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Winter squash

For some reason, I have long underrated winter squash. I rarely bought them, and I never grew them. I suppose my thinking was that anything so hard and heavy must be as hard to cook as a rock and similarly tasteless. I was wrong, as was amply proven by a winter squash that I roasted on the grill a few days ago.

This little beauty is a Long Island cheese squash that a friend grew and sent to the abbey kitchen. It has all the charm of a magical little pumpkin, but it’s harder and heavier. It’s an heirloom squash, and I’ll save its seed for the spring. My understanding from the friend who grew it is that it wants to be planted in compost as soon as the last frost is over. Then, he says, it will keep growing and keep producing until the frost kills it the following fall. One plant, he said, yielded about 80 little pumpkinettes, and his root cellar is crowded with them. Anything that wants to grow and climb all season, and that risks getting pollinated from motley other squashes, would be a poor fit in the larger vegetable garden. But my gardener friend also says that these squash would happily cohabit with the asparagus. The asparagus patch is on the other side of the orchard, with its own fencing, on which the vine could climb.

The abbey is fortunate not only that Ken is a superb gardener, but also that we’re plugged into a network of other superb gardeners. It is time to start thinking about next year’s garden, you know. The seed catalogs will arrive very soon.

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