Garden planning – 2008

We’ve finally completed the annual agony of poring over seed catalogs, last year’s garden map, and climate change predictions. Here is one new squash variety we’ll try this year. Last summer was very unkind to the Cucurbita family, and the Potimarron & Long Island Cheese squashes didn’t produce or ripen well. So this season’s strategy is to plant cold-tolerant varieties and hope they can adapt if summer turns hot, or at least mature before the heat hits. (If you want to read more about what may be headed our way climate-wise in the PNW, the Climate Impacts Group is a great resource.)
So let me introduce Uncle David’s Dakota Dessert squash from Fedco Seeds:
(95 days) Cucurbita maxima Buttercup squash at its best. This outstanding strain which David Podoll calls “the original buttercup” has been in his family for 70 years. They’ve been selecting it for 40 years, crossing it with hubbards and other maximas, primarily for color, taste, sweetness, and vigor and hardiness in cold weather, but also for thick flesh, small seed cavities and higher productivity, while maintaining the buttercup look. The results show. Our five hills produced 18 ripe squash averaging 4.5 lb. The Podoll family bake it into pies without using any other sweetener. But this is also a versatile main dish squash, with all the character that makes buttercup a New England favorite. And it is one rugged buttercup, withstanding several cold summers and all those temperature extremes in each of the past four years without skipping a beat, and persevering to produce a lot of squash.
Should be easy to spot under all the squash vines with such dramatic coloring. And the 95-day growth period is a lot better than the 110 days of the Long Island Cheese squash we tried. With a little soil preheating via black plastic, and being planted on a manure/straw pile, I have high hopes for this one. Our other winter squash choice is a repeat from last year, the Sweet Dumpling bush delicata. Mainly because we like delicatas, and have seed left over.
Otherwise, Seven Trees is still in project-planning mode, as well as a shift change at work. There are starting to be rumbles and whisperings of another summer shindig to celebrate Lughnasadh, a Celtic first-fruits festival.
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