Red Bucket Farm is an urban farm on a quarter acre property in an average residential neighborhood. We are located in Wisconsin, USDA Zone 5. We focus on chickens, bees, orchard fruit, and raised garden beds for fruits and veggies. We hope to reduce our footprint on the planet by growing some of our food, reducing our use of fossil fuels, and gardening with sustainable practices. Thanks for visiting!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer vs. Winter Squash

We entertained visitors at Red Bucket Farm over the holiday weekend. One guest asked, "Just how big are you going to let those squash grow?" The implication was that our squash had already grown way beyond their usefulness. I think the confusion is understanding the difference between winter squash and summer squash.

Summer squash are generally yellow skinned vegetables that grow in a variety of shapes---pattypan, crook-neck, straight-neck, and their green skinned cousin zucchini. This family of squash often grows in a bushy habit, and it has soft flesh. If not harvested early and often, the fruits can quickly grow to the size of a football. Jumbo zucchini isn't a crisis, it just requires a little creativity to use its prodigious quantity. (Try them in fritters.) Summer squash doesn't store very well. It's best to eat it promptly, hence it is called summer squash. Sorry that I don't have any photos of summer squash, but we didn't plant any this year.

Winter squash grows on long enthusiastic vines, and in a wide variety of shapes, colors and sizes. Our favorite is butternut squash, which we make into all things savory and sweet. The flesh of winter squash is solid, with a small seed cavity similar to pumpkin. Often the skin can also be quite firm. Winter squash is a longer growing vegetable, harvested in the fall just before the first frost. The little fruits start out green and mature into bright colors in late summer and early fall. Many winter squash will store nicely, adding to the variety on the supper table well into February and March. 

So don't fear large squash. And when you hear the meteorologist warn about first overnight freeze, you'll know I'm outside in the dark harvesting squash by flashlight. 

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