October 28, 2021

Not Pumpkins

It's that pumpkin harvesting time of year! Except, I don't grow pumpkins because they don't do well for me. Instead, I plant other kinds of winter squash. This year, I tried two varieties I've never grown before: a landrace variety and sweet potato squash. Amazingly, both are shaped like pumpkins.

First of my winter squash harvest

The three small ones in the center are the landrace squash. (To learn more about landrace vegetables, check out my post, "A New Paradigm for Gardening & Seed Saving.") Three was all I got, but considering that the parent stock originated in the Pacific northwest, it's amazing they managed to produce anything. I will save all the seed from these and see how they do next year.

The four larger squashes are the sweet potato squash. These are still producing, so depending on when our first frost is, I should get several more. They don't look anything like sweet potatoes, but they are said to be similar in taste and texture. I'll let you know!

Speaking of sweet potatoes, I've just started harvesting these.

Freshly dug sweet potatoes

Our first frost could be any time now, so I'd like to have all of these out of the ground before then.

Smaller ones.

For now, we're still enjoying tomatoes, okra, and green beans from the garden. Fall greens are coming up, so we're starting to get those for dinner too. Only one variety of the lettuce I planted germinated, which is disappointing, but I'm grateful for at least that. If we have a mild winter, we'll have lettuce and greens all winter.

It's hard to believe the year is almost over. I have several interesting things to show you and will get started on that next month!


Judy said...

Do your sweet potatoes grow outside the row? When I would dig my sweet potatoes I had to dig the whole plot, because I got as many outside the row as I got digging the row. And they were nice sized ones too.

Leigh said...

Judy, yes! The vines put down roots and grow new sweets wherever they are. So my biggest ones are where the original slips went in, and I get smaller ones farther out on the vines. So, like you, I have to dig up the entire bed. And beyond!

daisy g said...

The sweet potato squash sounds interesting. I can imagine it would make quite a nice soup.

Our sweet potatoes climbed out of the bed this year, so we found some underneath the ground around the bed as well. Grateful for it all!

Mama Pea said...

How interesting how much your sweet potato squash look like pumpkins! Be sure to post on the flavor when you prepare them for the table. And those LARGE sweet potatoes . . . county fair winners!

Leigh said...

Daisy, I'm thinking pie! :) I was thinking that digging sweet potatoes is like hunting Easter eggs. You never know where you'll find them, but you're glad to find every one!

Mama Pea, I had no idea what to expect! For both the squash and the sweet potatoes. Really happy for them all.

wyomingheart said...

Absolutely love those sweet potato squash! I have never heard of them, and with the dismal appearance of my pumpkins this year, I think I am looking forward to trying these next season! Have you cooked one of these up? What does it taste like? Sweet potato pie? Your actual sweet potatoes look awesome, as well! We had our first frost, so some unexpected harvesting needed to happen, but I will be posting on that this week. Have a wonderful weekend, Leigh! Great post!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh - I will be curious if the sweet potato squash actually tastes like sweet potato.

Things have taken a dip in cold here as well - about a week earlier than usual and certainly before I was able to get things into the ground. I am scrambling to get everything in before another week goes by.

If I had the space, I think I would dedicate an entire bed to sweet potatoes as they tend to take everything over.

Florida Farm Girl said...

It will be interesting to see what those sweet potato squash taste like. I'm a fan of butternut squash so I bet I'd like these too.

Ed said...

I was pretty excited about my first sweet potato harvest but now I am humbled when compared to the size of your sweet potatoes.

Up here growing pumpkins is pretty easy except for this year when the squash bugs decimated them before we could treat the plants. Part of the risk of having a garden 40 miles away I guess.

Rain said...

Leigh, your sweet taters look amazing. You know, I've been trying SO HARD to grow pumpkins...not just here on the new land, but for years when I lived in Quebec and I've had such bad luck...maybe I should give up and start on some squash like you did! They look awesome!!! ♥

LindaG said...

Congratulations on all you harvested. Praise God.
Be safe and God bless!

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, I haven't cooked one yet, but I will soon. And I'll take pictures and give everyone an honest review! Looking forward to your harvest post. :)

TB, I haven't tried one yet, but I'll definitely have to do a post when I cook one of those squash. Pie for sure. My go-to is usually cushaw squash, which has a very pumpkiny flavor. The Georgia candy roaster were more like butternuts. I'm very curious about these.

