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

What to do with monster squash

Monster squashThe joke goes that July is the only month when you have to lock your car in [insert the name of your rural county here] or you'll return to find it full of zucchini.  Previously, I've rolled my eyes and held out my hand when told that tale of garden bounty, but for the first time in 2012, succession planting and variety selection have allowed us to defeat the squash vine borer and we're drowning under an ever expanding pile of summer squash.

We've done our best to eat the bounty (and have at least one great new recipe to share), have dried masses of the squash for the winter, but the inevitable finally happened --- monster squash!  In my gourmet opinion, a monster squash is any summer squash where the seeds have become more than a thin line within the flesh.  There are so many tender, young squash competing for my attention that I figure a monster squash isn't worth my culinary time.

Of course, the permaculture side of me isn't willing to let even a monster squash go to waste, and once I started thinking up purposes for our one monster squash, I wished I had a few dozen more.  Here are my top ideas:

Saving summer squash seeds
  • Save the seeds.  Summer squash are on the easy seed-saving list.  Just let your monster squash keep growing for an extra week or two until the seeds inside are well developed, cut the squash open and carefully pull the seeds out, choose the fattest seeds that didn't get injured, then let them dry before putting the seeds away for next year.  The only trouble you'll get into is if you're growing a hybrid or if more than one variety of Cucurbita pepo is blooming in your garden at the same time.
  • Chickens eating squashFeed the chickens, pig, goats, etc.  Monster vegetables are good to pass off on your barnyard animals, especially if the flock doesn't have access to much vegetation.  If you're feeding monster cucurbits to chickens, be sure to cut the vegetable in half or into smaller sections and drop it cut-side-up in the pasture.
  • Feed the worms.  If you only have a small, under-the-sink worm bin, you'll have to be careful not to overload it.  But outside bins can handle lots and lots of monster squash.  For fastest results, cut the squash into chunks or throw it in the blender before feeding.
  • Compost it.  The last resort with any kind of organic matter, of course, is to toss it in the compost pile.  You might end up with some volunteer squash next year if your pile doesn't get hot enough, but won't have any other problems.

I saved the seeds from my monster crookneck squash and then gave the remains to the old girls, who asked for more.  What do you do with monster squash?

Our chicken waterer keeps the flock well hydrated after a hard day of scrounging for wild food.

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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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Last year I found a recipe for zucchini pickles (bread and butter style). We found that if we split them, deseeded, quartered and then sliced them in pickle chip sized bites. They were very good. We also found a recipe for "chow chow" (a sweet pickle relish) that used zucchini. In each of these recipes we've had zucchini and yellow squash. Because they're cut up and immersed, they hold up well, but aren't tough.
Comment by Steph Sun Jul 3 09:43:39 2011
I should have added the obvious --- zucchini bread. We're not big fans of zucchini bread or pickles, but if we had a much more limited garden, we definitely would find some way to eat these monsters rather than passing them on. Even though they get tough, they're still probably a lot better for you than grocery store food. Probably I'd try baking them like winter squash first.
Comment by anna Sun Jul 3 09:59:54 2011
I have been known to scoop out the seeds and stuff the shell with seasoned rice (or whatever you like). Bake and cover with melted cheese. A great meatless dish option.
Comment by merryann Tue Jul 5 03:21:09 2011
That's a great idea! If our tomatoes were ripe already, I could see it being really good to fill the center with raw eggs and tomato sauce, then top with cheese --- the eggs would poach as the squash bakes.
Comment by anna Tue Jul 5 08:30:09 2011
I was going to suggest the same thing as above - halve lenthwise, scoop out the seeds, stuff, cover with grated cheese, and bake. We usually use a tasty mince or chilli as the stuffing, but a tomato sauce sounds good - I'll have to give that a try this summer.
Comment by Darren (Green Change) Wed Jul 13 22:10:42 2011
What's perfect about ripping out the center and baking it is that the seeds are the chickens' favorite part. :-) Looks like we'll have to try that sometime.
Comment by anna Thu Jul 14 06:24:57 2011
At the end of the summer, leave the squash on the vine till they turn hard and orange, then use them for fall decor!
Comment by Kimberly Martin Mon Oct 5 09:22:59 2020

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