It doesn’t feel anything like winter today, what with hot weather reaching all the way from the ocean to the mountains. But in your boxes, Winter Squash season starts this week.
Winter squash is not just for winter anymore, if it ever was. What’s not to like about it? Delicious and nutritious, it also makes an attractive seasonal display on your kitchen counter or other spot. It keeps well for months, which is where its name comes from despite the fact that it grows in the summer and is harvested in the fall. The flavor is simple enough that most kids will eat it with hardly any elaboration, but it can also be the backdrop for any number of gourmet and highly flavored dishes.
Winter squash is an adaptable crop that will grow in many places, but it does particularly well at Terra Firma. Our fertile clay loam soil produces big, healthy vines that cover the ground and provide the ideal shady environment for the fruit. And our climate provides a long period of warm to hot weather that helps the squash ripen to full sweetness.
We plant winter squash in late May, and we started harvesting some varieties in late August. This year we are growing zucchini-shaped Delicata, Acorn and two orange Japanese-type squashes: Red Kuri and a Kabocha called Sunshine. Those are in addition to our primary variety, Butternut. You will see all of these varieties in your boxes, but you will get more butternut than any of the others.
Out of all the crops we grow, Butternut Squash may be the single most productive. It has more disease and pest resistance than any of the other squash varieties, but it’s also less likely to be damaged by the sun during heatwaves due to its light color. And it produces almost twice as much squash per acre as any of the other varieties we have grown.
The first squash you will see in your boxes will be Delicata (this week) and Acorn a few weeks later. These are the varieties with the shortest shelf life: a month or two instead of three or four like the others. They truly don’t deserve the name “winter squash”, and the best time to enjoy them is in the fall.