20 June 2011

Our Squashes


Blue Hubbard Squash

Every farmer wants a few choice varieties of squashes, even if he does not expect to raise any for sale. They are extremely handy to have round, not only at Thanksgiving time but later in the winter. They make the best of pies, and a little squash on the table with a boiled dish is never out of place. It is just one of those things that no one likes to do without, and so we must raise it.

In 1848 Captain John Bridges brought two squashes to Marblehead from the West Indies. After cutting one up, he gave a piece to William Stanley that contained a few seeds in it. The quality of this squash was so fine that he took pains to plant the seed, and the result was the Hubbard squash, from which we have what is called the Marblehead squash, and some other varieties.

The Hubbard has now become one of the standard squashes of the country, and no garden appears to be complete without it. For cooking, it is not in its prime till December, and ought not to be eaten till then.

For an earlier squash, the Turban is superior to the Hubbard. It is good even when half grown, and continues to be good up to December, when the Hubbard is approaching its prime condition. The one very properly follows the other, and a few Turbans are quite as necessary as a good many Hubbards. The Turban has been greatly improved within a few years.

The Marrow squash is, on the whole, the most widely known and most generally cultivated of any, and must be regarded as one of the most valuable. The seed was introduced from abroad about forty years ago, and first grown in Marblehead. It has been changed in quality from its original type, become larger, probably from cross-fertilization, and lost some if its exquisitely fine grain and flavor, but is still the most popular of any for pies, and is more extensively sold than any other squash. 

The old-fashioned Crookneck is as good as it ever was, but the newer squashes are so much superior in quality that it is far less cultivated, and there is little or no demand for it in the market.

The land best suited to squashes may be described as good corn land, light, warm, and rich from thorough cultivation and manuring. Clean culture is, of course, essential to success, as the crop wants all the help the best of land can give it. The seed may be planted the middle of May. When the crop is harvested, it must be stored in a dry and well-ventilated room, and watched, to prevent the rot from spreading.

A Turban Squash

Yellow Crookneck Squash

I did not know, until I read this excerpt, that Hubbard squash should not be eaten until December. In the New England states it would have been harvested in September, before frost.

My family grew big Blue Hubbards when I was a kid and I'll never forget my mother cooking one that was almost a year old. It was still perfectly good. We kept the squash in an unheated upstairs room of our drafty old farmhouse.

I am partial to squash as a storage food because absolutely nothing is required to "put it up." Just take the very best specimens, clean them off, and put them in a dry place. I'm sure this feature appealed to the old-timers who, of course, had no electricity (and therefore no freezers). 

I'm sure that winter squashes of various kinds will once again be an important winter food staple in the post-industrial,  agrarian era that we are now moving into.


Marrow squash is something of a mystery to me. It might be Zucchini. Does anyone else have any insights into what Marrow squash is?


I highlighted the phrase "clean culture" above. It is used often in the old agricultural writings. I believe that clean culture means the crop does not do well with weed competition. Vigilance with the hoe is required.


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odiie said...

We also grow an abundance of squash and pumpkins. They store well and I still have two turbin and a spaghetti sqaush in my basement from last fall. They are still good. The spaghetti squash seems to keep the best. I don't grow hubbards as I can never get them to ripen enough before we get some hard frosts.
Sqaush and pumpkins are also excellent fodder for goats and cattles.

Lloyd said...

Marrow squash is definitely zucchini or similar green squash.

HalFiore said...

"Clean culture" might also refer to removing and disposing of residue from last year's crop. Good practice for keeping squash bugs at bay. I've been trying to grow various squash in heavy mulch here in MS, and have about given up on it. Competing goals, of course. The mulch helps with a lot of problems, but I don't know if it is worth the downside.

W said...

The Marrow Squash is an old variety.
Commonly referred to as "Boston Marrow".

The link to the information can be found at:

Deborah said...

I am going to have to give another vote for the "boston marrow" I like the looks of it. I found a recipe for it too.


Don/milestrumpets.com said...

I think the crookneck the writer is speaking of may be the winter crookneck because he is writing about winter squash and how well they keep. The winter crookneck is what the butternut was developed from. The winter crookneck looks like a two foot long butternut shaped like the letter U. The Pennsylvania Dutch crookneck or neck pumpkin is similar but much larger.

I agree the marrow squash is the Boston Marrow.