26 Jun UNIQUE EATS: 6 SQUASH VARIETIES YOU HAVE TO TRY
I love my zucchini and yellow crookneck squash, and plant several of each every year. They are dependable growers and heavy producers. But — and this is no offense to the zucchini and the yellow squash — sometimes a gardener just needs a bit of variety, you know? My mainstays will be with me forever, but maybe it’s time to add in a different squash to the mix every now and then. Take your pick of one of these 6 unusual squash varieties, and let us know which one you’ll be growing next!
Unusual Squash Varieties to Grow
- Banana Squash: I admit this was a new one to me. Banana squash gets its name from the shape — elongated and slightly curved at the end like, yes, a banana. And depending upon the type of banana squash you grow, the outer skin can be pinkish-orange, solid yellow, or grayish-blue, but the inner flesh is always a bright orange and firm. And it’s large — up to 40 lbs. large, but averaging about 10 lbs.! The vines grow 12-15’, so be sure to give it plenty of room. Harvest when it’s 12-16” long, but when it’s the size of a banana, place a board underneath it to keep the maturing squash off the soil. This one is great for soups and stews, and can be substituted for butternut squash.
- Blue Hubbard Squash: Arguably quite an ugly squash, blue Hubbard gray-blue bumpy outer skin, and sweet orange flesh inside. The outer skin is incredibly thick, making it both difficult to cut but easily stored for long periods of time. Blue Hubbard squash, like the banana squash, is another monster weighing in at up to 50 lbs! Wait until the vines begin to die to harvest this one, as the outer color will give you no indication — it should be at the 100-120 day-maturation point. Use blue Hubbard for nearly anything you want from roasting, baking, soups, and stews, but harvest before a heavy frost as it’s a tropical variety.
- Kabocha Squash: You may have seen this one at the store and thought it was an odd-looking pumpkin — its round and squatty shape is similar, but the outer skin is a spotty green. The flesh is orange-yellow with a sweet nutty flavor, and can be used in any recipe that calls for pumpkin or sweet potato. Kabocha is a much smaller squash, weighing in at about 3 lbs. each. It loves well-drained soil enriched with organic matter, lots of water, and full sun. Harvest before the first hard frost when stems begin to wither and shrivel.
4. Red Kuri Squash: This Japanese winter squash is teardrop-shaped and somewhat resembles a pumpkin without the ridges. Each squash is about 5-8 lbs. with red-orange skin and golden inner flesh that has a rich, sweet taste. The flesh is also reported to be more of a dry texture, so when you’re baking or cooking with it, be sure to add plenty of moistening ingredients like butter or broth. Harvest before frost as soon as the foliage dries, the stem dries, and the skin darkens.
5. Spaghetti Squash: Sure, you’ve heard of spaghetti squash and may sometimes buy one from the grocery store. But have you ever grown one? It has a cylindrical shape with firm cream to yellow skin and inner flesh that scrapes out into strands (like spaghetti) after it’s cooked. Harvest it before frost when the skin turns to yellow.
6. Sweet Dumpling Squash: I love a veggie with a cute name! I love it even more when the veggie itself is cute, like this one. It’s an adorably small squash, weighing about 7 oz (roast it whole!) with a pumpkin shape and green-striped white skin. As with many other winter squashes, harvest it before the first frost when the stem begins to wither and shrink.
- Like most veggies, squash needs full sun.
- Give it lots of consistent water, but don’t let it sit in water — well drained soil is a must.
- Squash grow on long vines, so give it plenty of room to spread out.
- Small squash can grow on strong trellis supports, but large squash are too heavy to be grown vertically.
- Very large squash should have a board underneath it to keep it from direct contact with the soil, which can quickly rot it out. Farmers who grow the huge pumpkins employ this practice to easily harvest and move their large produce, as well as to keep it healthy.
- Squash plants crave nutrient-rich soil, so an all-purpose, balanced fertilizer like Kellogg Organic Plus All-Purpose Fertilizer (4-4-4) will keep your squash plants happy. https://www.kellogggarden.com/products/kellogg/organic-fertilizers/all-purpose-fertilizer/