There is considerable uncertainty as to the origin of the squash. Cucurbita Pepo and C. maxima are believed to be natives of tropical America, although they are not known in a wild state. East Asia is probably the home of C. moschata.
Fig. 99. Boston Marrow Squash.
Although the squash is a fairly important vegetable, it is not fully appreciated by American consumers. It is widely cultivated by home and commercial producers, but large areas are not as general as they should be.
Early White Bush, Mammoth White Bush and Jersey White Bush (Cucurbita Pepo) are the leading varieties of the summer squashes of the "patty pan" type. Yellow Bush and Golden Custard Bush are similar in growth and fruit to the first varieties named, except that the skin is deep orange in color instead of white. Summer Crookneck, and Giant Crookneck, belong to the same species as the White Bush class, but their yellow skins and crooknecks make them distinct. The plants are highly productive and the quality of the fruit is superior to that of the patty pan class. They are grown to a considerable extent for the city markets.
The varieties of this class (Cucurbita maxima) are extremely variable in shape, color and size.
Hubbard, extensively grown, is a large, fine-grained, dry variety of excellent quality. It is a good keeper.
Warted Hubbard resembles the Hubbard, but is more heavily warted.
Golden Hubbard is a favorite with some growers. The skin is salmon red when ripe.
Boston Marrow, popular in some sections, is grown extensively for storage.
Delicata, Mammoth Whale, Golden Bronze and Essex Hybrid are well-known varieties.
Cucurbita moschata is a third class represented by the Winter Crookneck, Dunkard and a few other varieties.
The requirements of the squash are not radically different from other cucurbits. The plants, which are not nearly so tender as the melons, will stand more cold than cucumbers. Nevertheless, they are easily injured by frost, so that planting should not occur until the ground is thoroughly warm. A rich, warm, well-drained but moist soil is essential to quick maturity and high yields. The plants are often started under glass like cucumbers and muskmelons. The increased earliness, due to planting under glass, is probably more marked than with any other cucurbit. The plan is popular for the summer crookneck type.
When planted in the open it is customary to sow 10 to 12 seeds in each hill, enriched with two or three forkfuls of rotten manure, and then to thin to two or three plants. Squashes are also planted in drills and thinned as may be desired. The bush types of patty pan and crookneck are generally planted 4 × 4 or 4 × 5 feet apart. The winter or running varieties need as much space as pumpkins and watermelons. Distances vary from 8×8 to 10 × 12 feet, depending upon the fertility of the soil and the vigor of the varieties. Figure 99 shows a field of Boston Marrow in Massachusetts with 12 feet between rows.
For local markets, summer squashes should be harvested before the rinds harden to any considerable extent. When to be shipped long distances, they must be fairly ripe in order to stand transportation. The barrel is the standard package for handling this vegetable.
Successful storage depends largely upon proper methods of harvesting. The fruits should be removed with short stems before hard frosts arrive. They must be handled with the greatest care and placed promptly in heated buildings, which are often built for the purpose. It is customary to store squashes in bins or on racks, where, with the temperature above 50, they may be kept until May or June. Sweet potatoes and squashes are sometimes stored in the same house.
The common squash bug (Anasa tris-tis), which is so well known, is one of the worst insect enemies. The pests are unusually resistant to insecticides. Anything which is strong enough to kill the insects will also injure or destroy the vines. Hand picking of the insects and the eggs is effective but tedious.
The bugs may also be trapped under pieces of boards placed near the plants. Covering the young plants with mosquito netting is in many instances the most satisfactory method.
The Squash Vine Borer (Melittia satyriniformis) is often a destructive enemy. Early squashes are sometimes planted as traps. The vines, after the crop has been harvested, are pulled and burned. Thus, larvae and eggs are destroyed and the seriousness of the attack upon the later plantings is reduced. Various cultural methods are employed in this connection.
This vegetable of American origin, developed from common field corn or maize, is of great commercial importance. It is very generally grown throughout the country and our markets are well supplied from July until cold weather. It is also grown extensively for canning, immense areas being planted annually in some sections for this purpose. With the improvement of varieties consumption is increasing.
There is a long list of early varieties regarded as desirable by vegetable growers.
Adams Early is not a true sweet corn, but its quality is much superior to that of field corn. It is valued because of its hardiness and earliness. It may be planted at least 10 days earlier than the true sweet corn.
White Cob Cory is very prolific. It is a favorite with many growers.
Fordhook is very early and is planted extensively.
Golden Bantam is generally recognized as the most superior variety in cultivation in regard to quality. It is not quite as early as the better-known early varieties, but may be had throughout the season by planting in succession. It is especially desirable for the home garden, and is rapidly gaining popularity for commercial purposes. There is usually some objection to the color, which is creamy yellow when the ears are ready for market, but the consumer seldom objects to the color after the corn has once been sampled. Other popular early varieties are Stabler, Crosby, Sheffield, Red Cob Cory and Minnesota.