I really enjoy butternut squashes. They have a smoother texture than other squashes, making them great for soups, but they can also be used in any recipe that calls for “pumpkin” – pies, breads, torts, even pasta. I picked this butternut because it’s not one you can find in the grocery store. After growing it, I have a definite list of “con’s” for this variety but I do plan on growing it again - because it is so much tastier than the grocery store varieties.
|Photo by Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company|
So, let’s get the list of “con’s” out of the way (as always, this is geared toward my Ogden-based gardening crowd)…
- It does not like our dry heat. It wilted badly every afternoon unless I watered it extra. I hate watering extra.
- It is susceptible to Powdery Mildew. While it didn’t die once the mildew hit, it also didn’t produce any more viable fruits – so I only got 5 fruits from 6 plants. I didn’t try any treatments during the season (like the milk-water solution), so I will try that if need be next time I grow it. I’m going to wait a season before growing again to help with disease control in my garden.
- The bumpy skin, though aesthetic, is a pain in the patookey if you are trying to process the fruits raw. The bumpy skin also makes better hiding spots for critters and moisture.
So, with all of that – why would I grow it again, and why would I recommend it to others?
- It really does taste better than the Waltham butternuts
- It’s different. You aren’t going to find this beauty anywhere but a few specialty markets at certain times of the year.
- It is also a great keeper, lasting over 6 months in a root cellar.
- Each fruit is pretty effing huge for a butternut. In the 7 to 10 pound range.
- It is easy to know when the fruit is mature; the skin gets beautifully bumpy and turns a dark khaki tan.
There are a few things I’d like to try next time I grow it – the first being to actually treat the Powdery Mildew if it shows up again. This year was a bad year for that problem in Ogden & Weber County.
After that, I will try a better soil nutrient mix. The bed the butternuts were in was heavily amended with a LOT of coffee grounds – so it may have been too nitrogen rich, giving rise to some beautiful leaves but not a lot of fruits.
Finally, I want to experiment with a fabric floating row cover over it to see if the filtered light helps it handle our higher-altitude sunshine, and do a drip line irrigation to help keep it watered without splashing the leaves as much. I hand watered everything this year, which I know probably made things more susceptible to the mildew.
Despite the potential extra work these butternuts may require for our hot, dry, high climate – I do hope you’ll give this sweetie a try. I’ll be sure to link an update next time I grow it.