In my last post, I talked about my whopper squashes being the ‘good’ in the good, bad, and ugly of high summer. However, this big, incredibly productive 2018 vintage has also become the bad…
‘Bad?’ I hear you cry! ‘How can massive squashes be bad?’
Well, let me explain.
When your main bed is 12ft by 6ft, and the two squashes that you plant out in two of the corners grow so large that they take over three-quarters of that bed, you’ve got a few problems.
For a start, it looks very untidy. I’ve always felt that a few unruly plants don’t matter too much when you’ve got an allotment. Allotments can be scruffier by nature, and so long as you don’t upset the committee, everything is pretty free and easy. When your patch is in your garden, in full view from the house, there is a bit more of a duty to keep things in check.
Everything Else is Smothered!
However, the primary problem is that the squashes have smothered everything else in the bed. Underneath the dense foliage lurks underdeveloped and neglected carrots, leeks, French beans, salad leaves, curly kale, and cavolo nero. There has only been room for a crop of mangetout and beetroot at the top end of the bed. Everything else is fighting against the squashes.
This has resulted in a few difficulties for the other baby plants. It’s been a very dry summer of course, but when it has rained, little water has broken through to the other plants, meaning I’ve had to water a lot more. The sunlight getting through has also been reduced to what a seed packet might call ‘partial shade’.
Spoiling Lewis and Rory’s Fun
There has also been an impact on the boys’ fun and interest too, after an exciting start for them to the season. Both Lewis and Rory’s intrigue in the veg patch heightened at the beginning of the year. Lewis helped sow most of the seeds and took great pride in telling friends and visitors about the veg patch.
Before the squashes took over, we harvested some early carrots and took daily trips down the end of the garden to pick the excellent mangetout crop. In fact, so much was his interest this year, that he actually cried when I picked some mangetout without him!
Could I Really Not Grow Squashes Next Year?
As the squashes began to dominate, little else was available to harvest. Looking to the future and trying to foster the boys’ interest in the veg patch, I think that big, dominating plants with long growing seasons could be on their way out. Lots of rows of quick growing crops to ensure regular harvests may well be the way to go.
Yet on the other hand, I’ve always grown squashes. They are so versatile, and if stored well, provide a brilliant crop to use through the winter. And they’re a true money saver as well. At around £1.50 a kilo in the shops, most of this year’s squashes are worth well over £2 – and there are 10 of them waiting to be had!
In fact, squashes are one of my most blogged about subjects. From why me and my wallet love a squash, to how to plant them, 5 great varieties to try and my 5 favourite recipes, I seem to very much enjoy these wonderful things. Could I really not grow butternut squash in 2019?
Hmmm. This is going to take some thought…