In early February, since we were having such a mild winter, I decided to try and start some banana squash very early. The previous planting in the fall had been a bust because of the hot weather we had in the early fall, and by the time the plants started to produce, we had very short days, and a freeze in late November.
So I started the seeds in some plastic cups, and would set them out in the garden on during the day, and bring them in during colder nights.
|Banana Squash, acorn squash, and spaghetti squash seedlings enjoying a mild winter day|
The plants grew pretty quickly, and by April 1st, were already vining. I had mulched the area very deeply with lots of leaves, to keep weeds out, and to try and bury the vines with the mulch as they grew to help prevent the squash vine borers from laying eggs on the main parts of the vine.
|One of the banana squash plants by April 1.|
With the warmth of April, and the longer days, the plants started growing very quickly, and started producing flowers. By mid-April, the plants had gotten pretty large.
And a couple of female flowers had gotten pollinated, and the fruit had set.
They start off yellow, and look very much like a banana. You will get many female blooms, but most of them abort. You can pretty much tell when a fruit will abort because it will stop growing. Banana squash grow very quickly, so if you notice they stop growing, they will get aborted. It seems that once they get the around twice the size of a real banana, they have a good chance of making it.
Like I mentioned, they grow very quickly. When they are getting ready to pick, the will get pretty fat, and look more like a blimp than a banana. They will also start developing faint stripes, and the color will start changing from yellow to pink.
By early May, a couple of the squash were almost ready. I had to cover most of them with some tulle netting, because in the past I have had bugs, or slugs bite holes into the fruit, or even squash vine borers lay eggs on the fruit, and the larva bore into them.
We picked our first around May 11th, and then a few more shortly after.
The plants kept producing, and I gradually picked more as they were ready.
The vines started getting really affected by powdery mildew, and were also getting hit by squash bugs. The vines are so large that I didn't have time to go in and try and find or kill the squash bugs. Also I have noticed some squash vine borer damage. The combination of the three are pretty much killing the plant, so I decided to pick the rest of the squash, which pretty much looked ready anyway.
Today 6/12 I picked the last few, making a total of 11. The first one above is not in the picture since we already opened it.
I had 5 that were more than 20lbs, the biggest around 25lbs. The first one I opened, I baked about 2/3 of it, and pureed it(for pies, bread, pancakes, etc). The other third, I broke up into pieces and wrapped in saran wrap, for use in cooking. We have used it for various things such as cubing it, baking it, and sprinkling it with sugar/cinnamon, and for some other concoctions, such as in stews, and curry dishes. It has a surprisingly good and natural sweetness for a squash. Eating a piece of it raw almost tastes like a very firm cantaloupe.
Out of my 11, 2 did get some deep holes in them due to bugs, and I dug into the holes with a wire, and pulled out a small couple SVB grubs. Most others had some shallow holes, probably caused by slugs, but those healed up well. So I will have to check those two fruit with the SVB holes, to see if they will heal, or if not I may have to process them pretty soon. With so many squash, we'll need to get creative on how to use it.