Squashed!

I love this time of year. For reasons I’ve never quite pinned down, I always have a tremendous burst of creative energy in early autumn which normally finds me dashing about planning all sorts of new activities: decorating, gardening, woolly things . . . you name it, I have a new project in the pipeline. I’m not sure why this happens. Maybe it’s a natural extension of our busy squirrel behaviour at this time of year, harvesting and storing food for the future, or perhaps just a change in light levels that triggers something deep within me. I feel a heightened awareness of colours and textures around me that just makes me itch to do something, make something.  Anyway, this year I am trying very hard to keep a lid on it; I have so many things on the go at the moment, I really, really don’t need anything else to do (tempted though I am to dig my spinning wheel out of storage and indulge myself with the lovely feel of fleece flowing through my fingers . . . no, no, no!). That said, I can still enjoy the inspirational sights that have appealed to my senses this week, whilst sitting firmly on my hands!

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Our last tripod of Asturian beans was ready for harvesting this week, yielding quite a pile for the freezer.

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With the beans gone and summer cabbage long over, I started to clear the site for our planned polytunnel. Considering this was such a rough and stony patch, the soil is deep and rich after cultivation. I can’t clear the whole lot yet as the sweetcorn is still going strong. I love the way those sunny nasturtiums have self-set themselves and are rambling quite happily below the corn. They – like morning glory – literally grow like weeds here, and I’m thrilled to see little plants popping up in the most unexpected places; we also have two lots in a year, one in May and one now. Suits me fine!

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Something else having a second go are the figs. The local bird population is giving them a lot of attention (I can’t blame them really) but there is a big enough crop to go round. We are experimenting with a few different fig recipes but quite honestly I think they are at their best eaten sun-warmed straight from the tree. I am certainly enjoying them for breakfast with Greek yogurt, a sprinkling of our walnuts and a drizzle of village honey. The latter is pure indulgent decadence on my part: the figs are oozing with sweetness (and I don’t have a sweet tooth at the best of times) but there is something so good about that raw honey flavour. Mmm!

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I admitted several weeks ago that as far as the squash patch was concerned, I had lost complete control. A few days ago, one of the Crown Prince decided to harvest itself and break free; Roger found it halfway down the bank below and rescued it, along with a Guatemalan Blue which was causing a bit of a stir in the lane.

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Now this is a bit of a problem with our garden: heavy squash under the influence of gravity on a steep mountainside in danger of taking out several of Antonio’s sheep as they bowl down towards the village. In the name of maintaining good neighbourly relations, we decided the time for the Great Squash Harvest had come. Roger waded manfully into the jungle (definitely a wellies and knife job) and passed the squash over the fence while I hauled them away in the wheelbarrow.

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By my own admission, even I am asking just how much squash two people can eat . . . and this was supposed to be a scaled-down -I’m-only-planting-a-sensible-amount year. To date: 4 Guatemalan Blue, 9 Crown Prince, 9 golden butternuts (Harrier and Hunter) and 14 ‘Barbara’ butternuts, not to mention the few we’ve already eaten and the pile still to be harvested (yes, they are still growing). I spent a happy but energetic hour wiping them off and carrying them up to the horreo where they are now basking on the sunlit balcony like a bunch of bronzing beauties.

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So . . . next year, as well as keeping a grip on my creative projects, I think I better have a more sensible squash planting moment, too! 🙂

 

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4 thoughts on “Squashed!

  1. I count less than one squash per week – you’ll be fine! Just substitute roast squash with herbs for potatoes a couple of times a week in that lovely new oven of yours… Our squash harvest is not bad, considering the devastation of plants in June. Luckily the prolific ones seem to have survived. Already had a couple of the smaller ones stuffed with cheese and rabbit stifado.

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  2. I think we could end up looking like squash by the end of winter, but I’m not complaining, they are so good! Favourites so far this week have been butternut oven ‘chips’ cooked in a homemade Cajun-style mix and a whole Crown Prince (the smallest) baked and stuffed with cheesy leeks. Tonight it’s squash, leek and bean soup with walnut bread . . . just another hundred or so recipes required! I think anyone who manages a decent outdoor squash harvest in northern climes is a star, it’s not easy, especially when the weather devastates young plants. Do you grow any in your polytunnel? It was certainly the only way we managed to raise butternut varieties on our Welsh mountain. No such problems here . . . 🙂

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    • The polytunnel is full already, without any squashes! I need to find a way to squeeze in some sweetcorn next year (and some early potatoes, but they should be gone by the time the sweetcorn goes in). We don’t grow any butternuts, just squashes that need less than 100 days to ripen. Anja’s Russian varieties do very well here and things like Bon Bon, Gold Nugget, Marina di Chioggia. Have a Silver Bell in the oven right now, to be served with leftover pheasant curry shortly.

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  3. Butternuts are definitely better suited to longer, warmer growing seasons, that’s for sure. I enjoyed the Marina di Chioggia last year but haven’t grown any this time as I really wanted to try the Guatemalan Blue seed Sarah gave me – and there really IS a limit to how many huge squash we can eat! We had our first picking of sweetcorn a couple of nights ago, it’s the first we’ve grown in many years (like you, it was always a polytunnel job in the UK) so it feels like a real treat. Very delicious, too, chargrilled over the flame hole of the stove.

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