence' I never knew that the squash family produce 'incomplete' flowers--separate male and female flowers. Thank god for the internet.