Garden: September – Holy Frankensquash


A harvest in September

A few years ago, I started saving seeds from our garden to save money. When I planted them, I got a surprise. My saved squash seeds produced something completely unrecognizable. I never took squash sex ed, but quickly learned that squash of a same species can cross pollinate to create a new cultivar.ย Each plant has male and female flowers that are pollinated in our garden by bees. I don’t control the bees, and they are promiscuous with all the plants in the garden. The fruit from the cross pollinated plant won’t have any change in the first year. However, seeds from that fruit will produce an entirely new type of squash.

Since I don’t control the pollination, I no longer save my own squash seeds. But each year some rogue plant will come up that I don’t have the heart to snuff out. I let the little bastard grow up to see what sort of creation they might become. This year, there were a couple of squash plants that escaped my hoe. They must have taken on some hulk genes, because they went ape shit. Over the two weeks we were in Nova Scotia, they inundated half of the garden. The good news is these Frankensquash have been good producers.

In my case, the interbreeding was within the species Cucurbita pepo which includes spaghetti, crookneck, scallop, and zucchini squash, as well as certain pumpkins. From what I can tell, one Frankensquash is a cross between a scallop and a spaghetti squash, and the other is a cross between a yellow crookneck and a spaghetti squash. Early on, they had traits of summer squash, but the plants later vined out and the fruits started getting harder like winter squash. Because of how much they produced, we should be eating squash well into the winter. Aside from the squash, we also pulled several purple cabbages, corn, tomatoes, and potatoes from the garden.


A young Frankensquash

The days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping, and once again it feels good to be in the sun. The season has changed and so has our daily routine.

In the summertime, we made a lot of salads and grilled outside to keep the house cool. Now, it’s nice to get back inside where the stove and oven cook our food as well as warm our home. Since we pulled several heads of cabbage, we’ve been cooking up some Eastern European classics. One of my favorites is stuffed cabbage or golabki. With these dishes, it’s not just the heat but also the aroma that warms the house.


Golabki – Stuffed Cabbage

We also make lots of soups this time of year. All of our soups are done from scratch. No soup stock from a can or carton – just scrap meats, vegetables, herbs, salt, and pepper. It’s cheap, easy, and delicious. Instead of buying soup stock, just throw some scrap meat in water and boil – that’s it. When we get our whole chickens, we keep the backbone and the guts to make chicken soup. For beef soups, we get cheap neck bones from our farmers’ market. Another Eastern European classic, borscht, is an excellent soup to make with beef neck bones, cabbage and other fall crops.


Borscht, enjoyed with some head cheese on fresh baguette

I usually prefer the warmer weather, but like a couple of hobbits, we have our supplies in order. Our fridge is full of kale and cabbages, and our garage is packed full of firewood, squash, potatoes and garlic. Hundreds of pounds of food and tons of fuel that did not have to get shipped or trucked across the globe after being processed in factories.ย It’s even more satisfying knowing that all of these are simply products of my sweat and determination, and not just cash.

I had the entire summer to enjoy working outside in the garden, but now I’m ready to switch gears with the weather. A couple of weeks ago, I brewed my first IPA of the season, and recently kegged and carbonated it. Last night, it was cold enough to fire up the wood stove for the first time. It was a great start to the season – enjoying a fresh IPA while playing pyro and staying toasty warm.

17 thoughts on “Garden: September – Holy Frankensquash

    • It’s nice having the seasons to keep things exciting. I will see if Mrs CK is willing to do a write-up. I only harvested the cabbages and ate the Golabki ๐Ÿ™‚

  1. I am always SO excited when gardening season starts and a little relieved when it’s over. I have had plants cross pollinate the first year and get some weird stuff. I had what should have been a large orange pumpkin cross with my green zucchini. So it was a perfect pumpkin shape but totally green with stripes. This year I planted 4 types of tomatoes very close together and ended up with weird crosses of each of them. All still very tasty. But it was odd. My roma’s turned orange. My cherry’s ended up long and skinny like a half roma. Now it’s snowing, so looks like I need to close up shop for the year.

    • Cool! If I had more time, it would be interesting to get into breeding new plants. It’s amazing how much they can change over one generation.
      That’s crazy you have snow already, we still have a good bit of the fall season ahead of us here ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. That’s awesome, Mr. CK!

    Y’all make some great-looking stuff…I’m still thinking about that cool shot of the homemade IPA you shared on Twitter! It’s impressive you’ve figured out all the self-sufficiency “tricks” that often seem lost to our society these days. (If I were forced to grow my own food and heat the house with something other than cash-bought heat, it’d be a race to see whether frostbite or starvation got us first.)

    Thanks for sharing this stuff – very inspiring… Cheers!

    • Thanks, FL! Gardening and brewing are fun hobbies, and it’s neat to learn how people used to do these things. But the best part is enjoying all the good food and beer. Cheers ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Dude, your garden sounds amazing and I can’t believe you make your own IPA! I think you and Mr. Picky Pincher would get along swimmingly. ๐Ÿ™‚

    How do those Frankensquash taste? I’ve heard similar issues arise with melons–in fact, professional watermelon farms have to carefully plan their location to be far away from any other breeds of melon to avoid cross-breeding! Who knew?

    • Thanks! Anyone who appreciates a good IPA is a friend of mine ๐Ÿ™‚

      The squash developed a pretty good flavor as they aged. Probably closest to spaghetti squash in taste.

  4. Wow! Your squash harvest is amazing, Mr. CK! Your stuffed cabbage looks amazing! I wish my kids would eat it…

    We had so many squash bugs this year, I couldn’t pick them all off. I don’t like to spray, so it was a loss. I don’t know what to do with those damn things – every year they are such a pain.

    I just pulled all the plants in the garden this past weekend, as we had a hard frost last week. It’s a relief to have the season done, but I’ll start to miss it in a couple of months. But, then, I start seedlings in February, so only a few months to go before starting over!

    • That sucks about the squash bugs. Most of my issues are with aphids, and a pesky groundhog who needs sorting. I have been giving the plants more space, and separating similar plants (ie not planting all the kale in the same row), and it seems to help with the bugs.

      We still have some carrots, cherry tomatoes, kale, and chives going. Usually last harvest for us is in November.

      That’s awesome you start up in February. I might have to do a cold frame and start some early seedlings next year as well…

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