One of my most loved veggies is a squash. They're all delicious, and part of their palate pleasure is the variety of tastes and texture that greet a true squash eating gourmet. You get the stringy types, like spaghetti and gem squash, those delicate flavored summer squash, or the solid flesh winter ones, like Hubbard, butternut, buttercup and Queensland blue. There are hundreds of different squashes, all with unique characteristics. But their growth habit is usually in the form of flamboyantly sprawling, space-grabbing thick vines. Not really an option for those with small gardens, and a few raised beds.
This year I've had fun seeing if I could tame a rampant squash into a designated 3’x 5’ space. Actually, not one, but two, just in case an accident happened to one! I bought a couple of sturdy frames, and lashed some garden stakes between them. Seed catalogues were carefully examined, and I thought some butternut squash and a baby blue Hubbard would be good to start with. They're reasonably small, so weight bearing shouldn't be too much of a problem…
The baby blue turned out just fine. Its growth was polite and moderate. Two really nice looking squash are great fun to admire. There is a third one on there. I'm not at all sure it's a thoroughbred though! Bumblebees have quite a sense of humor it seems. They love to cross pollinate those squash flowers, leaving some very interesting unknown varieties to develop after their visits!
At this point, realising this was turning out to be a life or death plant emergency I cut up an old pair of pantyhose, and tied pieces of them like slings around the developing fruit. Anyone looking at them gets a giggle, but they do work well, expanding with the growth of the fruit. I've now had to supply a second sling to the Hubbards, and to my amazement the trellises are still managing to support this potential winter feast!
These neatly contained plants seem to thrive growing up instead of sprawling outwards. I wouldn't recommend trying them in a pot though, no matter how large. These guys have a massive root system, and need to be able to spread it out and way down into the earth too.
Here are some pics of this year's big squash adventure!