From acorn to turban, winter squash are some of the most delicious and versatile ingredients of the season. Unlike summer squash, these are harvested in autumn when they are hard and ripe, and most varieties can be stored and enjoyed for use through the winter.
Here's a guide to 11 common varieties of winter squash, and what you need to know about each.
1. Acorn Squash
2. Banana Squash
3. Buttercup Squash
4. Butternut Squash
5. Delicata Squash
6. Hubbard Squash
7. Kabocha Squash
9. Spaghetti Squash
10. Sweet Dumpling Squash
11. Turban Squash
Summer squash are harvested when tender and still immature. They're usually separated into yellow, strait ot crookneck varieties; freen zucchinis, scallop-shaped "patty-pan" fruits; or round softball-sizedtypes. Summer squash grow fast, usually marturing within two months of planting, and continue toproduce all season long. They are prolific, reliable producers, but they don't so use them right away.
Select a site with full sun to light shadeand well-drained soil. Prepare the garden bed by using a garden
fork or tiller to loosen the soil to a depth of 12 to 15 inches, then mix in a 2 to 4 inch layer of compost.
Squash can be direct sown or started indoors. If starting indoors, plant seeds in individual pots 2-3 weeks
before last frost date. Wait until all danger of squash has passed before planting squash in the garden.
Set transplants 18 to 36 inches apart at the same depth of their container. If sowing the seeds directly in
the garden, plant seeds 1 inch deep, 2 to 4 seeds per foot.
Then seedlings to 1 plant per 18 to 24 inches when the first true leaves appear. When the first five leaves
appear, mulch to eliminate weeds and retain moisture. Provide about one inch of water per week. Contact
your local county extension office for controls of common squash pests such as cucumber beetles and
squash vine borers.
Summer squash develope very rapidly after pollination. Plan to go through your patch and harvest every
day or two.Squash that are small and tender have the best flavor and table quality. Pick elongated
varieties when they reach 2 inches or less in diameter and 6 to 8 inches long. Harvest patty pan types
when they are 3 to 4 inches in diameter.
From: National Gardening Association
Plant Care Guides
Big Boy Tomato Hybrid
Latin: Lycopersicon Big BoyBig Boy is a large-fruited F1 hybrid that has maintained its popularity for over 50 years.Agriculture has gone through a number of technological revolutions, but few have been as dramatic as was the introduction of hybrid seeds. While hybrid corn is the classic crop used to explain how hybridization works, I thought the Burpee’s Big Boy tomato might make a good example.
Once the significance of Mendel’s law of inheritance was understood at the beginning of the 20th century, it only took a few years for a workable system of hybrid seed production to emerge. Corn, because the male flowers are so conveniently large and easy to remove, became the first crop to be reproduced extensively by hybridization.
This early work was complete by the end of World War I; hybrid corn seeds were widely available a decade later. These new hybrids offered increased yields of about 30 percent over older, conventional line-produced seeds, so farmers were quick to adapt the new technology.
The use of hybridization in vegetable and flower crops was slower to develop. An old Burpee catalog describes their first significant hybrid as a marigold offered in 1939. In 1942, Dr. Oved Shifriss (1915-2004), was hired as the director of research for W. Atlee Burpee & Company. He was a vegetable breeder who added a dozen early hybrids of cucumber, eggplant, cantaloupe, watermelon, and the most lasting of all, the Big Boy tomato which appeared in 1949.
Big Boy, with sweet, fragrant, red, smooth-skinned fruit that can weigh a pound or more, is one of the most popular tomatoes. Experts often list it amongst their top five all-time favorites. The plant form is indeterminate, but it is bush-like in habit, a strong grower and blessed with good disease resistance. Big Boy was Burpee’s second hybrid tomato, but the vigor of this introduction was revolutionary and ushered in the modern era of tomato breeding. Shifriss was born in Ein Ganeem, a town in present-day Israel, where his father had emigrated from the Ukraine. Shifriss immigrated to the U. S. in 1936. He found a job at Burpee but then left in 1950 and returned to Israel. In 1958, he joined the faculty at Rutgers University in New Jersey as a geneticist, using ornamental gourds as his test plant.
Because Big Boy seed is still being produced, its exact parentage is a trade secret so giving the makeup of the hybrid is not possible. Hybrids are crosses between two inbred lines that have recognizable differences. If a good marriage is created, hybrids can have significantly increased yield and vigor, a term we call hybrid vigor.
