Delicata Squash "Zeppelin"
Delicata squash is one of the treats of fall. Sweet, rich, creamy flesh has the buttery quality that other small squash usually lack. This was my favorite lunch back when I worked in an office with a microwave--a quick and satisfying meal. This strain is particularly long-keeping for a delicata, giving you great meals through January. Fruits weigh 1 to 2 lbs, up to 6 good fruits per plant. Skin is tender enough to eat, the flesh is thick. fine-textured, a rich orange color, and very sweet. Cucurbita pepo, like zucchini, pumpkins, and acorn squash. Another delicious addition to the public domain by Frank Morton, who has pledged it as an OSSI Open Source variety. 25 seeds
Squash plants are heavy feeders. They love to grow on compost piles or rubbish heaps. If you compost the soil well before planting, or bury kitchen waste, manure, or other nitrogen source a foot deep under the seeds, they will love it. Plant in clusters, called hills, of 3-5 seeds. Bush varieties can go 2-3 feet apart, vines 4-6 feet apart. If you use beds, run the hills down the middle of the bed. If you use rows, make them about 6' apart. If you are planting vining types and need to get barrows, carts, or tillers between, use rows 12' apart.
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.