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Vegetables - Squash

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

There are several well-defined groups of squashes. Among the best known are Scallop and Crookneck, which form bushlike plants about 4 or 5 feet across, and the running squashes, which include the late varieties. The bush squashes are early sorts. Squashes are planted in rich soil, the summer varieties about 6 feet apart and the winter sorts 8 or 10 feet. Six or eight seeds should be placed in each hill, and when the plants have grown well, the poorer ones should be thinned out, leaving only two plants to the hill. Early kinds are often started on inverted sods or in berry boxes, cold frames or hotbeds, and then transplanted to the fields.

Summer varieties are not grown for fall use, as they do not keep well, and also because they are not fit to eat after the skin becomes hard. Winter squashes can be used at any time, but are usually allowed to mature. Invariably they should be gathered before frosty weather, as even a slight frost injures their keeping qualities. They are often placed in piles in the field, and covered with the vines at night, until they are thoroughly dry and the skins have become flinty. At least an inch of the stem should be cut with each fruit. This serves as a handle. The fruit should always be handled with the greatest care to prevent even. slight bruises. Among the early varieties are Summer Crookneck, Bush Scallop, and Boston Marrow. The late varieties include Hubbard, Marblehead, Essex Hybrid, Bay State, and Winter Crookneck. This last variety is not of as good flavor as the others. It is about equal to pumpkins.

Squashes expected to keep well must be gathered carefully just before the first frost. Leave the stems on and do not bruise. If frost nips them ever so little, they begin to decay, at first slowly, but soon they will be ruined. After they are gathered it is best to store them in an outbuilding until danger of freezing approaches. They should then be taken to a cool, dry, airy cellar, and placed upon shelves, being careful that they dc) not touch one another. Squashes gathered and taken care of in this way will keep good until nearly spring.

Francis C. Kiner of Illinois writes : " The best luck I ever had storing squashes and pumpkins was in a cellar adjoining a furnace room. It was very dry and the windows were all kept open until there was danger of frost entering the cellar. The squashes were gathered just before frost without bruising, care being taken to leave all the stems on. They were set on shelves about 4 feet up from the cellar floor. The windows were left open for a while every warm day during the winter to air the cellar.

"These squashes kept nicely until January 1. Then some of them began to speck. When I wanted one to use I looked them over and used the ones that were beginning to show signs of not keeping very well. By this method none went to waste. A number of them kept until spring. The squashes were the Hubbard, the Hester, the Mar-low, and sweet pumpkins. There was a fine lot of them, and I do not know that our family ever enjoyed anything better than they did those squashes. The Hester squash, especially, is a fine keeper, and, if cooked right, is equal to sweet potatoes."

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