What an abundant season for Winter Squash! We planted our winter squash in a section of our farm that really seems to love growing cucurbits (squash, cucumbers, melons, etc.). We brought in all of the squash right before our first frost and there were only a reasonable amount of seconds (reasonable = an amount we can easily eat ourselves). Over the past years, we have kept good notes on which squash our customers really seem to love a lot and are growing more of those while continuing to try out new-to-us, exciting, and promising-sounding squash varieties.
One of our favourites from last year is the heirloom, Japanese Black Futsu Pumpkin with the incredible grayish-blue pebbled skin (that looks weird but is actually edible). This is one that is not only delicious but looks amazing while sitting out waiting to be eaten. The inner flesh is a brilliant bright orange. Last year was the first year we grew them and we did not grow enough….they sold out quickly. So, this year, we grew much more and we are excited that more of our customers will get to try them!
We grow a bunch of pie pumpkins including an adorable one called Baby Bear that is delicious but we decided to try a larger one as well this year, Winter Luxury. This is the first season we have grown it. It has a stunning whitish netting that covers the skin which reduces the brightness that most pumpkins possess. We like pumpkins that are beautiful and unique-looking while they sit on the counter or dining room table awaiting a special dish. This is the largest squash we grew this year and the skin (or shell) would definitely make an amazing pumpkin soup bowl with the flesh scooped out and made into a soup puree (topped with the roasted seeds)….yum….
Butternut squash are a staple squash for us. This year, we grew 3 different varieties of them: Honeynut, Nutterbutter, and Tiana. Tiana is the largest one we grew. Nutterbutter was developed by High Mowing Seeds to be an earlier-maturing butternut squash for northern growers. Honeynut is the smallest butternut squash we grew. It is a personal-size type of squash that was bred in collaboration between farmer, chef, and plant breeder. It takes longer to mature and starts out green, maturing to a darker beige (that we cannot get in the field…they change for us in storage).
We have loved Delicata squash for years. The typical one we grow has a light, cream-coloured skin with green stripes. The skin is edible and great-tasting. The most common way we eat delicata squash is to slice them in rounds and stick them in the oven (seeds, skin and all). We roast them until the seeds are crispy and then eat them like cookies. Definitely whole-foods cooking! This year, we grew 3 varieties of Delicata including one called Candy Stick Dessert. I ate one for breakfast the other day without anything added (no salt, no oil) and it tasted (to me) EXACTLY like pumpkin pie…I could taste a hint of cinnamon and it was super sweet and the texture was perfect. I imagined myself serving it for dessert with guests over….just a half on a plate!
We have a few other types of squash that we are storing a bit longer….they are the long-keepers and we want to be able to sell them closer to Christmas. They include some beautiful red, pinky orange, and pale blue Kabocha and Hubbard types: Sunshine, Winter Sweet, and the very cute Gold Nugget.
My husband and I have average in Wembley, Alberta and would like to have an organic garden. Not gov’t standard organic. no pesticides. This is for us personally to start with but eventually some for locals and market.
Where do we start? We experimented last year with a few raised beds but didn’t have them in the right spot plus our water is high in sodium so we are working on a plan to store rain water. As well, we have a dug out. Do you folks live down East?
If I were you, I’d look into Organic Alberta: http://organicalberta.org/. Attend any workshops or conferences they put on, see if they any growers in your area who you could visit in-person (sometimes farms have open farm days/tours).
We do live out East and our local organizations ACORN (http://www.acornorganic.org/) has a lot of great resources on their website too that you can read for free.
There may be organic gardening workshops in your area that you could check out. Some farmers also let people come volunteer for a day every once in a while so you can work alongside them and learn by doing.
Hope this helps, good luck, and have fun!