There hasn't been a lot to harvest in September compared to years past. Sometimes it seems like the vegetable garden is a bust this year, but it's really not, although losing the tomatoes to blight was certainly a disappointment. I'm still getting a steady trickle of okra, mostly from the lone Silver Queen plant which peaks this time of year, while the Millionaire and Jambalaya F1 plants are just about finished. Twelve pounds of okra this year, not bad.
Snap beans have also slowed to a trickle. Maybe I'll get one more picking and that will be it for the year. A seven foot row of pole beans has produced eighteen pounds for the year. I would have liked more for freezing. I still haven't found a better pole bean than Fortex. It looks like the summer squash will produce another squash. The plant was seeded mid-summer and took a long time to get established. Now its huge but most of the squash die on the vine.
The top performer this year is the winter squash. It looks like the best year ever for them. A few weeks ago I harvested the Golden Nugget squash from the single plant that survived the borer and set them on the screens to cure. Now cured they were taken inside and weighed. It's the first time I've grown this squash and I'll probably grow it again. It's very flavorful.
This harvest was nine and a half pounds. Combined with the two already consumed that's just over twelve pounds from one plant.
The remaining squash on the vine are Metro Butternut and Teksukabotu. A rule of thumb for winter squash is they need about two months from fruit set to full maturity. I start removing any squash that set around the third week of August. The average first frost around here is mid-October although that can vary by several weeks. This weekend I went through the patch to harvest any that looked ready, looking for the squash that had been on the vine longest. How do you tell? With butternuts the color is helpful. Immature ones are pale while the more mature ones develop a deeper hue. The stem is probably the best guide. It should show some brown.
I went through and picked the squash that looked the oldest. Also any squash on vines that had already died. Squash bugs are just now infesting the patch, but they seem to concentrate on spent leaves. I try to go through the patch every few days and remove those leaves. Here's what I got on the first pass, seventeen butternuts and one Teksukabotu:
The blotches come from contact with the ground. I turn them up to face the sun. That's eighteen squash that probably weigh at least 40 pounds. It's about a third of the total squash in the patch, so a total yield of at least 120 pounds of winter squash is not unreasonable, and that's from about one hundred square feet of planting. Yes it's a very good year for winter squash. To see what others are growing, head on over to http://www.ourhappyacres.com/
It seems it was a challenging year for almost everyone. That said, you have to be proud of your winter squash results. I never get much of that, mostly because of the vine borer--even the ones supposed to be resistant.
I love the look of your squash harvest!
Re the blemishes on the skins of the Butternuts: lots of people put a piece of old tile or something similar under the squash to keep it out of contact with the soil. Shame about the tomatoes, but you have had some good results elsewhere - the old "Win some, lose some" situation that we gardeners have to come to terms with.
It was a less than stellar year in my garden too. Winter was too long, spring lasted about 5 minutes and then we jumped right into a hot, dry summer. The carrots were a total bust and the tomatoes were less than half of what they usually are.
Oh well, let's chalk it up to a "learning experience" and try again next year...
Yes, tough year all around, but you certainly did well with the winter squash. And I agree, Fortex is a great pole bean.
I keep hearing about Fortex but have yet to try it...I'll have to put it on my list for next year. And that is an incredible yield from your squash patch...you could eat one squash every week and still have some left over at this time next year! Do you think you'll be able to use them all up?
Nice winter squash harvest! I'd love to know what you do with all your winter squash. I have a growing pile and would love some ideas.
Eight gate- have you tried spraying the stems with Bt in spring and early summer? It's not 100% effective but it helps. I spray both the 'borer resistant' squash like Butternut as well as squash that have no resistance. Mark - that sounds like a good idea. The cover crop that was grown before the squash made a layer of mulch after it died, but this was a very wet summer. In the end the squash were so thick that I could not walk in the bed without damaging them - an embarassment of riches! Margaret and Julie - there's no way I can use all these squash. My plan is to go to the neighbors and offer them free squash.
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