The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Bountiful butternuts

Sea of squash leaves

I might've gone a little bit overboard on our butternut squash planting this year. The photo above shows about half of our planting, growth fueled by chicken deep bedding.

Now that the vines have thoroughly filled in, the patch is pretty impressive. There aren't even any aisles left to mow!


Escaping butternut

In fact, the squash are already starting to run out of bounds. This particular stem has passed over a bed of buckwheat and is moving into our main avenue. Maybe I shouldn't have used the electric fence on the chickens and should have saved it for our naughty butternuts?

Immature butternut squash

Nearly full-size fruits are already abundant beneath the leaves. I expanded our butternut planting this year for the sake of our goats, who particularly enjoy the seeds (a natural dewormer and all-around tasty treat). But if everything keeps going at this rate, both humans and goats might have a hard time eating our way through the bushels of cucurbits when winter rolls around!

A good problem to have....



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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.



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This is our second year trying butternuts. Last year we only planted a few. We got a lot of squashes for the few plants we planted, but they were very small. This year I planted four initially, and later in the season planted about 20 more. The early squashes are, once again, small, and I'm hoping somehow we can correct the issue on the tsunami of butternuts to come.

Any ideas on how to super-size them?

They're located in a one-year old hugel bed that only has one-year's worth of topsoil. We've mulched extensively with chicken/duck bedding, wood duff from the forest on the back of our property and have previously cycled Crimson Clover/Daikon -> Iron Clay Pea -> Crimson Clover/Daikon. Soil fertility is improving, but we've got a long way to go.

Comment by Ken Wed Jul 15 08:08:59 2015
I have butternut envy. 😊
Comment by Deb Wed Jul 15 18:40:20 2015
Ken --- Small butternuts can also be a genetic thing. I like to save the seeds from the largest butternuts with the thickest necks from year to year, and my butternuts got pretty big. This year, though, I opted to try a hybrid variety that's supposed to have smallish fruit for disease resistance reasons. I'll be curious to see what happens next year if I save seeds from the hybrid.
Comment by anna Wed Jul 15 21:03:20 2015
Butternut squash soups, butternut squash pies, butternut squash casserole...
Comment by WendP Fri Jul 17 16:44:32 2015

Sounds like you guys may become the Forrest Gumps of butternut squash!

I have found that the squash, by themselves, make excellent gifts. People who don't garden seem to be amazed that you grew them yourself.

I still have two left from last year, believe it or not.

Comment by Heather in CA Sat Jul 18 11:22:41 2015





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