Last year, volunteer squash plants mustered all over my garden, and I left a few of them and hoped for delicatas or butternuts. I’d certainly put plenty of delicata, butternut, and acorn squash carcasses in the compost pile. Well. Acorn squash plants took over the meeting and talked over everyone else. They zipped over to the grapevine and asked for directions to the county line. I had to resort to buying a butternut plant but it was completely intimidated by the acorns, which probably kept it up at night growing boisterously, and it withered away.
This year I got the usual fleet of squash plants, assumed they were acorns, and bought a butternut squash early. I planted it in a corner of my bed and pretty soon an acorn squash volunteered to guard it from the other corner. The butternut was quickly overwhelmed by the acorn, which put out leaves the size of baby blankets, but it was still alive, and flowering. Yay! The acorn squash plant set about a hundred fruit and the butternut was shooting blanks.
This is where you get to brush up on your flower sex. The first thing I thought about majoring in was botany, because I was so thrilled by learning about stomata pores (cells shaped like paired buttocks, complete with a hole in the middle), and botany is basically about sex, but really? Not as arousing as I had hoped.
But it’s straightforward. You gots your male flowers and your female flowers and the male stuff needs to get in the female stuff. It would be cool if there was some tendril loving involved but instead they farm the labor out to migrant bees. We have plenty of bees, and the acorn squashes were partying away, but no butternuts. It was suggested I might look into servicing the flowers myself. All that was required was to figure out which flowers were male and then shlorp the powdered jizz over to the females.
|I don’t know what the hell this is.
The female flower was described as being plumpish around the base, with bumps surrounding a central hole. I can remember that. All righty then, what does the male flower look like? Peer inside and there’s your anther. Artificial squash insemination involves whacking off the anther and then “gently rubbing” it over the female parts.
This sounded interesting.
I had nothing penciled in for the afternoon (“Nothing,” it said on my calendar) and looking for squash blossom wieners is a lot like doing nothing, only with the promise of butternuts. And I found them. Lots of them. All of them. Where were my female flowers with their bumpy cucurbit bits? You need the female flowers. Have a bunch of male flowers gathered around and all you get is a mess of pollen everywhere.
This was all sounding pretty familiar. The red-legged frogs we help across the highway are the same way. For a few weeks it’s nearly all males, eagerly hopping downhill boing boing boing to get to the wetland and practice mounting something. Eventually the females, looking tired and bloated, start down. Bloop. Bloop. Bloop. You don’t sense ardor. You sense resignation, and a sincere desire to dump the egg pudding.
Maybe the female squash blossoms are holding back too. Maybe they’re hanging around outside the mixer to see who goes in and whether he’s worth it.
The next day I saw it. A genuine green butternut squash hanging off the edge of the bed. It had shot right through the acorn squash plant and out the other side.
Clearly, trying to get away.
HOW do you cut into these things??? I have some sharp chef's knives, but I can't seem to make a dent in them. (I don't plant them. They occasionally show up in the CSA bag I get from my local farm market. I generally end up putting them in the basket that goes to a food bank.) I have some recipes around that sound intriguing, but the first thing they usually tell you is to peel it and take the seeds out, but they never tell you HOW exactly you're supposed to do that.
Why, I will tell you. The butternuts I stab repeatedly with a fork until they agree to behave and then I nuke them for 3 minutes, let them cool, and then I can peel them with a normal vegetable peeler. The acorns I stab straight down with a big knife, halfway down, bring the knife down to the non-stem end, flip it around and repeat on the stem end.
Butternuts aren't so hard skinned, I use my smallest cleaver to slice them up and a spoon to scoop out the seeds. It's why I buy them instead of other pumpkins which require a stump in the back yard and a tree-felling axe to split them.
A cleaver is one of the few kitchen tools I don't have. I might try Murr's way the next time one turns up in my CSA bag. If that don't work, I'll just keep putting them into the Food Bank basket when they turn up.
Maybe hubby has a Samurai sword laying around. It can be handy in the kitchen. Thinking of John Belushi.
Okay, now I'M thinking of John Belushi. I do have a Civil War sword I could sink into an acorn squash. Then whoever can pull it out again gets to be the king of England or something.
