October 11, 2013

Not Pumpkins

If there's a book of gardening bloopers, this one may be a candidate.

Last spring I bought lots of seeds, because so many new-to-me varieties looked really good. Planting was sporadic because of all the rain and I didn't get everything planted that I wanted. I made a sketch on graph paper of what I planted, when, and where. Then I lost my garden plan.

As the garden began to flourish, I puzzled over one mystery squash, trying to remember what I had planted. As the squashes began to take shape and grow large, I figured they must be spaghetti squash. But they never turned yellow like spaghetti squash. Instead, they turned orange.

They looked like pumpkins but I knew I didn't plant pumpkins this year. I planted orange cushaw instead. I chopped up some of these orange not-pumpkins and fed the to the goats. They loved them. There's no great loss without some small gain, as Ma Ingalls used to say.

One day, while staring at the bed of these now large, mature squashes, it dawned on me that these were Tatume summer squash. I bought them from Baker Creek, after reading how well they did in the Mexican and Texan summer heat. They are supposed to be picked while small and tender, but by the time I realized what they were, it was too late!

This is the size at which they ought to be picked.

Well, almost. I managed to find two small ones and saute them in a little olive oil with a few of our multiplier onions and fresh sweet basil from the garden. This is my favorite way to eat summer squash.

They were delicious! Sweet and tender. Oh, how I lamented all the good summer squash eating we'd missed. Plus, they grew better than the crookneck and pattypan types I'd grown in the past.

On the bright side, I'll have plenty of seeds for next year, and the goats will have good eating too. I may even experiment and see what I can do with mature summer squash. Who knows? I may figure out a tasty way to salvage the lot.

Not Pumpkins © October 2013 


Dani said...

We enjoy eating our squash with a dab of butter and a drizzle of honey.

Have you tried using the mature ones in making a soup or baking whole and stuffed?

Quinn said...

For what it's worth, I grew my pattypan squash FAR beyond the recommended "harvest at 3 inches" and enjoyed every bite! The only difference to prep was that I scooped out the seeds, as I would with winter squash, before steaming. Maybe your large squash will be delicious!! :)

Farmer Barb said...

I say, "Close your eyes and PRETEND it's a pumpkin." Soup it, pie it, roast the seeds with salt, be grateful you are an innovator!

My compost planted butternut squash grew true even though it was from the store. Even though I didn't know what it was. Even though I never watered or weeded it. I am embracing my free food and planting it the same way this year--under a heap of unfinished compost!

Leigh said...

Dani, Quinn, and Barb, you'll all be pleased to know that I have indeed been experimenting with these overgrown summer squash. I cut one into large chunks and steamed it. Indeed it was still delicious!

I scooped out the insides and used part of it for a not-pumpkin pie! Not as strong flavored as "real" pumpkin pie, but very good. The shell remained hard so I think it would make a good stuffed squash. I'd also like to try a squash soup. Anyone have a good recipe for that?

Anonymous said...

I might have to give this a try. I never liked squash as a kid, but my taste buds are changing thankfully.

Renee Nefe said...

sounds wonderful!

That reminds me that I need to roast my pumpkin today as it is leaking sap for some reason (I guess it was damaged)

Sandy Livesay said...


Experimenting with new seeds is exciting. I'm sorry you lost your garden plans. On the bright side you have all kinds of seeds for next year.

Ed said...

Classic mistake but one I've made in the past as well. I solved it by making a crude pencil and paper sketch of my garden that I file away somewhere. It is good for later in the year reference and when planting in future years.

Lynda said...

Leigh, The way to treat these would be to cut them into LARGE sections and turn them upside down in a steamer basket. Do not bother to remove seeds or other guts. Steam until very tender and allow to cool and drain, then you will be able to easily cut off both the inside and outside inedible parts. Then use exactly as you would for cooked pumpkin, either pureed or chunked. It will freeze beautifully, too.
I have a few very good pumpkin soup recipes and bunches of other uses, too, if you would like to have some.
You might even find you can eat the seeds as you would for pumpkin, too.

Lynda said...

By the way, there are other squashes that are sold and promoted as "summer" squash that are actually more suited to maturing as winter squash -- I'm talking about you, zucchetta! And some work about equally well at both stages of development.

Leigh said...

Stephanie, I've found the same to be true for me too. No wonder kids are so fussy!

Renee, just in time for the winter holidays. :)

Sandy, one of these days I need to organize my pile labeled "garden," and put everything in a notebook. Seems a notebook would be bigger and therefore harder to lose, LOL.

Ed, yes, that's another reason those garden plans are useful. I like to not plant similar things two years in a row in the same spot. After awhile, it's hard to remember.

Lynda, thanks! That's exactly what I did. The rind was hard like a gourd, even after the insides were tender, so the chunks were super easy to scrape out. The puree was mild and quite tasty. So far I've just been feeding the seeds to the goats. Do you have your recipes online?

I've not heard of zucchetta, but there are so many varieties of squash! I've found too, that winter squashes are quite tasty and when small and young. An extremely versatile food, actually.

DFW said...

Hey there, I found you again! Blogger is horrible & wouldn't allow me to change your address. I've now joined bloglovin which allowed me to unfollow the old one & follow the new one, whew! Anyway, I look forward to catching up with you.

Mama Pea said...

As for you finding a way to use the "over ripe" squash, I can hear your goats yelling, "No, no, we'll eat them all!"

I planted a later bed of 8 short rows of lettuce and didn't label the rows of the different varieties. (Dumb, dumb.) Three varieties never sprouted. But do I know which varieties so I don't use that seed next year? Nope.

Lynda said...

Leigh, I don't have most of my recipes online, although I have a whole bunch of things to try pinned and a small number tested and with notes. But I will be happy to share my tried-and-true with you if you like. I have been treating all winter squash as the same, so use pumpkin etc. in recipes calling for butternut and other squashes.

Zucchetta is an extremely vigorous squash of Italian origin which was being sold by a number of seed companies (Shepard's, etc.)as summer squash quite a few years ago. Turns out my grandmother (not Italian) had grown it many years before World War II, having gotten seeds from a neighbor. She embarrassingly called them Dago squash --not intentionally offensively, it's just the adjective they used to mean Italian in those long-ago days-- and would go out in the garden and cut off the portion she wanted to fry, leaving the rest to grow.

I have many saved seeds and so haven't bought any in forever. It makes very long thin, light-green zucchini-like squashes. Flavor is not quite what I am accustomed to for summer squash, but I did of course use it in many ways. It is so wildly productive that we struggled to use them quickly enough fresh. Then some got overmature and I discovered what a great winter squash it makes. They look kind of like a tan-colored baseball bat.

You may email me at lyndawhitney at gee mail dot com and I can email you pumpkin recipes (and mail zucchetta seeds) if you would like.

Leigh said...

Lynda, I've tried to email you at the addy you provided, but it keeps coming back with an error

Technical details of temporary failure:
DNS Error: DNS server returned general failure


Lynda said...

That's weird, you do know that "gee" mail meant gmail, right? That is my correct email. Seems like you have an email provided with your blog. You can try to ping me again, and I will see if I can get a message through to you directly.