Haggard, Hardened and Productive

Wait, what date was this harvest?

No, not me! I’m beautif… have an honest face. You shut up. I feel the need to type, dear reader, will you then go with me on a verbal journey, not an overly verbose or deep one, just to the garden to admire the marvels of production, the harlequin squash? Cast your mind back to the chaotic first year, I, naive, young…inexperienced, budding Jack had been told of the marvellous ease that squash grew with. Then the hailstones came, the frost came, the powdery milDEW CAME! Ahem, no I’m fine, that first year I will ever and always recall harvesting my first squash, lifting it gingerly for fear of breaking, I still hold the same reverence for them now, that and I’m clumsy at the best of times, lifting it slowly from the plant, which came up with the squash because it was dead. How they ever grew that year I will never know. Care and diligence, perhaps. T’was love, dear reader, love did grow the squash! Or tomato feed, probably the feed. The second year led to the discovery that with good weather came a second harvest. This year has been a mixture, but thankfully there will be a second harvest, barring some unfortunate occurrence.

Like me falling on them while taking photos.

They’re growing at all angles.

One thing you will notice is how ugly and gnarled the plants become over time. The lowest layer of leaves dies away and you have to let them seal up, they’re hollow tubes, so no infection can make its way into the plant, which rest on a single, fairly narrow stem. The bad weather is causing the powdery mildew, though I’m treating them, it never vanishes. There’s dust blowing where it has dried, but it’s still there. The squash is growing at all angles now, harlequin seems to enjoy spreading out, there are huge tendrils with more leaves and flowers and fruits all spilling every which way. I love it, really I do.

I tried pruning last year and it’s a waste of time.

They can ripen very swiftly.

I’m currently at six harvested, two table king and four harlequin. The table king made a delicious, simple pasta sauce. Next I’ll be making cottage pies. What I’ve done this year is give them a dose of nettle and comfrey tea while the next fruit setting starts, it’s less balance, more general than geared towards fruit, but I’m hoping the it’ll give them a boost and maybe, just maybe, there might be third harvest. It can’t hurt that much. I don’t want them putting out too much green at this stage, but they’ll need to bloom for a third time if I want more squash after this. I did warn that I’d wax eloquent endlessly on squash, didn’t I, dear reader? I enjoy it and thankfully you can skip past this when you want.

Quite a few danglers this year.

Another is wedged between two lids and a block.

I do dispose of the lids after using, you never know what they might be retaining and it’d be  waste to damage a squash because you didn’t want to get a fresh coffee cup lid. Kindly donated by anywhere that has them. I do all I can to keep them happy and healthy, but I think there’s a point where the plant can grow no further, where it’s used more than it’s stored and just stops. I’d like to harvest them all year-round, but I’ll settle for the weeks or months of harvesting. It’s an enjoyable time, in no way diluted by repetition. I’ll be back again soon, dear reader.

All that growth with such a thin centre.

Mounding the earth around it at the beginning helps so much with stability.

The second growth never quite matches the first.

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