Rooting around in my green grocer’s winter squash bins, I was impressed by some of the monolithic Hubbard squash, looking more like granite boulders than vegetables. Surely these blue-grey monsters would be more appropriate for a Neanderthal-era pantry! My kitchen knives are adequate for onions, but I’m not sure they could measure up to a full-size Hubbard that could feed a city soup kitchen. I settled on a comparatively modest butternut squash (weighing in at four pounds/2 kg), but still, those giant Hubbards were impressive.
The comparison of squash sizes prompted an idea for this summer’s garden. Last year I grew some pumpkin vines, resulting in a few nice orange globes for the raccoons to make merry with. It was fun to see what the vines produced, but I don’t really have a use for pumpkins. But squash is always welcome in winter for baking and soup, and I think that will be my big production plant this year.
The vines producing the largest Hubbard fruits, in the range of 20 to 40 pounds (9 to 18 kg), are from open-pollinated heritage varieties introduced about 1910. Each heritage vine usually produces just one or two enormous fruits. If you grow them, be prepared to move, roll or drag them from the garden to the kitchen.
Catalogue research (stokeseeds.com) uncovered several dwarf and medium-size hybrids (some in brilliant colours) that are 21st-century family size. ‘Mini Orange’ and ‘Mini Green’ Hubbard squash produce attractive, brightly coloured gourds weighing just 2.5 pounds (1 kg), about right for dinner for two. For a larger family, ‘Red October’ produces 6.5-pound (3-kg) fruits with vibrant orange outer shells. ‘Golden Hubbard’ is moderately warted (beginning to look more like the Neanderthal version), and weighs 10 to 12 pounds (4.5 to 5.5 kg). And ‘Heavenly Hubbard’ is the typical blue-grey squash, scaled down to weigh 26 pounds (12 kg).
I’ve decided to grow ‘Mini Orange’ Hubbard in a large container on the deck (a raccoon-free zone). I’ll trellis it along the deck railing and make a living fence for the summer. Care to guess how many squash I’ll get?