Squash Can Be Your Staple Crop


Squash storage shelves and a happy squash eater 

Squash storage shelves and a happy squash eater.

When people hear that I run a farm, they ask, “What do you grow?”  My standard reply is, “Everything we love to eat!”  We specialize in generalizing, growing a varied year-round diet literally from soup to nuts. But if I had to choose one crop to focus on, it might be squash.

Winter squash, specifically, the tasty orange-fleshed varieties I love, the ones that we actually eat. Squash just feel like really good return on investment—I put one seed in the ground, tend it well, and then it sprawls 10 feet in all directions and gives me a few hundred seeds where I only planted one. Given the choice between the casino, stock market, or squash patch, I’ll put my money in the squash.

Understanding Squash Varieties

And I do put money and land into them. I buy good seed for my favorite varieties. I’ll tell you why it’s important to get seed from a conscientious plant breeder in a minute. I have tried many different kinds of squash, and settle again and again on two staples, both bred or recommended by my plant hero Carol Deppe in Oregon. One is called 'Buttercup' (NOT butternut, which is a separate species of squash which I also love but doesn’t grow reliably in my cool Pacific Northwest summers).  'Buttercup' has forest-green skin and deep orange flesh, very similar to what you might have seen called Kabocha at the grocery store.  The flesh is sweet and tastes like chestnuts.  It’s sweet enough to make into a “pumpkin” pie, yet savory enough to make a delicious soup or puree. 

The other variety is 'Candystick Dessert' delicata.  I have grown several strains of delicata squash over the years, and most of them are good for sure. 'Candystick' is just drool-over-it awesome though.

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