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One More Job Off the List

October 10, 2014
Sweet Meat

Sweet Meat

A farmsteader can do no wrong growing winter squash.  It’s hard to believe from a handful of seeds, some good soil prep, a few hours of weeding and a little worrying you can harvest five hundred pounds of food that will keep for a year (at least) without any food preservation work.  Just store and eat.


I’ve been growing this particular winter squash, Sweet Meat for at least 30 years now.  Ugh, that makes me feel old, but we go way back, me and this squash.  I got the seeds from a dear friend at Grange, he lived in town actually and we speculated just how well it would do at my elevation.  It took some doing over the years, but with careful selection I now have a consistent landrace that does well no matter what the summer dishes out.

I pulled forty-five squash off the field yesterday, ranging from ten to fifteen pounds.  Not bad for dryland gardening eh?

For the time being they are curing in the greenhouse along with the dry beans, flint corn, and spaghetti squash.

Next on the list?



Lima beans, finally.  Slow pokes!  I have been waiting for these all summer.  This gives a whole new appreciation for my gardening mentor who would announce that she had seventy pints canned and on the shelf…gah.  I was lucky to get enough shelled for dinner last night.

27 Comments leave one →
  1. Michael permalink
    October 10, 2014 9:58 am

    Could you please expand on how your squash has evolved over the years. How has it changed with your careful selection.


    • October 10, 2014 11:04 am

      Michael, I’ll do a little post about seed saving, I saw some other things in the garden yesterday that I snapped a photo of.

  2. October 10, 2014 10:16 am

    You guys amaze me. The true master gardeners.

  3. October 10, 2014 10:26 am

    I am so grateful for you putting me onto squashes in general, especially sweet meat. They have been a revelation, as it was one thing I had never really grown before. I have eaten pumpkin and it is a take it or leave it type vegetable and I assumed squashes were the same. How wrong I was. The only problem was that I grew sweet meat too close to another squash last year and this year we have an orange skinned squash that looks half way between the two types. Oh well! I guess I will have to get some more seeds. I haven’t got around to testing these new ones to see what they are like, but maybe I have a whole new variety that is very productive when grown on a compost heap – I think it was one plant that produced 20 reasonable sized squashes.

  4. October 10, 2014 10:45 am

    I really enjoy your pictures, they really capture the essence of farming. Thanks for sharing your words and your pictures.

  5. Lisa G. permalink
    October 10, 2014 10:52 am

    I didn’t realize these vegetables had to cure – I haven’t tried growing any yet.

  6. Allisa Imming permalink
    October 10, 2014 10:53 am

    I’m new to gardening and squash. What do you do with all that sweet meat squash? How do you prepare it? Thank you, Lisa

    • October 10, 2014 11:05 am

      Allisa, I use it like pumpkin, I’ll try to do a post on cooking with it.

      • Allisa Imming permalink
        October 10, 2014 11:17 am

        Actually, I just found your squash (cookies) post from 2012 at Simple, Green, Frugal Co-Op. Thanks though! 🙂

  7. trish permalink
    October 10, 2014 11:51 am

    I tried sweet meat this year because I have read your posts on it so often. But it was a flop. We had too cold a summer! And it took up nearly all our dear high tunnel space. I think these Alaska summers might just make me give up on growing squash… although I always say things like this in the fall but come March, I’m raring to try again!

  8. Emily Summer permalink
    October 10, 2014 11:52 am

    My gosh those are beautiful! Our growing season Is too short to grow those. How I envy you.

  9. October 10, 2014 12:27 pm

    Do you think this squash would brow in .Florida? And where could I buy seeds to give them a try? I love reading your posts, I grew up in Ohio and always had big gardens and canned and froze almost everything we ate, along with our own meat, chicken and eggs. It is hard to not be able to have these things now. We do have a garden now, just planting our winter one.

    • October 10, 2014 12:44 pm

      Ellie, I think it’s hard to grow squash in the south because of squash bugs, which aren’t a problem here. I think Fedco on the east coast carries them.

      • October 11, 2014 5:05 pm

        We have tried to grow squash a few times and you are right, they get bugs in the stem and then worms in the fruit. We may get one or two squash from the whole patch. Thanks for the info.

