Among the”three sisters”, squash is an American first, having sustained native inhabitants for thousands of years before its adoption as a significant food source across the world. Of the many species from the genus Cucurbita, the mixta species — primarily the cushaw squashes — contain a number of the largest varieties. These are normally lumped with winter squashes however they are good fresh and cooked as summer squash when little. Regardless of variety, the cushaws are almost all uniformly sweet, long-keepers which produce excellent pies in addition to soups and hearty main dishes.
Climate and Soil
Squashes enjoy warm weather and a lot of sunshine to grow and thrive. Many cushaw varieties do well anywhere with warm soil and also a frost-free period of between 90 and 120 days. They favor a medium fertile, well-drained and equally moist clay or sandy-loam soil with a slightly acidic pH of 5.5 to 6.8.
Planting, Harvesting and Storing
Plant squash seeds directly in the garden when the soil temperature reaches approximately 55 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit. You don’t actually require a thermometer — in general, if it feels consistently warm for a week or two and the final frost date for your area is well-past, it is usually fine to go ahead and plant. Harvest baby squashes for immediate use in summer or mature fruits once the skin is too hard to permeate with a fingernail. Leave the mature fruits in the garden to cure for a few days following the vines wilt and turn brown before cutting the stems at least two inches and storing in a cool, dark place.
This comparatively rare green and white squash of the South can also be known as the Tennessee sweet potato squash, and is valued in hotter areas as an all-around squash for desserts or vegetable dishes. Native Americans — both south and north of the border — have grown this large, squash-bug and vine-borer-resistant variety since prehistoric times — possibly as far back as 7000 BC. Some explain it as having a slightly sweet, gentle smoky taste that is often preferred as a substitute for pumpkin in pumpkin pies. This extremely long-keeping squash also makes an excellent livestock feed as it includes many essential nutrients like Vitamin C.
The white cushaw is another of the rarer forms of cushaw squash. This plant produces huge, mildly sweet and salty fruits with orange flesh that is good raw or cooked. It also produces mounds of seeds which produce fantastic, healthful snacks when roasted. Like most cushaws, this variety is pest-resistant and keeps very well. It is easy to develop, holds up well in heat and produces prolifically. It is sometimes called the”Jonathan Pumpkin.”
“Seminole Pumpkin” is actually another cushaw squash — despite the title. The Seminole tribe, of what is now Florida, grew this smaller-sized squash as a staple part of the diet. It grows well in moist, humid environments where other squashes do not fare so well. This firm-fleshed, sweet variety can also be resistant to powdery mildew which is a major problem for many squashes.
Even though it is a cushaw type, the golden cushaw is actually Curbita moschata instead of C. mixta as the others are. This is a beautiful golden-orange colored skillet with deep orange flesh. Do not confuse it with all the C. mixta variety called gold-striped cushaw, a variety visually equal to the green-striped cushaw but for the beautiful golden stripes. The golden cushaw has sweet flesh reminiscent of sweet potatoes and is very high in many nutrients, making it the maximum edibility score from the group Plants for a Future.