Actually, Jono, I have a very sharp dirk, but I never thought of using it in the kitchen. I have it as a protective weapon, just in case, but I could certainly use it in anger on a winter squash. It would be good practice for the zombie apocalypse.
I know someone who uses an old-time corkscrew to start the cut.Me? I poke a hole or even cut a piece off the skin, then do as Murr does.
Oh Murr. Am I the only guy who winced reflexively when I read about "Whacking off the anther"?? Us guys can get a little sensitive about the idea of getting our anthers sliced off. But then I thought about it some more and wondered if you meant "Whacking off the anther" in another way. I mean, did you have to give him a lap dance first? And did he tip well, after the pollen spilled out? Aside from all that, it sounds like you'd better get those acorn squash to cut out their bullying…..
Ed, I'm sorry to say that it sounds like she whacked off his anther in the not-so-fun-way. (At least it probably wasn't fun for the male plant part. I think Murr was having altogether too much fun. The little perv.)
I have no idea what either of you are talking about.
The lady doth protest too much, methinks
And yes, with skins that tough, those squashes deserve to be nuked before peeling….which raises the question — what did our parents do in pre-microwave days? Gently bake them in a hot oven for a few minutes?
I'm thinking they got Green Giant Frozen Squash Dice and shook it out in a pot.
The meaning of life at last. It's all about sex. Somehow that makes me very happy.
No, we need to know how.
It's always been about 3 things: procreation, food, and pooping. Everything else is biding one's time between doing those three things.
Or as the biologists say, "The four Fs: Feeding, Fighting, Fleeing and Mating."
I’d think a hatchet would work
So would a chain saw. Not tools I intend to use in my kitchen. Or anywhere else. Even my husband only will cut firewood if I'm at home so someone can call 911 if the worst happens. Yeah… anxiety and worry run in the family….
Now we're getting back to that marijuana conversation…
Oh, that white one? I haven't had a spaghetti squash in the garden ever, and it's growing out of an acorn squash plant. All the others are dark green or striped.
???? How strange.
I hope your butternut makes it to adulthood. I tried to grow them too with no success, since the male flowers grow first and generally have died off by the time the female flowers appear, so one year I used a tiny paint brush to collect the pollen into a jar, then when the female flowers appeared I brushed it into them, but it didn't work. I guess the pollen needs to be super fresh. It's possible your female flower got bee pollinated by a male from the acorn squash.
Yeah, looks like you just tried to inseminate something with day-old wet spot.
Squash is gross. Eaten or uneaten.
STUFFED! With quinoa and cranberries and pistachios and feta cheese and vinegar and onions! Or…I love squash. I used to hate it and then I realized it was because it was always presented with brown sugar and stuff, and I don't like that much sweet with my savory.
It’s just as much fun reading the smart-ass conments by your fans as it is to read you blogs.
It's the only reason I'm here.
OMG that squash plant!! I bought a little pot of zucchini seedlings in June and planted it and watered it and fed it and it is about 2" bigger around than it was when I bought it. It just put out a little toy flower. I am not holding my breath. Yours looks like a Miracle Gro ad! Happy squash souping!
My sister was not the only one who said she only locked her car (rural Maine) in July because if she didn't, the back seat would fill with donated zucchini. Now that's a plant I never saw a reason to grow. SOMEONE will give you some.
Growing everything in pots, I've had no luck with anything but tomatoes, cucumbers and green onions.
I have to grow everything in either pots or a cold frame by our driveway that Paul built. (We have too many trees everywhere else.) We have pretty good luck with nightshade family (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant.) Also we do well with herbs. Since we have to grow basically the same things in the same spot every year, the trick is to remove half the soil in the spring, mix in home-made compost half and half with the soil, and add a handful each of Azomite and Dr. Earth's Organic fertilizer for tomatoes, vegetables, and herbs. These add the trace minerals and such that leach out over the course of a growing season. (Learned about this on YouTube.) Our plants are growing like crazy this year.
Thank you, Mimi, I will try to remember that!
That's the YouTube video that showed me how to do it.