I thought talking about some “different” garden plants might be fun. It’s that time of the year, and considering the way the weather has been, it really isn’t too late to plant many of our usual types of plants. That also goes for plants that behave similarly to those we regularly plant.
Around here, most people plant some kind of squash. Yes, we are likely to have success with squash most years. But what about a squash that most people don’t plant? A few years ago we found one that fits that description wonderfully.
While browsing through a seed catalog, my wife Kathy came across one called Tahitian butternut squash. We’ve always enjoyed butternut squash in general, but this one definitely sounded unusual. Let me share with you what the website “Specialty Produce” says about it: “Tahitian squash is medium to large in size, averaging 8-30 pounds in size, and has the appearance of a large, elongated butternut squash . . .When cooked, Tahitian squash is fragrant, tender, and smooth with a nutty and very sweet flavor.” It had me at “very sweet,” right?
I wondered where the “Tahitian” part of the name came from. Specialty Produce says that although squash in general originated in South and Central America, it seems that some were taken to Tahiti, where the people there developed new varieties, including the Tahitian squash. It was first offered commercially by the Thompson and Morgan Seed Company in 1977, but was grown in California in 1976 by George Patton, who brought seeds back from the island of Bora Bora.
We decided to try it, and everything they said about it is true. Yes, the individual squashes can weigh up to thirty pounds. That’s not a typo. Two years ago, when we had the big, nasty freeze in early November, we had planted Tahitians, and the ones that sprouted really took off. We had vines that were easily 25 feet long! One even climbed over our fence into our neighbors’ yard. I knew there were at least a dozen or so nice squashes, but I was concerned because some weren’t ripe when the freeze hit and absolutely killed the vines. Not to worry.
When we started looking through the wreckage, we found 33 squashes, some ripe, some partially ripe, and some green, all from just three vines. The total weight was just over 400 pounds! The picture illustrates part of our harvest that year. (However, there were four more in our neighbors’ yard, which they too enjoyed.)
We decided to eat the green ones first. Even they were delicious. As we worked through from green to ripe, we found that they were all wonderfully sweet. We also found that we could use them in pies, as well as eating them raw like carrot sticks. Of course, we usually bake them. We gave many away to friends, but they were great eating right into the following April, when we inevitably ran out.
We heartily recommend this squash, assuming you have room to let it run.
The Red Bluff Garden Club is a member of the Cascade District, California Garden Clubs, Inc.; Pacific Region Garden Clubs, Inc.; and National Garden Clubs, Inc. We meet on the last Tuesday of each month except December.