Heirloom Organic Delicata Winter Squash Seeds (10)
105 days. The old folks call it Sweet Potato Squash for its rich, sugary, tender flavor, and you will see what they mean with the vey first bite! Delicata is the absolute best winter squash for long-term storage, but even if it weren't, this yummy vegetable should be at the top of your list for the garden. It's easy to grow, nutritious, and a terrific value!
Delicata squash is a variety of winter squash with cream-coloured cylindrical fruits striped in green or orange that are cooked. As its name suggests, it has characteristically a delicate rind (or skin). It is also known as peanut squash, Bohemian squash, or sweet potato squash. It is a cultivar of the species Cucurbita pepo, which also includes the summer squash varieties pattypan squash, zucchini, and yellow crookneck squash, as well as winter squash varieties including acorn squash, spaghetti squash, and most pumpkins used as Jack-o-lanterns.
Weighing in at 1 to 1½ pounds each, these lozenge-shaped loaves are white to cream, with grooves and dark green stripes and flecks. Inside, the flesh is golden-orange, with a central seed cavity. To cook delicata, simply slice the fruit lengthwise and steam or bake it right in its "shell"; it also works well on the grill, because the rind is tough enough to hold together and impart a smoky flavor. The flesh can also be scooped out and pureed or chopped before cooking, of course. It has a nutty, sweet flavor. And you can even roast the seeds like pumpkin seeds!
These delicata squash reach about 7 to 9 inches long and up to 4 inches in diameter, and they arise quite freely on vigorous vines. Delicata has a fabulous storage ability, bringing you great eating all winter!
Grow delicata like summer squash (sow the seeds 1 inch deep after all danger of frost), but the plants should be spaced 4 to 6 feet apart. Harvest it when the plants die back or just before frost. Cut and cure the fruit in a well-ventilated area, then store at 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
The ancient Native American technique of growing Corn, Beans, and Squash together in an arrangement called the Three Sisters is the ultimate in companion planting and helps increase harvests, naturally!
Corn acts as a support for climbing bean vines, the beans fix nitrogen in the soil for the high feeding requirements of corn and squash, and the squash provides mulch and root protection for the corn and beans! After cooperating beautifully in the garden, corn and beans form a complete protein when eaten together! How's that for a mutually beneficial relationship?
The Three Sisters are all easy to direct sow in the garden and are a great project for children, teaching them about the beauty of natural harmony while providing a fast-growing reward for their efforts.
Make the best possible use of your garden space this season, and try growing the Three Sisters! Just follow the easy steps listed below, fertilize well, plant other companions like herbs to assist with pest control, and you'll be harvesting your best crop in no time!
In May or June when soil has warmed:
CornseedShape a flat-topped circular mound of soil about a foot high and 2 feet across at the top, sloping outward toward the base. Plant a circle of corn seeds on top, about 5 or 6, and water them in well, tamping down your soil mound firmly so it doesn't wash away in the first rain. Space the mounds 3 or 4 feet apart in the garden.
Since all corn grows on sturdy, dependable stalks, the variety you choose depends on the flavor, disease resistance, and holding ability you want. Sugar Buns is a Sugar Enhanced (SE) yellow hybrid with absolutely scrumptious golden kernels and is positively scrumptious. For SE whites, you can't beat Silver Princess, with extra-long ears bursting with flavor. And for the sweetest ears yet, you absolutely must try Corn Mirai, available in Yellow, White, Bicolor, and even a Mini!
About two weeks later:
Bean SeedWhen your corn reaches about 5 or 6 inches high, plant Bean seeds (6 to 8 of them) around the edges of the flat top or about halfway down the sloping sides of the circular mound. Push the seeds down deep into the soil and, if you're planting on the slope, make sure the soil is nice and firm. Add a bit of Nature's Aid at planting time to help the Beans fix nitrogen.
To get your Beans to climb up the cornstalks, choose Pole rather than Bush varieties. Smeraldo is far and away the best-tasting Pole Bean, with flat pods up to 10 inches long on vigorous 4- to 6-foot vines. Park gardeners rave about Kwintus, a super-early performer with succulent pods on stringless 8- to 10-inch pods. And is the classic name in Beans, with top-quality dark green pods that are both stringless and fiberless, even if you pick them a bit late. We even have Blue Lake available in organic seed!
One week or so after that:
Squash SeedPlant Squash seeds around the base of the mound, on flat ground. You can make them radiate around the mound, or just go in the direction you have available space! 6 to 8 seeds in a ring around the base of the mound is usually plenty.
The traditional Squash family member for this Sister is Pumpkin, with its all-American flavor and long growing season. For a quicker harvest, grow Summer Squash varieties such as organic Early Summer Crookneck or Zucchini such as space-saving Eight Ball Hybrid.
When everything begins growing...
Thin the plantings to 2 or 3 Corn stalks, each with no more than 2 Bean plants winding around it. (You'll need to help the Beans get started growing up the stalks). The Squash is going to vine along the ground, so the number of plants you need depends on how far apart your mounds of corn and beans are, how long the vines get, and how much walking space you need in the garden.
Add a FOURTH sister: Sunflowers!
Sunflowers attract birds, thus tempting them away from your corn plants. They shade the vining bean plants while also adding support. Plus, they're beautiful! It's a win-win situation!