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

What to do with extra summer squash

Overmature summer squash

One of our readers asked what we do with excess summer squash.  We definitely have a lot of it, since I succession plant to beat the bugs and thus put in far more squash plants than we really need.  We've tried drying or freezing the excess, but neither option seemed very palatable when we broke back into our winter stores.  So, currently, I just pull out old vines once the new ones start producing and eat what we want in the interim.

Cutting up squashEven using that method, there are still lots of big squash that get away from us.  So when I remove vines, I select half a dozen of the darkest-orange squash from various plants to sit on the porch for a month and then be broken open to provide next year's seeds.  After that, the rest of the squash go to the chickens.

If you watch your flock, you'll discover that they're not so interested in cucurbit flesh (although they will eat it if they haven't had many other vegetables lately).  What the birds really want, instead, is the fresh seeds.  Unfortunately, big squash like the ones I earmark for chickens have skins too tough for the birds to peck through, but that's easily fixed by whacking away at the squash with a shovel until each fruit has popped open to expose the more nutritionally-dense morsels inside.  This same method is pretty effective at moving overripe cucumbers back into the food chain too.

Fly on squashEach chicken will only consume the seeds from maybe half or one large squash per day, but I'm hoping my wheelbarrowful will get eaten before the fruits entirely rot away.  I came back a couple of hours after dumping the squash in the chicken pasture and saw several fruits hollowed out, but also lots Yellow Soldier Flies (Ptecticus trivittatus) circling over the squash, some mating and presumably laying their eggs in the squash flesh.  Does anyone know if Yellow Soldier Flies can be raised in the same bins as Black Soldier Flies?

Side note about soldier flies aside, what should you do with your squash if you don't have chickens?  Today is Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor's Porch Night --- go celebrate!

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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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I wonder if it would ferment into something drinkable squash cider ? Starting now it should be drinkable by Christmas !
Comment by diogenese Fri Aug 8 17:35:46 2014
If you have more squash than your chickens can consume save the seeds from the uneaten squash & sprout them during the colder months so your birds can have fresh greens.
Comment by laurie Fri Aug 8 21:17:05 2014
When the squash gets too large to be yummy, I shred the flesh and make Squash fritters or squash bread. I have found that I can freeze the shreds and the fritters or bread turn out just fine. Also, you can roast the seeds just like you would pumpkin seeds for strategic snacking purposes. :-)
Comment by April Connett Sat Aug 9 15:51:06 2014

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