Update: Just received word about the mystery squash. They have no idea, it could be anything. So we wait until it fully grows and hope it isn’t huge. Mystery remains unsolved and Jack remains undaunted by unknown seeds.
It’s funny how if you’d asked me why I took to gardening like I have, I’d honestly have no answer for you. Same as how I’ve kept the weight off for four years now. I guess there was just something inside of me that needed to be nurtured, to grow and in taking back my life with my weight-loss and health journey I’ve also found a new unexpected joy in the garden. My garden. I still have my struggles, lord knows everyone does, but I have something they might not have. I have squash! You thought I was going to be be and profound, didn’t you dearest reader?, Well, maybe in an obtuse way I am. Anyway, now that you’ve, I’ve then, don’t nitpick pedantic reader, mentioned squash there is something I’d like to share.
I mentioned, maybe here, maybe Twitter, maybe I didn’t, about my harlequin squash topped Cottage Pie, mostly as pertained to harlequin’s great similarities to potatoes. This is the second trial of this first harvested squash. The first endeavour was sautéed harlequin. Words honestly fail me here, but I’ll try to muddle though for your vicarious pleasure. No that does not have anything to do with vicars! Harlequin is a firm fleshed squash, you’ll need a sharp knife to get through it. But once you boil it it begins to flake almost, it softens so easily, but isn’t wet or watery, no, not at all. Then you start to fry it and then the magic happens. That exterior turns brown and crisps up, whilst the inside softens further and fluffs up. What you end up with is the closest to a fried potato I’ve ever eaten. I couldn’t get enough, each bite of this slightly sweet, creamy fleshed berry is an absurd delight in texture and taste. Now the epitome of harlequin culinary endeavours: The pie. Firstly, notice that crispy top, that’s no illusion, no chimera of a mind deprived of potato toppings, that’s just mother nature’s gift to the nightshade intolerant, or at least some hybrid gardener’s. Underneath is where the magic happens, with just a little cheese to supplement the squash we have a buttery, though there is none, creamy, nada, and smooth dense velvety, oh be still my heart, incredible tasting topping. Every bite is beyond description. You know I’m not one to gush about food, but on this rare occasion I understand those who do. This squash should be heralded as the vegetable of nightshade suffers everywhere. Consider this: I’ll be spending the rest of my gardening days growing this squash, I’ll wait almost a year for each harvest and only enjoy it for a short while. But it’ll be worth it, every single time.
Deep breath. I cannot wait for the next harvest, the golden nugget may have been a poor choice, but I have no regrets worth bothering about as long as I have my harlequin squash. Which, after harvesting, have started to grow more! I’ve never had the weather before now to have this occur. How wondrous. I’m riding high right now. The plants are doing well, mostly in regards to yield since it’s mostly harvest time right now. The flowers are still blooming so we should have colour in the garden for Fall at least. I’ve also acquired three big wooden crates that I’ll be converting into planters for raised beds. Another two might be arriving too. They’d have been broken up for firewood if I hadn’t taken them. They cost about two Euro a piece and no that’s not a typo. You’d be amazed what can be re-purposed. Not to say it’ll all be cheap, but I’m being frugal. I’ve bought four hay-rack wall-planters, named after what they used to feed horses with in barns, that were then re-purposed into planters, at about a quarter of the usual price. The prices on garden goods is lower at this time of year so if you’re in the market for anything now is the time to keep an eye out.
No idea if I’ll see butternut. There are babies, see how I say babies instead of immature squash? I’m lovable I am, quiet you!, but you know how it goes. At least I know they’re too large for me to manage. Never say die though, I’ll keep looking after them and training them to climb the teepee as best I can. I wanted to try growing them and I am. Three huge plants, only one of which has really taken to its teepee, the other one has fallen off, while the one off-camera is somewhere along the ground. Go set fruit and I’ll try to care. Callous? Moi? Yeah, you learn to be, the more you have the less of your attention is available for each plant. Saves worrying if nothing else.
It’s in bloom and it’s got an almost ripened squash. Last year I was removing ripened squash from dead and dying plants. This year is really spoiling me. But I’ve know hard-times and I’m prepared to treat those two impostors just the same, Kipling, If, go look it up. I don’t really have much work to do these days. Just feeding and harvesting. All the cabbages are up, same with cauliflower, most of the broad beans, probably more I’m forgetting. I do have a resurgence of basil, which may yet reach maturity. Fingers crossed. I have turnips, carrots and beetroot in pots. They were roughly planted so it’s hard to say if they’ll grow fully. The turnips look okay, the carrots a tad cramped, the beets look fine, but who know? They just replaced the dead berry bushes. I’ll take a chance on anything. Heck, I have yellow strawberry growing! Yeah. I’m spreading those around as I have way too many. I’ll want more red strawberries so I’ll be pinning and potting runners in the not so distant future.
Okay, what? Why are there tights on my squash? Everyone needs a hobby, scandalised reader.. Kidding. Aside from perverse squash fetishists, the reason is that the tights support the growing squash, they’re tied at the top, and expand while it grows, while also retaining no water. It’s not as mind-blowing a tip as I’d have though, it’d be better if you could just buy the nylon, or whatever it’s made of, I’m no expert on fashion, and make it into a cradle for the squash. time will tell how this fares. If nothing else it was worth a giggle or two. If anyone has any tips on supporting vertical grown squash then please let me know.
So I’ll be busy in the garden for a while yet. Then when everything is done it’s time to get ready for next year. Filling planters, digging, drilling, hanging baskets. All kinds of fun. Then I just wait and poor Jack shrivels up. I’ll just read a lot and complain mostly. I’ll be making muffins his week, nothing new, just a mix of things, whatever I have too much of probably. The strawberry and peanut ones turned out delicious and I haven’t eaten them all yet. I’ll probably be posting again about my four years accomplishment, I’m afraid I’m no longer the golden-boy, the man of the moment, I’m just a thin person now. It’s bitter-sweet in a way. The attention was nice, but it’d be exhausting to have that all the time. I an see why people falter, I won’t though so have no fear. No fat-Jack is on the horizon. Just fat squashes. Until we meet again. See ya.
P.S That means please shush, no it’s not Post Script. Why would I post a script to you? Although The Life and Times of Jack does have a certain ring to it. I just got my third planter and it’s a monster. Thick wood and square. With legs too. Well pallet legs, but still, no sinking into watery mud. I can’t wait to dig out the garden and get these into place. Once treated and lined there staying put for a long time. Next year is looking to be a good year. I’ll have my second-hand greenhouse, my recycled planters, my cobbled together plastic crate planters and whatever else I can get my hands on. Okay that’s really it this time. Take care.