mother of hubbards

turks turban gardening blogAfter months of dominating the veg patch with their vicious vines, all the winter squash plants have yellowed, shriveled or succumbed to mildew. There are still a few valiant flowers and newly formed gourds that must have been brought on by this warm spell. But today I decided it was time to brandish the kitchen knife and go for the chop.

Considering my utter lack of common sense when planting them, and the way the Blue Hubbards overpowered the bed, I was pleased with our harvest.

barrow of squash gardening blog

pumpkin harvest

Butternut Ponca and Acorn Table Ace were almost annihilated by the blue brutes, but managed to produce one gourd each. We have two Marina di Chioggia, which look fantastic with their deep green skins, and three orange-green Turks Turbans.

The Blue Hubbard yield is six. They are so huge I feel quite overwhelmed at the thought of cooking them. When I tried to weigh the biggest one I got an error message on the scales.

The hubbards have been consigned to the garden shed until I can work up the courage to deal with them. But the others look quite pretty in the window.

squash in the window gardening blog

 

All the winter squash we grew this year are heirloom varieties from Pennard Plants

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keeping the pumpkins comfy

blue hubbard gardening blogOur pumpkin patch is becoming more ridiculous every day.

Perhaps I should have checked the descriptions of the varieties I was buying, rather than just choosing names that I liked. But as I sifted through packets of heirloom seeds at last autumn’s Malvern Show, I had no idea what monsters lay within.

When vines started scaling the veg patch fence, I assumed they would grow nice compact gourds that would hang prettily as they ripened. As they reached rugby-ball proportions, Steve said something about Monty Don using hammocks to take the weight of pumpkins that he grows up poles. So I tore a pair of tights and rigged up supports for two particularly big ones that were threatening to take the fence down with their weight.

In two weeks they have gone from this…

Blue Hubbard gardening blog

to this…

blue hubbard gardening blog

Now that they’re taking shape, I’ve identified them as Blue Hubbard – evidently a mammoth variety. Since they are bursting out of their tight-hammocks my latest tactic is to prop them up with any suitably sized pots and troughs we have lying about.

I Googled ‘Blue Hubbard recipes’ to see if it was really going to be worth sacrificing our fence for them. Apparently they taste great, but are a real beast to get into. One recipe suggested using an axe to crack them open, and said one gourd can feed a family for a week. Maybe M can take some in for her nursery’s harvest festival. If she can carry them.

turks turban gardening blog

Turk’s Turban – at least these are growing on the ground

Despite the Blue Hubbard dominance, we do have a few Turk’s Turbans quietly lurking. They seem to be developing nicely – and a little more sensibly – on the ground. I have popped bits of tile underneath the gourds to stop them rotting if we get a lot of rain.

acorn table ace gardening blog

that’s more like it – something that can be tackled with a kitchen knife rather than an axe

I also spotted a couple of bright green ones growing this week. The plants are all in such a tangle that I can’t trace the route from the fruit back to the label. But I think they are a variety called Acorn Table Ace.

Sadly the other two varieties we grew – Marina di Chioggia and Butternut Ponca – seem to have been completely overwhelmed by the brutish Blue Hubbards. I waded into the patch with wellies and gloves on earlier to have a good rummage under the scratchy leaves, but can’t see any signs.

gardening blog

vicious vines that irritate my skin, as well as threatening to crush the fence

I’m going to reserve final judgement until we’ve harvested and attempted to cook this year’s crop. But I reckon when I’m buying seeds for next year, I’ll be reading the packets more carefully. I might also remember to give the plants a bit more space.

You can see what the squash plants were up to a month ago here.

Have you experienced pumpkin domination in your garden? I’d love to hear about it – or get some recommendations for more manageable varieties.