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

Ode to butternut squash

wheel barrow full of delicious butternut squash

What's so great about butternut squash?

1. It grows and grows with little attention.

2. Predator bugs are afraid...very afraid to come near them.

3. If picked and cured right they store nicely on an indoor shelf.

4. They make the most delicious pie.

Anna harvested our second round of butternut squash recently which makes this year's yield our biggest ever.

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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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Wow! Beautiful harvest! i've never had any luck with butternut squash. The vine borers and pickle worms destroy it every year!
Comment by tree Tue Sep 25 15:45:39 2012
Tree --- I'm sorry to hear that! We actually have focused in on butternuts specifically because they seem to be the least prone to vine borer damage (which are our squash nemesis as well). I've never heard of pickle worms though --- I'm going to refrain from looking it up in hopes it won't show up in my garden. :-)
Comment by anna Tue Sep 25 17:11:26 2012
I am sooo with you on butternut squash making the best pie! One of my favorites. Squash bugs are a huge problem for me with butternuts. I loathe squash bugs...they make me want to squash them.
Comment by Wonderwoman Tue Sep 25 17:20:34 2012

Yum! Remember the year you got four (squashes)? That was a funny post.

I've got just three (butternuts) this year, and four Guatemalan Blue Banana, which I think you would like. I'm so jealous and inspired seeing that picture of the wheelbarrow half full.

Comment by Paula B. Tue Sep 25 17:22:35 2012

Wonderwoman --- We do tend to get squash bugs too, but I generally ignore them, and our plants carry on through. Planting extra seems to help.

Paul B. --- I'll bet you're remembering our 2010 harvest? A few more than four, but still not many compared to this year's haul. I not only filled that wheelbarrow to the brim, I went back and got a second wheelbarrow full! (Also, I'm very impressed by your memory --- I'd forgotten that post....)

Comment by anna Tue Sep 25 18:13:17 2012
We hoped to have a harvest this year like I've seen in your postings, but our first year attempting to grow butternut was an abysmal failure. Not one squash to show for it, even though the plants looked quite healthy. :-/
Comment by Shannon Tue Sep 25 23:58:14 2012
This is the first time I've grown them. How can you tell when they are ready? Mine appear to be ripe, but the flesh is a pale yellow, not the deep orange I would expect. I reckon I will have to pick them all soon- we may even have a frost tonight.
Comment by Deb Wed Sep 26 00:54:59 2012

Deb --- I like to wait until the whole thing has turned tan, with no hints of green (except for a few lines radiating out from the stem). I did pick a few that were still a bit green, though, because you want to get them in before the frost.

One thing to be aware of is that they really need to be cured for a couple of weeks at a moderately high temperature (80 to 85 is optimal, but you can cure longer at a lower temperature) if you want the best flavor and storage potential. You might let yours sit for a couple of weeks and then see if they've oranged up inside.

Comment by anna Wed Sep 26 13:24:11 2012
Shannon --- That's a shame! Did you provide plenty of compost and light for them? Butternut squash are pretty easy, but they do like to be fed.
Comment by anna Wed Sep 26 13:26:06 2012

Anna, thanks, I have read that about curing them. Oranged up- I like that! :-) Just read about another squash that sounds very interesting - I believe it is the kobocha- can be used like butternut or pumpkin, but supposedly sweeter and meatier. Now, will it grow in zone 5? Starting on my no till garden! Got a big stack of newspapers, raking up pine needles ( lots do those since we live in a pine forest) lots of bark bits from splitting wood, the manure is just waiting for me to go shovel it, and some nice straw . Hoping that the fresh manure will compost by planting time next spring!

Comment by Deb Wed Sep 26 16:40:41 2012

Deb --- I have to admit, I've stopped trying new winter squash varieties, even though I've heard folks praise many (like delicata). Butternuts just work so well for us, and I can't imagine anything that tastes better!

Have fun with your kill mulch. :-)

Comment by anna Wed Sep 26 18:52:00 2012

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