After liberating four 4 inch pots, I planted 8 heirloom Red Kuri squash seeds in them. They are big seeds and will stay inside longer, so I gave them more room up front.
Although these are a Japanese variety of the common Hubbard squash, they were bred in Hokkaido to be smaller, thinner skinned, and for a chestnut flavor. Hokkaido breeders started with a common Hubbard squash imported in the 1800s. In taste tests, these come out as a winner. They are less prolific than big Hubbard vines, but as usual, Japanese breeders put quality of taste above productivity and shipping durability. A smaller squash is more likely to mature in my short season. It may be a good year for them, since I am having an unusually warm late winter.
Another advantage of this squash is that each one has 200-250 large seeds. Easy to save for next year’s garden and easy to roast and eat. Roasted squash seeds were common when I lived in Mexico, and getting more common in the US. Counting 200 roasted seeds, the nutritional value of these winter squash is excellent.
Another aspect of squash is that the leaves are edible as greens. Squash are large plants, and growing extra for warm season greens adds another level of nutritional value. The first flowers on squash are male. When the female flowers arrive, they will form the fruit. The flowers are a delicacy battered and fried, stir-fried, scrambled in eggs, or floated in a delicate broth. I rarely pull out the extra plants until I get the first flush of blooms… and a nice crop of greens.
Eating the early produce adds measurably to the amount of food from your garden space.
These special darlings will go in my warmest and sunniest raised hugelkultur bed, that is protected from windstorms whipping through the valley below.
I do not raise vast amounts of any one thing in my food forest. I eat a wide variety of food and will use my new raised beds biointensively. I will grow peas soon and put them everywhere. As I become sated with fresh raw peas, I will allow them to mature and ripen for seed saving, and grow plenty to dry for winter soups… I love the occasional pot of split pea soup with bacon when it is cold outside. I am hauling fill dirt as fast as I can to get my three new beds completely filled and really for peas. Peas also prepare the beds for warm season vegetables like squash by adding a measure of nitrogen.
Even though Red Kuri is not a prolific squash, it promises a short enough season to mature in my mountain garden. It also promises delicious flavor. Good for me and good to store a few months into the winter. Plenty to preserve for holiday “pumpkin” pies if I have more than I want to eat fresh through fall and into winter.