  10. October 10, 2014 12:30 pm

    Limas!! Here??? And here’s me thinking they’re too long a season babies for us. I’d love to know what you grow. It’d put me one step closer to being able to grow one each of all the bean species………………. BTW I have some Rockwell beans you really should try. An Uprising variety from NW WA. Prolific and tasty.

    • October 10, 2014 1:35 pm

      I know, and they grew the pole type too. These are Fordhook 242 bush…I’m hoping to get enough to save some seed, but man are they slow. Henderson’s Bush may be a better choice, or I may just give up and go back to Aztec Half Runners. Not quite the same but pretty tasty and a little earlier.

      Rockwell sounds delicious.

      I know the gab has been about this warm summer, but I know some things here in the garden just didn’t get the memo. Mostly everything was right on the same schedule of ripening as always, and some things later, tomatoes, peppers etc. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised the limas took their sweet time.

  11. October 10, 2014 1:51 pm

    I have a bit of squash envy here. We grew squash very successfully the first year we gardened on our acreage in Nebraska, but ever since then, the squash borer moth–vile beastie–kills my squash plants one by one. Would Sweet Meat (by any chance?) be immune to this awful pest? Advice?

    • October 10, 2014 2:08 pm

      No, it wouldn’t be immune, we’re just lucky here that we don’t have to deal with that beastie.

    • October 10, 2014 7:39 pm

      Amy- try planting it later. Since you’re further south than we are your days may stay longer a little longer. I’ve read where you can miss some bugs by planting stuff a little later- oh wait I remember where I read that: This Organic Life by Joan Gussow.

      • Karen permalink
        October 11, 2014 12:41 pm

        I’ve been told that you should plant as early as possible to beat the bugs to the punch. I struggle with growing zucchini of all things!
        Kinda find it funny that you have lima bean envy, Matron. And that a guru like you has a mentor when you are mentor to so many! Always appreciate the great info.

    • October 12, 2014 11:56 am

      I also have squash envy, because I deal with vine borers,too. I’m a little obsessed with the beauty and utility of winter squash and trying to successfully grow it. I even have a picture of my husband and me standing inside a house made out of all different kinds of squash. Wish I could post it here. I kind of avoided borers this year by planting my summer squash so early that they made fruit before the borers killed them. In Texas, we get borers all summer and well into fall, so I waited over a month before planting my butternuts. I think I may have waited a little too long so I don’t know if the squash will ripen in time, but I haven’t seen a borer yet. I think they moved on. I also dug up and exposed the pupae after the first round, so that may have helped. I always read about moschata squash being resistant to borers but it’s all lies! I wish I could grow maximas. I’ll probably try anyway.

  12. October 10, 2014 2:59 pm

    Thanks for the Delicata info! I’ve never considered it one of the better storage varieties, but I will have to give this strain a try. We are lucky enough to be too cold for squash bugs (the upside of our short season) so rely heavily on squash for an easy, low-water winter food. Also, our ducks love to prune them for us whilst on fertilizer detail 🙂

  13. Janet permalink
    October 11, 2014 8:15 am

    Last year my butternut squash got moldy before I could eat them and had to throw them away. 😦 They were in a cool building, plenty of air around them. Do you have any suggestions as to what would have caused that or how to avoid that this year? Thanks!

  14. Carrie permalink
    October 11, 2014 11:09 am

    I had a disaster with my Sweet Meat this year. Sigh. I planted them where they were partially shaded from mid-afternoon onwards. Although a well manured bed, and then tenderly cared for and fed, there was something about the location they didn’t like… I have a sneaking feeling the plant itself dislikes high humidity? However, if I live to try again, I’ll be using my own ‘saved form last year’ seeds… which, coupled with some form of Plan B (now where did I put that plan?), is sure to bring success. Maybe 🙂

  15. October 12, 2014 1:54 am

    I’m the solo lima lover here.

  16. Bev permalink
    October 12, 2014 4:08 am

    We were introduced to Sweet Meat many years ago, too. The best. Since we moved and our season is so short we can’t grow them. Friends share some with us each year. They taste so good. It is nice that there are no strings inside.. They make the best pumpkin pies.

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