Butternut Squash and Cold

Back in Late August I wrote:

Right now my big interplanting excitement is a single butternut squash plant. Sometime in late June, I put in some seeds on the edge of the garden right at the corner where the flowers, mint, and vegetables coexist.  I did not see the butternut squash for weeks.  But a single seed germinated and lived and one day while picking cucumbers I saw the plant.  …. Well, the cucumbers are now gone and the squash is taking over the cucumber’s space and the space of the tansy and mint.  The butternut squash has grown to twenty feet in one direction and ten in the other.  It is growing amongst and over the tansy, asters, zinnias, black-eyed Susans, and mint. It seems to grow almost a foot a day.  But not all is well with that butternut squash plant as the first leaves are starting to die off and I fear that disease may be moving fast as well.  Will the plant produce 10 – 12 beautiful butternuts or two of three that exist now and will mature even if the plant dies?  I don’t know but I am very curious to find out. I am not that hopeful about the butternuts but also not that worried as I am not dependent on those squash for survival.

My Butternut Squash, August 28 — In the picture are also mint, zinnias, black-eyed susans, sunflowers, pole beans, and tomatoes.

Well in was a battle between the butternut squash and the disease and the squash won!

My Butternut Squash, October 19th — The tomatoes are mostly over for the season. the sunflowers are brown, and only some of the zinnias survive but the mint, sorrel, and the butternut squash continue to thrive.

At the end of August I was unsure about the butternut squash’s chances and while other squash in the neighborhood in other gardens have now died off this butternut squash has thrived. It is now 75 feet in length and with six big beautiful butternuts and one or two small ones that I am fairly certain have been pollinated and are on their way. Most of these squash were pollinated by insects but as I tired of seeing promising squash embryos turn yellow and fall off undeveloped, I started to hand pollinate the flowers.

To hand pollinate a squash you take the male flower and brush its stamen on the female flower’s pistil. I did this to about eight female flowers and got two or three new squash.

The male flower with the single stamen in the photo on the left, the female flower with the three part pistil inside and the squash embryo below it in the middle photo, and the same female flower from the side with a clear profile of the squash embryo in the bigger photo on the right.

From left to right: just pollinated, maturing, almost ripe butternut squashes.

Well it is not just me who watches the butternut squash plant and the butternut squashes in my garden. My friend Catherine tells me she checks it out when she walks by to see how it is doing and my neighbor’s children, aged 5 and 7, are keeping track too. They will come over at the end of the day to talk to me about the squash and to look and see how many squash they can find. The kids may also ask for some chard, or a beet. They know vegetables are special and worthy to be gifts. They know better than to ask for a carrot. They know about Carrot Day and the value of waiting for the frost and talk about Carrot Day as if it was a prominent holiday.

When Carrot Day happens is dependent on the weather. But I expect it will be before Thanksgiving and I hope you do celebrated Carrot Day.

Please send me pictures of your carrots, your children and your celebrations when the big day does come.

May we all do our part to get our selves, our friends and neighbors, and their children to celebrate the garden, growing vegetables and doing our part to grow our own. Let’s combat global warming by sequestering carbon in our soil. That is if we are fortunate enough to have soil. If you do have a yard please think of those who do not have any land and sequester carbon not only for yourself but for your friends without soil.

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