In corn, it's easy to illustrate how hybrid vigor works. The afore mentioned increase in yield resulted from crossing lines with long, skinny ears with lines that had short, fat ears with more rows of seeds. The hybrids produced long ears with more rows, both dominant traits.
We can only speculate what Shifriss used in his hybrids, but Ball hints that one of the parents was an heirloom selection from the Odessa region of the Ukraine, the ancestral home of the Shifriss family.
By carefully studying plant types and understanding which are dominant and recessive traits, the breeder can begin to make crosses that assemble these characteristics into the hybrid progeny. Once the perfect parents have been identified, hybrid seed is made by hand crossing the two parents.
Because of all of the hand work involved, hybrid seeds are produced in the third world where hand labor is cheap. Central America, India and Kenya are the current countries where much of our hybrid seed is produced by the six or so mega-seed companies that provide all of our garden seeds. Because of the hand labor required to produce hybrid seeds, it's always more expensive than seeds grown as an inbred line, usually three to10 times more costly.
Unlike Big Boy, a superior introduction as attested by its long run of popularity, not all hybrids live up to their billing. As gardeners, we want plants that have good local adaptability, and sometimes an inbred line will be better adapted than a hybrid. A few plants -- for example petunias -- are only available as hybrids; their inbred lines having so little vigor that they are not considered worth growing.
Gardeners often want to save seeds. While this works just fine with an inbred line, it is an unrewarding experience with hybrids. If seeds are saved from a hybrid plant, segregation of the genes occurs in the F2 generation. Instead of being remarkably uniform, the most salient characteristic of hybrids, the population will vary wildly between the two extremes used to create the hybrid.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - August 20, 2004
Latin: Daucus carota
Carrots are one of the vegetables Americans have rediscovered as they embrace a more healthy lifestyle.All our lives, everyone from our mothers to government dieticians has urged us to eat our vegetables but, if you look at the data, we’re not very good at it. Not only is the quantity lacking but so is the variety. But changes may be afoot as Americans become more health conscious and explore new ways of incorporating fresh vegetables into our diets.
Carrots (Daucus carota) are leading the way in this resurgence of interest in eating fresh vegetables. In fact, it’s not just any carrot but the baby carrot that is leading the charge.
Carrots are biennial herbs grown as an annual. It’s a member of the parsley family that was first domesticated somewhere in Central Asia, probably in Afghanistan. It seems to have been introduced to southern Europe by invading armies around 2,000 years ago. In its original form, the root was often branched and red in color. When cooked, these red taproots turned an unappetizing brown.
Sometime in the mid 15th century, yellow mutants appeared in northern Europe. These were followed about 1700 by Dutch selections containing the orange, high carotene roots we know today. Until recent years, carrots were seldom eaten raw.
The familiar roadside weed Queen Anne’s Lace (wild carrot) with its lacy leaves and striking umbels of white flowers are found throughout the world. Though native to Central Asia and Europe, most authorities believe its worldwide escape is due to the reversion to ancestral forms from carrots allowed to flower from roots left in the garden over winter.
In the last four decades, carrot consumption has almost doubled to 12 pounds per person per year. Frozen and canned use of carrots is declining but fresh consumption is steadily increasing since the introduction of the baby carrot in 1988. That year, Mike Yurosek, a Bakersfield, Calif., vegetable grower, found a way to turn the lowly carrot into a user friendly and healthy snack food.
Fresh market carrot farmers were plagued by the vagaries of root growth. Because carrots are graded on size and appearance, only the straightest 7-inch long roots made it to the marketplace. The seconds were used as livestock feed. Yurosek purchased a green-bean cutting machine and started cutting his production into 2-inch long pieces and running the pieces through a modified potato peeler. The baby carrot was born, and what was once a discarded product, began selling for as much as five times the price of whole carrots. Today, two California farms provide 80 percent of the nation’s supply of these carrot nubbins.
Carrots are cool season vegetables and can be planted as a spring or fall crop. The straightest carrots are produced in sandy, well-worked soils free of clods and rocks. Spring seeding should begin in February or March when other cool season vegetables such as onions and broccoli go out. Plant seeds ¼-inch deep with three seeds per inch of row.
