Monday, May 23, 2011

Rage Against the Butternut

One of our goals for living in the country is to eventually grow all of our food, with occasional dispensations for exotic foods. I also have the goal of buying local, which is somewhat incompatible given the fact that if one grows all one's own food, one by definition does not buy it. I'm sure that in the years to come we will find a balance between growing as much as we can and buying the items which are just too much trouble to grow ourselves. In the meantime, we're setting the goal of growing *all* and hoping for the result that we will therefore grow *more* than if we only set the goal of growing *some.*

Not to change the subject too quickly, but two years ago I bought some pie pumpkins with the laudable intention of turning them into a pie. They sat on the refrigerator for six months, at the end of which we found them while packing up the house to move. Ryan took one look and said, "Throw those away, they're all rotten."

Well, they weren't. One was a little soft at one spot, and in the middle of that soft spot was a tiny bit of mold. That one got thrown out. But the other was perfectly sound and edible.

The same thing happened the next winter, though the period of time was three months instead of six.

And thus I became a believer in the preservative power of pumpkins. Ryan expanded this into a belief in the preservative power of the entire squash genus. And because we want to eat food that we grew ourselves, last week he bought five varieties of squash seeds.

So we tilled up the garden, inventoried our seeds, measured the garden square footage, paced out the spacing between plants, and began planting seeds. Corn, carrots, turnips, cucumbers, watermelons and cantelopes joined the flourishing berry patch. Squash was the last thing to plant.

When we began planting our hills of squash, I noticed quite a few rocks in the soil and voiced a concern that the squash would have a hard time taking root. Ryan said, "With my luck, I could plant squash in a pit of rock and cover it up with eight inches of soil, pack the soil down and pour Roundup on it, and the squash would STILL come up."

"Aren't you being a little bit arrogant about your gardening skill?"

"No. I hate squash."

"So why did you buy five varieties of it???"

"Because it keeps well."


"The Rage Against the Butternut" was the running joke for the rest of the evening. Ryan made various aggressive man-noises as he hoed up hills for the squash, and punched the soil on top of the seeds with his fist. I came behind with my little handfuls of compost and told the seeds not to take it personally. On the last hill, he emptied the remaining contents of his seed packet all into one hole and said, "With my luck, those fifteen seeds will all sprout and won't even choke each other out."

I hope so. I hope to see shelves full of squash this fall, and if Ryan complains this winter that he's become bored with squash, I will gently remind him that he was the one who bought all those seeds. Ok, maybe I'll rub it in his face. It's no burden to me; I like squash just fine.

Amazon wishlist link (full disclosure: if you click through on this link and decide to buy the book, I get money and you get the satisfaction of helping to support our self-sustaining adventure):

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