Coffee heat rising

RIP $64 butternut squash

{sigh} The amazing, struggling $64 butternut squash plant finally croaked over.

Yesterday it was looking a little yellow, the season being August. When it’s hotter than a three-dollar cookstove around here (the norm for the low-desert climate from May or June through mid-October), plants living in pots have to be watered every. single. day, no exceptions. And they need to be watered early in the morning, before the sun starts its daily baking process.

But…in August we get some humidity. This means that not all the water evaporates out of some pots, so plants that don’t like wet feet can show symptoms of overwatering. Like, for example, yellowing leaves.

So I decided to hold off watering the squash for a day, though left the shade cloth over it.

This morning—twenty-four hours later—it is stone dead. A stiff squash. A squash that has gone to meet its maker.

A couple of its viney arms were still clinging to life, having rooted in the sandy quarter-minus crushed granite that is my yard’s desert landscaping. Briefly I considered snipping those free from the dead mother plant and just continuing to water them. But really: what for? The original point of this exercise was to see whether seeds from a particularly delicious grocery-store butternut would grow in the back yard.

Welp…now we know the answer to that one!


4 thoughts on “RIP $64 butternut squash”

  1. RIP, squashplant — I was rooting for you. I wonder what the native peoples around there grew or gathered this time of year? I bet…nothing. I bet they migrated somewhere a little cooler, after harvesting prickly pears and peyote buttons. Came back in the winter when things like corn could grow. So, come on up to Vermont and cool off till school starts or better yet, go down to Mexico to San Miguel de Allende where the weather is almost perfect, all the time. Right now, everything should be in bloom. Just a hop, skip and a jump from you. Just a thought.

  2. @ Chance: Hey! Love to come to Vermont!! Still can’t comment on the site but do enjoy reading it…I’ll try to get on from a computer that has IE, next time I’m on the campus.

    Actually, the weather here was a little more temperate before the palefaces showed up. In the low desert, people lived along the riverbeds–in what’s now the Phoenix area, they had an elaborate, sophisticated system of irrigation canals. Mesquite trees formed “bosques” lining the riverbanks–from what I gather, forests where the trees’ canopies joined overhead to form a permanent, natural shelter.

    In addition to corn (which does grow here), they grew a number of squash and other plants adapted to the Sonoran desert…as you can imagine, butternut squash of the sort we find in the grocery store doesn’t fit into that category. And they harvested a lot of things that grow here, from agave roots to saguaro fruits.

    Evidently, too, the humans themselves were adapted to the feast-and-famine cycles of the desert climate…which is said to at least partly explain the astronomical rates of diabetes among Indians, who fare poorly on junk food and sugary drinks. The (oversimplified!) theory goes that people who lived here for thousands of years adapted to stock up calories when times were good and then let them burn off during the lean months. Now that there are no lean months, the body just keeps stocking up calories, much to the person’s detriment. Could be…there has to be some explanation.

    San Miguel…beautiful!

  3. Enjoyed reading about your battles with vegetables! In the future, pick seeds from plants that are adapted to your climate – they will do much better than seeds from mass produced plants grown far away.

    I’ve always been curious about the value of growing your own veggies, which is why I’m keeping careful track this year. I bet we’ll hit that $208 in tomatoes alone (which are insanely expensive) this year, not counting the thousands of dollars worth of my time (calculated based on what I would earn if i were working all those hours). But I find it relaxing and it’s cheaper than therapy and healthier than booze.

    • @ Shannon: I enjoyed finding Boston Food Garden, which is delightful…and am always in awe of people who are smart enough to persuade the earth to put forth wonderful produce. You’re absolutely right about actually (ahem!) buying seeds adapted to Zone 10! I couldn’t resist trying to reproduce some more of the particularly excellent butternut that came from the grocer’s. LOL: $64 dumb tax!

      Seems to me that most of us should regard gardening as a hobby (and therefore an entertainment that we budget funds for) rather than as a substitute for grocery shopping. If you succeed in growing some produce that you ordinarily would buy in the store, more power to you! But really: unless you live on a farm with plenty of room, tools, and expertise to grow crops, it’s a gourmet kinda thing. If you regard the activity as something you do because you enjoy the activity itself, then comparing the cost of backyard goodies with grocery-store veggies is irrelevant.

Comments are closed.