At first I thought it was cute. Then, I started to get a bit scared. Finally, as I watched some of my hopes and dreams burn I only sighed. I am the owner of a vamperic acorn squash.
My love affair with squash started two years ago. I discovered butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and acorn squash. I’d always disliked pumpkin and I assumed I’d dislike the other winter squashes. It turns out, I very much enjoy them. I had butternut ravioli at Bonefish and I was enthralled with it. It was very similar to sweet potato but not quite the same. It was enough that I decided to try more.
Squash have been a big goal for me this year. Year two and I’m trying to grow my must have vegetables. Imagine my joy when my first acorn squash started to form. They are beautiful little squash shapes topped by the massive orange squash flower. Just lovely.
Having had some success measuring things I decided that I would document the growth of the Acorn Squash. I read a lot of conflicting information or vague information about harvesting them and how long it takes them to grow and ripen. A lot of that information comes from the seed centers and you can taste how generic the advice is.
How long does it need to be on the vine? I’ve learned that number does vary by the fruit and individual plant. The more fruit the plant has the slower everything grows.
The first step is after pollination. The problem is that I did not have a male acorn squash flower. I did some reading and saw that I could cross pollinate with my yellow squash and zucchini. I’d not be able to use the seeds to grow anything but I was okay with that.
Pollination, once the pollen hits the female ovary, is fast. The flower collapses and the fruit’s stem collapses as well and starts to lay down.
And then it starts to grow.
Doubling in size overnight.
And it grows overnight at rates that made me gasp.
In a week, it was this large. In the upper right corner you can see another butternut squash bud that is being aborted by the plant. This one grew so large and so fast that the plant started to cut off and kill all the other buds. My other plants each have two squash growing or maybe even three at a much slower rate. This one, my first one, is the only one its plant is currently supporting.
Once it hit seven inches it started to slow down. It was getting wider and starting to darken. I figured that it had to be nearly full grown and now I’d wait.
Phew. Now at about seven and a half inches long and just as wide, it had stopped growing larger. Over on my other plants I had multiple fruit. Some were aborted. Some were growing.
And now, two weeks later…
I thought it will be ready in another few days. The skin has gotten hard on the bottom and up towards the top. What I’ve read says that it can hang around on the vine getting ripe but it will also continue to ripen off the vine. I may pull it so that the plant can recover and hopefully give me some new fruit. I do love acorn and butternut squash and am hoping for large harvests from each.
I purchased an acorn squash from the store to do a comparison. Mine is a third as large again. I plucked another one that was ripe and it was smaller. Still, I’m pleased. My total harvest right now should be five or six of them. The plants are making flowers and aborting fruit left and right while growing others. I’m just trying to feed and maintain them all.