Ebony Acorn Squash (Table Queen)
Acorns are very popular winter squash: small enough for one or two people, with rich, moist, nutty flesh that is easily baked in either a microwave or conventional oven. I used to take these to work and cook them in the break room microwave for lunch. Short, compact vines ripen several handsome small to mid-size squash. Earlier than most other winter squash, but be aware that the sugars develop after the pigment in the skin. They turn dark green before they are really ripe. Don't pick them til the paler spot on the bottom turns orange, for full sweetness. If you, like me, have been disappointed by acorn squash from the store, that's probably why--they were picked too soon.
They are Cucurbita pepo, like zucchini and pumpkins, and ripen faster than the big maxima squashes. They are not the longest keepers, but they will last into the new year, after a minimal 2-week curing period. 30 seeds
After the sprouts are a few inches tall, thin to the best 3 plants per hill. Hoe out all the weeds in the bed or row, piling some dirt at the base of the plants. Then if you put down mulch, it will prevent weeds and keep the squash off of damp soil. If squash bugs are a problem for you, sprinkle well with diatom dust.
Summer squash should be picked every day or two, and eaten while small (6"-8".) The reason people complain about having too many zucchini is that they let them get too big. Store squash in a dry place. Even zucchini keeps better in a dry airy room than in the fridge, where it molds.
Winter squash is ripe when there is no green left in the stem--it should be hard and woody or corky--and the skin should be too hard to poke with a fingernail. Regardless of ripeness, harvest before frost or they will rot. Use any unripe or bruised ones first. The rest should be put indoors to cure for a month before eating. This makes them much sweeter. Handle them gently and wipe if needed but don't wash. They can be stored in any dry place that stays above 50 degrees. Check often for soft spots, and don't forget to use them for soups and pasta as well as roasted and in pie.
Seed saving: Insect-pollinated, requires at least 500 ft isolation in home gardens (1/2 mile if selling seed.) Our offerings include 3 species: Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin, delicatas, acorns, and most summer squash), Cucurbita maxima (Buttercup, Lower Salmon River, Stella Blue, Zapallo), and Cucurbita moschata (Butternut, Tromboncino.) Members of the same species will cross with each other, but not with other species. So if you have the isolation to grow squash seed, you can have one of each species and still save seed.