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.
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.
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 incredibly 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 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.
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.