Multiple plantings can be made until about the time of the last frost. Fall planting can begin in late August or September when the hottest days of summer are past. Keep the seedbed well watered until germination occurs and seedlings are well established. Thin seed rows so that plants are about an inch apart. Carrots are ready for pulling in around 60 to 70 days. If you wish to produce your own baby carrots, just pull the plants a couple weeks earlier.
By: Gerald Klingaman, retired
Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - June 26, 2009
We’ve all been admonished to eat our vegetables, and sometimes we even follow that sage advice. I’m a big fan of most vegetables and especially like cabbage, broccoli, kale and brussels sprouts, but their pale cousin, cauliflower, has been harder to warm to. But the world, she is a-changing, and the white curds of cauliflowers are now available in designer shades.
Cauliflower is closely related to broccoli, both being members of the crucifer family and classified as Brassica oleracea Botrytis Group. All of the crucifers – everything from cabbage to kohlrabi – are native to the Mediterranean region and derived from ancestral wild cabbage that still grows in the region. Over the past 4,000 years, variants of the wild species have been selected and modified by farmers in what is one of the first examples of extreme genetic modification.
Like other crucifers, cauliflower is a biennial. To get it to flower plants must go through a winter with the typical 4-petaled yellow or white flowers produced on elongating shoots in the spring. However, cauliflower is a more temperamental crucifer than most. It is the most freeze sensitive of the crucifers and also intolerant of heat and drought.
The edible head (curd) of cauliflower is formed from fused flowers. White curds are the typical form and have been described in early writings since at least 600 B.C. The now war-ravage country of Syria was the source of some of the first forms of cauliflower grown in Spain that eventually spread to the rest of Europe.
Early Italian cauliflower cultivars have included color variants but it was not until 1970 with the chance discovery of an orange-headed mutation in a Canadian cauliflower field that the story of the modern colored forms began. A sample was collected of the plant, it was propagated and eventually made its way to the National Vegetable Research Center in England. Researchers there knew of the interest Michael Dickson, a Cornell University crucifer breeder working with cauliflowers, so they sent him samples. In 1989 Dickson released the orange headed breeding lines to commercial vegetable seed companies. The orange clone Cheddar was released in 2004.
Orange cauliflower has a high vitamin A content. Green cauliflower lines began appearing about 1990 and contain low concentrations of chlorophyll in the curd to produce the green shading. The purple cauliflowers rely on the anthocyanin pigment found in red cabbage to provide its color. Cauliflower is low in calories and carbohydrates, making it a substitute for starchy foods such as potatoes, rice and pasta.
Cauliflower can be grown as a spring or fall crop in Arkansas. Seeds are started indoors in the winter with the planting date delayed until about two weeks before the anticipated last frost date. White curded cultivars such as Snowball mature in about 10 weeks, so they should finish before the worst of the summer heat. Fall crops can be planted in August but careful attention must be paid to watering to assure success. For best results a uniform moisture and fertility regime must be maintained to assure successful production.
Some cauliflower clones are said to be “self-blanching,” a reference to the fact that the uppermost leaves curve inward and shield the developing curd from the direct rays of the sun. For older cultivars blanching is done by tying together the uppermost leaves in a loose bunch when the curd is 2-3 inches across. This reduces the chance of sunburn and prevents the development of chlorophyll, which can lead to an off taste. Blanching is more important for the spring crop than the fall crop.
Being a crucifer, cauliflowers are plagued by a number of diseases and insect pests. The cabbage looper is the most serious insect pest and early infestations can result in serious defoliation, which reduces curd development. BT, an organic insecticide, has proven effective in controlling this pest.
By: Gerald Klingaman,
Retired Extension Horticulturist - Ornamentals
Extension News - Nov. 20, 2015
Butternut Squash (Cucurbita moschata)
A vegetable I grew in my garden last year that I found easy to grow and easy to store was Butternut Squash. This is a winter squash and is a close relative to the pumpkin. I planted the 'Waltham' variety. This squash grows on a sprawling vine and should NOT be harvested until the skin is thick. After that it can be stored in a dry, cool location and it keeps well for months. Planting can be delayed until June since these squash are to be harvested near the end of growing season. Butternut squash is excellent for soup, for baking as a side dish, or used in a vegetable salad, etc. It has a wonderful flavor!
Waltham Butternut Squash
Squash like warm soil and are very sensitive to frost. So don’t be in a rush to plant early in spring, remember our average last frost date is April 16th and this year it could be later. Wait until the danger of frost has passed and soil has warmed to about 70 F, or about 2 weeks after the last frost date.
