The origin of the word squash comes from a First Nation word of the Narragansett tribe ‘askutasquash’, meaning ‘raw or uncooked’. Squash is the earliest domesticated plant and is native to central and North America, seeds dating 10,000 years ago have been found in Oaxaca, Mexico. Squash is remarkably nutritious, very high in vitamin A and other carotenoids, vitamin B and C; squash is a good source of minerals like calcium and magnesium, it’s also high in dietary fiber and low in fat. Good reasons why people having been eating squash for thousands of years, plus it’s delicious!
Squash was one of the ‘Three Sisters’ to the Indigenous peoples of eastern North America, along with corn and beans. These vegetables were planted together as they grew symbiotically, with all benefiting from the others. The corn acts as a growing structure for the beans, the climbing beans help stabilize the corn and the beans fix nitrogen in the soil. The squash leaves act as a mulch to help reduce weeds and retain soil moisture. The Three Sisters also provide people balanced nutrition with protein, carbohydrate and healthy fats. Recent studies show that growing squash, corn and bean together allow the plants to access more nutrients and produce more biomass especially in low fertility soils. Plus, the way the different root systems interact mean the plants don’t compete for nutrients.
We grow squash using our black geo-fabric to cover the ground and reduce weeds, this makes them less labour intensive than carrots, which is important. The varieties we grow each year depend on a few things, such as what germinates, but also productivity and storage length. This year we grew a number of new varieties and some didn’t produce very well, we may not grow them again. The Delicata produced this year, and we’re very happy about that. We’re really impressed with the taste and texture of the Hubbard squash and the Candy Roaster. The Candy Roaster was a squash favoured by the eastern Cherokee and we can see why, it’s really delicious and it stores for a long time.
Winter squash is quite a dense vegetable and most recipes start with roasting or otherwise cooking the squash before adding other ingredients. We’re going to feature some recipes this month that are a bit different. We hope you’ll try them and let us know how you like them.