Butternut Squash & Squirrels

October 19th, 2008

Butternut Squash HarvestSo, I increased the amount of space devoted to edibles this year in order to save money. Involved in this was picking new spots that are NOT garden beds to plant things to see if they’ll grow.

I planted some squash on the south side of my house near my raised beds (but not within them) where I plant veggies yearly. This area used to be full sun but I realized this year that the tree back behind it has growth enough to make it only part sun. Additionally I assumed that since the spot where I planted my squash was well rested, it had been covered by mulch for 5 years, I thought I wouldn’t need to improve the soil. I planted it on the corner just outside a raised bed after digging away the mulch, and my plan was the wrap the vine around the raised bed.

So I planted my squash, and it wouldn’t germinate, because the squirrels kept digging up the seeds I planted and taking them. So, eventually I started seeds in pots and transplanted the vines.

Meanwhile, out in front of my house in one of my ornamental beds (that has very improved soil and is in full sun) a squirrel apparently hoarded my stolen seeds, and one of them sprouted. I decided to let it grow, and I’m glad I did. For without that squirrel, I’d have hardly any squash.

In the picture, all of the squash on the left was planted by the squirrel, all the squash on the right was planted by me. Notice the difference. In total my squash weighed 1 pound 6 ounces. The squirrel grew 41 pounds of squash, including a whopping 7 pounder which is about twice as big as the typical store bought kind I normally find.

So, it is official, at least where butternut squash is concerned. Squirrels are better gardeners than I am.

I like butternut squash because of all the types of squash, I think they taste the least bad. Honestly, after eating some travesty of a squash preparation at a family Thanksgiving when I was like 10 I’ve avoided them like the plaque, but I’ve since warmed up to them and cook butternut and spaghetti squash regularly. They also have a really long shelf life when properly stored, up to a year even, and are incredibly healthy.

As to how to cook them, try my butternut squash soup recipe. It’s good.

6 Responses to “Butternut Squash & Squirrels”

  1. Blushign Hostess  Says:

    Hello! I have read along with you and had your link posted for sometime now because I thought your efforts to garden for sustinence would be important to them – thank you! In an effort to grow more food stuffs, we too planted huge squash borders and initally they grew, flourished, and were gorgeous! My research, after seeing them destroyed from the inside out, tells me that they were attacked by squash bores which apparently live in the mulch we had nearby. I was heart broken! However, one butternut squash was resilent, as if a nod to me for trying!

    Now, I have learned my lesson. Got rid of the mulch, and threw handfuls of dried squash seeds I save each time we eat one into the cleared boarders agains. Now, even if they succomb again, we will have many weeks with vibrant squash borders free of cost. I will try again a number of the bore-prevention methods but if they fail I am resigned to their short-lived recycled-seed beauty!

    Great blog and thanks again!

  2. Stoughton Gardener  Says:

    I have been following your blog now for several months and very much enjoy it. I had almost the exact same thing happen to me! I hadn’t intended to plant squash, but a plant appeared in my south facing flower bed. It first looked a bit like a zuchinni, then my husband said it was a punkin, but I was convinced once I saw the ‘fruit’, it was a butternut squash. We have alot of squirrels, and I knew it must of been one of them who planted the seed, although I’m still not sure where the seed came from. The plant sprawled out of the bed and took over a large portion of the lawn. We continued to just let it grow and by the end of the season we had at least 8 ripe squashes between 5 – 7.5 pounds each. We also picked the unripe ones before the frost killed the plant. I have heard you can cook the green ones like zuchinni. Have not attempted this yet. My husband now wants to plant squash or pumkins all over the lawn so he doesn’t have to mow next year! I’m all for it!

  3. Ottawa Gardener  Says:

    I should get the squirrels to plant some for me. That is one impressive collection of butternuts.

  4. James Mann  Says:

    Now that’s a cool outcome isn’t it?

    Our first experience with growing squash isn’t nearly as entertaining.

    We just didn’t know what we were doing and planting everything more than a month too late. The squash managed to get to the size of golf balls, but we are looking forward to next year.

    We will get things started early, using our garage as a greenhouse of sorts.

    You should be sure to remember you little friends at Christmas time. 🙂

  5. sf gardener  Says:

    this is amazing. i should lure squirrels to my backyard (they all live two blocks down on Golden Gate Park) and see if they would grow me some carrots. i can never get those right. let’s see this year, i’m being really thorough with my watering.

  6. JP  Says:

    I am trying to grow longneck squash as part of my greater project, the sisters garden involving corn, beans & squash. I am having a hell of a time, mainly because the bean vines are overunning everything. The squirrels seem to be enjoying our tomato harvest yet again. We haven’t eaten any yet. I tried planting carrot from seed, with zero success.

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