Mound up the soil to make a hill, the soil will warm quicker, you may also put black plastic over it to raise the soil temperature. Plant the seeds ½ to 1 inch deep in the mounded soil. Sow 4 to 5 seeds per hill and each hill about 4 to 8 feet apart. When the plants are 2 to 3 inches tall, thin to 2 to 3 plants per hill by snipping off unwanted plants without disturbing the roots of the remaining ones. These do take up space in the garden, but the vines can be trained vertically to reduce space. You may have to support the growing squash with slings, made from cloth or panty hose, as they grow vertically on the support.
Mulching plants helps retain moisture and suppress weeds. Mounding soil around the base of the plants can discourage squash borers from laying eggs. I have also found aluminum foil laid around the base and under the leaves confuses the squash bugs when they are in the moth stage. Keep your eyes out for the orange eggs on the underside of the leaves, if spotted remove them.
When the stems turn a light green yellow color, the squash should be fully ripe.The fruit is very uniform and will grow up to 8-10" long. The rind will be thick and tough. Cut, do not pull, the ripe fruit from the plant. Two to three inches of stem must remain for proper storing. This may increase the sugar content. The 'Waltham' variety has great storage characteristics and excellent taste!
Check out the Recipes on the blog
Baked Barley Risotto with Butternut Squash
Curried Butternut Soup
Sweet Potatoes are always successful in my garden even if the deer have eaten the vines to the ground several times over the summer season. Sweet potatoes aren't started by seed like most other vegetables, they're started from slips. Slips are shoots that are grown from a mature sweet potato. You can order slips from most seed catalogs or you can start slips from a sweet potato you buy at the store or one from your last years garden. I have had difficulty finding sweet potato slips locally which is why now I just start my own.
You will need a healthy sweet potato, usually I have to resort to getting one from the local grocery store. Now this may not always work depending on if they have sprayed the sweet potato with chemicals which prevent it from sprouting. Now is the time to start looking for a few good potatoes, each sweet potato can produce 12-20 slips so you don't need many mature potatoes. I have had success with our local grocery stores providing the mature sweet potatoes for this process.
When you get your sweet potatoes home, carefully clean them and then cut them in half or into large sections. To start your slips, you need to place each section in a jar or glass of water with half of the potato below the water and the other half above the water. I have used toothpicks stuck into the sides of the potato to hold it in place above the water. In order for the sweet potato to start budding it will need light and a warm place. A window sill that is close to a heating source is a good choice. In a few weeks your potatoes will be covered with leafy sprouts on top and roots on the bottom. Like the picture above.
Rooting The Slips:
Once your sweet potatoes have sprouted and the sprouts (slips) are 8-10 inches long, you need to root the slips.To do this, you take each slip and carefully twist it off of the sweet potato. Then lay the slip in a shallow bowl with the bottom half of the stem submerged in water and the leaves hanging out over the rim of the bowl. Within a few days roots will emerge from the bottom of each new slip. When the roots are about an inch long the new slips are ready to plant. To keep your slips healthy be sure to keep the water fresh and discard any slip that isn't producing roots or looks like it's wilting.
Planting Your Slips:
Sweet Potatoes are a warm weather crop and need the heat to get going so don't plant them until the ground temperature is warm. Recommended planting dates for our area is from May 1st to May 20th. They can't tolerate below 55 degrees for extended periods of time. Sweet Potatoes like loose soil and that's certainly an issue in most of our gardens. If you're going to plant them directly into your garden loosen the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches.
With a hand trowel, dig a hole about 4" or 5" deep and space 12-26 inches apart. Place one slip in each hole carefully covering all the roots and leaving the top leaves exposed. Fill the hole with soil and press the soil around the plant to get good contact with the roots and to remove any air pockets. Water your newly planted slips everyday for the first week then you can reduce the amount of watering. Sweet potatoes are drought tolerant once they are established.
Taking Care Of Your Sweet Potato Vines:
Deer and Rabbits love sweet potato vines and will chew them to the ground if you don't have them protected with a fence of some sort. You will probably still get some sweet potatoes but not a bumper crop if the deer and rabbits eat them back several times over the summer.
Submitted by Tamara Carl
Home Gardening Series University of Arkansas (FSA6018)
Baxter County Master Gardener Program • University of Arkansas System • Division of Agriculture • © 2013 BCMG