Not yet too trendy, this one looks so cool it gets sold as a decoration – it may be adorning your porch right now. If we consider winter squash as food at all, most of us think of acorn and butternut. But those Turk’s Turban, Baby Hubbard, Carnival (pictured left), Kabucha, and small sugar pumpkins taste great roasted, baked or sautéed. Try baking one of the squatty Cinderella or cheese pumpkins. Or add some to a hot soup. The small round Buttercup is perfect for a single serving.
Most of these are naturally sweet - no need for all the brown sugar and marshmallows added by your Mom to trick you into eating bland, shipped in, acorn squash. The thick skins that make them a challenge to slice open help them store well in a cool dark dry pantry. That is a good thing, as they taste best if given 6-8 weeks to cure and to build sugar content. And that means they’re ready just in time for holiday meals.
My favorite is still a Delicata (pictured at article head), split and baked with a little butter. It has a thin skin and doesn’t store as well as, say, a hubbard. But it is sweet without curing, so enjoy one of these gems as a side dish now and save the big blue one for a cold December night.
And One Last Comment
No fall harvest chat should end without a review of the summer vegetable season. Terrible start, right? Too cold and wet. Cool season veggies like peas and lettuce didn’t get planted on time. Peppers refused to grow until midseason. Tomatoes and eggplant got hit by early alternaria blight, anthracnose and botrytis. Cucumbers succumbed to powdery mildew almost overnight. And just as things started looking good, tomatoes got hit again, this time by late blight. Even in the relative protection of the greenhouse my favorite Cherokee Purple struggled to produce even one edible fruit per plant.
We did get to see just how well some of the new varieties performed tho. We applied copper to peppers and tomatoes in the greenhouse, but avoided other fungicides because we wanted to see how the plants fared. As noted, the heirlooms and many of the hybrid varieties still struggled. On a bright note, the blight resistant Mountain series of tomatoes, especially Mountain Magic, thrived.
This bodes well for the future. Plant breeders have been working to bring productivity and disease resistance to the great flavor, cool colors and unique textures of heritage varieties.
Keep an eye on EarthWork Seeds, a Florida based startup with a passion for developing tasty cultivars. One of the company’s first releases is Damsel F1, a pink 12 oz beefsteak tomato which trial growers say has the great flavor of an heirloom and intermediate Late Blight resistance. We definitely plan to carry this variety next spring. Be sure to look for it.
- Bruce Carson
Greenhouse Operations Manager