Sweet potatoes do tend to spread! But we eat a lot of them and I like to feed them to the goats for vitamin A too. I bet rabbits would love them too. :)

Sue, I'm guessing these will be something like butternuts, but who knows! I'll give a full report soon.

Ed, I find sweet potatoes unpredictable. I planted my slips late, so I was very surprised to find as many big ones as I did. Those that rooted from vines are smaller, but I harvest them all!

I'm sorry to hear you lost so many pumpkins to squash bugs. They can really be a problem. One of the reasons I've always liked cushaws is because they don't seem to be as bothered by squash bugs as much as other varieties. Plus, they do well in our heat and dry spells. But it's different in every location, isn't it?

Rain, you should definitely experiment with winter squash! You'll probably find that some varieties do better for you than others. I've tried a lot and settled on the ones that thrive in my climate. And you can do all the same things with them as you can with pumpkin!

Linda, thank you! Yes, I am very thankful. :)

Cederq said...

Not overly fond of sweet potatoes, but like Florida Farm Girl I love Butternut and spaghetti squash. I will have to find some around here to give them a try. Are the two varieties cold tolerant?

Rosalea said...

Those are sure some beauty sweet spuds! How I wish we could grow them. I am very interested in the taste test on the sweet potato squash.

Leigh said...

Kev, I think in general winter squash take about 100 days to maturity, so the longer your growing season, the more you get. None of them can survive a frost. I've never started seeds early indoors, but that's an option. I had to experiment to find varieties that did well for me, and admit to still experimenting!

Rosalea, I'll be sure to do a blog post about them in the near future. :)

Wendy said...

I have had to give up on all squash plants for a couple of years in the hopes that the squash bugs will just die out. They were such a problem that I haven't been able to grow to harvest anything in the squash family including zuchinni. Nobody has problems growing zuchinni, except me :(.

I love your sweet potatoes! Wow! So huge!

Nina said...

Your squash looks great. I've found that some squash make infinitely better "pumpkin" pies, than a lot of pumpkin varieties. Since none of ours grew this year due to weird weather and seedling eating critters, I had to buy mine. I only harvested 3 zucchini too, which was sad. Fingers crossed that next year will be better.

Leigh said...

Wendy, insects can be discouraging. It seems that some winter squash varieties are more resistant to squash bugs than others (?). I'm not certain about that, though. I try to stay ahead of them by removing and destroying leaves with eggs. That seems to help with population control.

Nina, thanks! I have to say I'm not terribly disappointed about not being able to grow pumpkins because I'm not a big fan of pumpkin flavor. I think the other winter squashes taste better too.

That is sad about your zucchini! Too many can be a nuisance, but they are usually such reliable producers. Definitely hoping next year will be better.

Tom Stewart said...

Hi Leigh,
It has been awhile since my last comment, But when I saw the "Sweet Potatoes" I though I would tell you about the ones we grow here on the "Big Island.
Summer Squash and winter Squash do not due well here and nether do Sweet Potatoes,( Too wet!!).
Except for "Okinawan Sweet Potatoes"! We grow these in Washing Machine tubs with a good growing mix. They Are very dense and it takes a long time for them to get harvest size. The first time I decided to harvest our first tub we got a few good size and 3 that weighed in at 7 pounds 10 ounces!!
They are white skinned and purple inside. The way we cook them is peeled and pleased in a slow cooked with a little water, Set on medium until fork tender (1 - 1 1/2 hours).
When they are done, the water turns into a great sweet syrup!
The plants do not survive even a short frost and a hard winter will turn them to mush.

Leigh said...

Tom, good to hear from you! I'm surprised squash and sweet potatoes don't do well in Hawaii. Isn't it a tropical climate? Or is there some other reason they don't grow well for you? You method of cooking sweet potatoes sounds really good. I like the idea of getting syrup as a byproduct!

Unknown said...

Where did you get your original sweet potato squash seeds? My online search didn't turn up any that really looked like your photos.....Thanks so much!

Leigh said...

Unknown, I got the seeds from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I agree, they don't look like some of the other photos of sweet potato squash. I'm guessing that has to do with genetic selection isolated to a specific breeding area.