High Summer: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Part 1: Good

squashplants

So this year, my butternut squashes are outrageous.

Like, I’ve-never-seen-anything-quite-like-it-before levels of outrageousness.

I planted 2 squash plants on the edge of a raised bed in Spring, with the idea that I would be able to train the runners to grow out and along the path, rather than sprawl over the rest of the bed. As you’ll see from the photo, this hasn’t been the case, and my two squash plants have basically turned triffid, but a nice one.

Biiiiig Squashes
This has simultaneously become the good and the bad of the Summer (but not the ugly – that’s my greenhouse, which I’ll share with great embarrassment later in the week…). The good (bloody good) is because already I have 10 huge squashes, the biggest of which hits the scales at a heavyweight 3.1 kg, whilst the smallest has broken the 1.8 kg mark. And it’s only just turned August.

squashes

Excuse the dodgy pyjama trousers. It was early.

Normally, a squash plant will typically produce 2-3 medium sized squashes, with maybe one being a couple of kilos if the plant fancies showing off. To get 10 fruits from 2 plants, has left me bewildered as well as chuffed.

Why Are The Squashes So Big?
I’ve been asking myself how this has happened, and after some pondering I think I might have the answer. I built the raised beds on an area that I cleared over the Winter, and once completed, the soil was full of decomposed plants and roots. At the time I thought that the soil looked incredible fertile, and it seemed I may well have been proved right.

Also, the previous owner of the house kept chickens, and when we came to look around before with the estate agent, I seem to recall that the chicken pen was located roughly where my squashes have gone ballistic. Although I’ve never used chicken poo as a manure, I’ve read that it is the veg growing equivalent of rocket fuel, so perhaps this year’s exceptional squash results are also something to do with the garden’s last incumbents.

Harvesting Early
With such growth so early in the season, I have been forced to pick the squashes to stop them growing too large and turn into giant exhibition specimens rather than tasty produce for the plate. I’ve never done this before, normally waiting until the fruits are ready in September and October so I’ve no idea how things will go, but I’m hoping they will still ripen up off the plant okay.

Incredibly, the two plants are also still flowering. There seems to be no stopping them. I doubt that this late in the year anything else useful will yield, but it’s a very happy feeling knowing just how fertile and rich the soil in my beds are.

10 thoughts on “High Summer: The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. Part 1: Good”

  1. Good to see you posting again! My squash plants have loved the hot summer, not so much big fruit as lots of them!

  2. I so envy you! Compared to yours, I’d rate the fruits of my squash plants as below average. I thought I’ve tried everything but since you mentioned chicken poo, I’ll be sure to try it out since I have a neighbour who is raising chickens.

    Thanks for the your post!

  3. Andy Bennett-Rice

    Hi, i read your post about chicken manure pellets with interest and a smile. This is my first year of growing butternuts and a pumpkin, i dug a hole, filled it with a mixture of compost and chicken manure pellets and now i have 4 huge butternuts and a pumpkin the other allotment holders call ‘the beast’, it is about 500mm in diameter. I think there is something in your chicken poo theory.

  4. Hi Andy – thanks for this, good to hear that someone else is pondering the benefits of chicken manure. Think I’m going to put some feelers out to see if I can get hold of some for next year.

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