Single Packet of 200 Seeds
Thought to be one of the oldest summer squash varieties, crookneck squash (Cucurbita pepo) may even predate Columbus in North America. Journals show that Thomas Jefferson got what historians believe were crookneck seeds from Timothy Matlock in 1807. These plants add color and flavor to your summer garden.
This fast-growing and prolific squash grows to about 2 feet tall and 3 feet wide, and produces lemon-yellow fruit with a slight bend in the neck in about 53 days. The squash has edible skin and seeds, with a mild buttery and nutty flavor.
Crookneck squash, like its squash family members, deliver a nutritional punch for only 36 calories per cup of cooked squash. They provide Vitamins C, K, and B6, along with potassium and manganese. Rich in carotenoids, they also bring lutein to the party, which promotes healthy eyes and helps prevent plaque build-up in the arteries.
Crookneck Growing Care
Harvest your crookneck squash when they reach 5 to 6 inches in length, or leave them to dry on the vine to a warty, orange gourd-like product that looks great in decorating. For optimal storage after harvest, leave about 1/2 to 1 inch of the stem on the fruit, then store them in a loose plastic bag in the refrigerator's crisper drawer.
Because the plants may be vulnerable to squash bugs, squash vine borers, and cucumber beetles, you may want to grow them under floating row covers. Watch for blossom end rot and powdery mildew, as well.
Go simple and steam your crooknecks with a little nutmeg, or grate them into fritters, salads, pancakes, or quick breads. Cut them into thin strips and replace the carb-heavy noodles in your favorite lasagna or other pasta dishes or add them to ratatouille. You can also stuff them with grains, meats, or cheeses, or you can try these recipes.
Summer Squash Casserole
Slice four crookneck squashes into 1/2-inch slices and saute them in butter with a thinly sliced onion. While the squash and onion gets to the fork-tender stage, mix 1 cup mayonnaise, two eggs, 1 tablespoon flour, 2 teaspoons sugar and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Add the squash, onion, and 10 ounces grated sharp Cheddar cheese. Bake at 350 degrees until the casserole is set. In a skillet, toast 1/3 cup breadcrumbs in 1 tablespoon butter before sprinkling them on the top of the casserole. Make this dish colorful by mixing crookneck and zucchini squash and adding a bit of grated carrot.
Summer Squash Puffs
Cut four crookneck squashes into chunks and boil them until tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the water and mash the squash before mixing 2 cups squash with a grated onion and two lightly beaten eggs. In a separate bowl, whisk together 2/3 cup flour, 2/3 cup dry corn muffin mix, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry, and then drop the batter by tablespoons into oil heated to 365 degrees, until they are golden brown.
Sowing The Seed
Squash seeds aren't too fond of being transplanted and are best sown directly in the garden, after all danger of frost has passed. Begin by clearing your sowing area of all unwanted plant life and other obnoxious weeds that you find. Sow the seeds at a depth of 1" under topsoil, on hills which are raised 8 inches tall. Check below for additional information on spacing and growth habits.
Squash plants will enjoy the heat of summer and thrive in temperatures that are above 65F. Since Squash is a heavy feeder, the soil should be rich in organic matter, but will also need to be well drained. To improve drainage, it is recommended to add a light compost to any hard, compacted soil in the sowing area. This will prevent the roots from rotting. Water the seeds daily with a mild setting so that they are kept moist until germination occurs. Avoid overwatering.
Germination & Growth
Squash seeds will begin to sprout open in roughly 7 to 14 days after sowing. The plants will grow to a mature height of 1 to 2 feet tall and can take up 2 to 3 feet of garden space. These plants form a bush like growth and can be spaced by hills or mounds of dirt, rather than rows. As explained above mounds should be 18 to 24 inches wide and at least 8 inches tall. Space each mound at least 3 to 4 feet apart from one another. When sprouts become visible, direct the vines outwards towards areas that do not contain other plant life.