I like to grow weird things in the garden; purple jalapenos, black tomatoes, white tomatoes. It’s all gardening fun and each new thing is a new adventure.
Last year I had squash planted in a good sized area; two summer squash, a green winter squash and also a Chinese winter squash that I got seeds for in a gardening page trade. It was called Yuxijiangbinggua Winter Squash. The lady I traded with got the seeds from a gardening company that I get seeds from too: https://www.rareseeds.com/
Last year I also had squash bugs, and was out there in the heat every two days looking for the adult bugs and their eggs. The only way to keep them from destroying squash without using chemical poisons, which I don’t do, is to destroy eggs as they are laid so they never get to hatch out.
I also developed powdery mildew after a while, and was treating that with an organic treatment. It was hot, it was a lot to do with other gardening, and the Chinese squash was huge; branches out in 3 directions, 10′ long each, with leaves that are 8-10″ across. It was late July and that big one still hadn’t even bloomed and was still growing, wonderfully. I didn’t want to keep searching for bug eggs on all those leaves, and I pulled it out of the ground.
This year I had heard a good idea about squash bugs and I tried it. They mate around the middle of June. We normally plant things here around the middle of May. I read a recommendation to not plant squash till June 1st, and the plants might not be big enough to be of interest to the bugs when they don’t have many leaves by their mating season. The idea is that the adults will go somewhere else to look for squash plants. So this year, I planted my regular summer squash around June 1st. And just for kicks, planted one seed of the Chinese squash, in an area where I can help to control where all it….wanders off to!
So far, in the middle of July, between killing as many bugs as I could last year and planting late this year, I have no squash bugs. I killed one adult about 2 weeks ago, and check for eggs every couple days, just in case.
And the Chinese squash is doing its thing, and one branch is about 8′ long, and two others almost that long.
I planted it in a dead tree stump with some rich ground put down inside the stump.
This thing is so big: the leaves, the stems, the length of the stems, and the leaves are each on long stems that make them stick up off the ground. (That makes the leaves not touch the ground; avoiding ground crawling bugs that might eat the leaves, and also helps to avoid powdery mildew, which is a fungus in all the ground around us.) It makes squash that are 10-12″ across and can weigh 10-15 lbs. It is an amazing plant. Now I’ve read that it takes 120 days to produce its ripe fruit, and I’m going to give it a chance this year.
It’s so big that it occurred to me that it seems like a living thing; not just a plant, but an entity of it’s own kind, like it should be respected in a different way than other plants because it’s huge and keeps traveling around. Being a daughter of the earth hippie chick organic gardener, I have respect for all the plants, but this thing is different.
So it hit me: it needs to have a name. I’m only a little familiar with a play called Little Shop of Horrors, but I remember a song about the plant in the play singing about wanting to be fed. The plant’s name was Audrey. That Audrey in the play wanted to begin to eat humans. I’ve now named this squash Audrey! I hope this Audrey will grow big and strong and produce some very unusual winter squash, and not develop a taste for humans, cos she’s about to be allowed to take her trip across my back yard.
She is growing between my compost container and some peppers in pots. Then I put up a bamboo pyramid that I used to let beans grow up on, and Audrey can go across the path that goes up thru my yard and climb the pyramid. That should give her enough room to roam, and good sunlight.
Gardening should be fun, and this experimental plant is fun. And now, here is Audrey, and where she’ll be able to travel to. I’ll blog about her and her travels again, if this all goes the way I hope it will. Who knows if we’ll even get any squash, in the end of September or so, or if we’ll like them if we do. But Audrey is a dynamic living thing, who now lives in my back yard.
Happy gardening. Have some fun!