Radicchio harvests and butternut squash preparations

Right now we’re harvesting raddichio di Treviso (recipe in the book, Minding My Peas and Cucumbers: Quirky Tales of Allotment Life, if you don’t know how to cook them, or if you’ve grown them and found them too bitter to eat) which, to my mind, is as pretty as any houseleek or ornamental cabbage, and much tastier.

We’ve also been busy repurposing stuff – the bamboo that we cut down is going to be part of the butternut squash frame: OH has drilled the holes in the frame and we’re poking the bamboo stems down to make supports for the squashes themselves. You can get some idea of the scale from OH's hand in the photo!

Butternut squash are relatively heavy and need a lot of sun to cure, so we have to find a balance between their weight and wanting as many of them to last as long as possible. Most people grow them along the ground, where the vines spread prolifically, but we find that they often get slug or woodlouse damage at the point where the young green squash forms and touches the soil, and once that happens the squash does not store well. Also, the last couple of years our wetter late summer weeks have caused many ground-growing butternuts to get mildew.

So the frame: we will tie in the vine to uprights and stretch wire across to make some horizontal supports to which we can attach the squashes – sometimes I’ll crochet a little hammock to support the squash, so it stretches as the squash does. Yes, I know how insane that sounds, but believe me, you can do the same thing with the net bags from supermarkets, as long as the squash has cured enough for the netting not to cut into the flesh and as long as the bag is big enough to stretch to the full size of the squash.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, February 27, 2012


Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Do you grow (in England) the lovely little green buttercup pumpkin? It roasts nice and dry and full of flavour.

It's getting harder and harder to find in the supermarkets here - New Zealand - because somewhere in the last ten years a very foolish group of people have crossed it with a orange squash and destroyed it (no flavour and mushy). I think the cross has been done to sell into the Japanese market. Luckily I can still buy the old buttercup seed from heritage seed sources so can grow in garden.

March 2, 2012 at 12:04 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

We don't, but we do grow the Turks Turban which is much the same in terms of dryness and flavour, it seems to me. squashes are promiscuous and will cross pollinate very readily, so we always have to buy new seed as we grow at least two varieties every year and they are in too close a proximity on an allotment to be sure they haven't cross-bred.

March 6, 2012 at 3:50 AM  

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