Sweet Meat Squash is an heirloom winter squash from the northwest United States. It grows vigorous vines that spread 6-10 feet in every direction and are 12"-18" tall. It has large, 5-lobed leaves. The leaves and the vines are covered with small hairs called trichomes. The flowers are yellow-orange and trumpet shaped.
The Sweet Meat fruit resembles a sea-green pumpkin, with a greenish gray outer skin and a deep orange flesh. Each individual squash can weigh 10-20 pounds and measure 10 inches or more in diameter. The flesh is dry, fine and stringless, with an incomparable flavor similar to a sweet potato. Once you try it, you may join the many people who call it, "the best winter squash I've ever tasted."
It takes 105-115 days for sweet meat squash to grow from planting to harvest.
Avoid over-watering. Try to keep water on the soil and not on the leaves or stems of the plants, as squash plants can be subject to dry rot and mildew.
Sweet meat squash is vulnerable to cucumber beetles, squash bugs, and squash vine borers. To help prevent pests, you can practice crop rotation, cover plants with fine mesh, and dust plants with diatomaceous earth. Cucumber beetles don't usually cause a lot of damage, but make the plants vulnerable to disease and other pests. Squash bugs inject a poison into the leaves and then suck out the juices; this causes damage and wilt and can kill young plants.
To see if borers are harassing your squash, check at the base of the plant. The borers make small holes; if careful and not too late, you can cut along the grain of the vine and pick out the borers. If you see evidence of borers, such as holes or adults bugs flying around, immediately apply an appropriate insecticide, because they can kill your plants overnight.
Let the fruits fully mature before you pick them. Immature squash will not have as good a flavor and will not store well. They only develop the hard protective skin in the last weeks of growth. If the stems are green they are not ripe yet; once the stems turn brown and woody, you can pick your squash.
To pick sweet meat squash, cut the fruit off the vines, leaving at least a 2" stem on the plant. Without the stem, the fruit will start spoiling around the place where it ought to be. Once picked, let the fruit cure in a warm dry place for 2-4 weeks, then store in a cool, dry place where temperatures are around 50 degrees. Do not wash fruit you intend to store.
Sweet meat squash is the best squash to store for fresh food all winter long. In a cool pantry, it can be kept in good condition for over six months. It not only keeps its flavor while stored, after a month of storage the flavor sweetens and deepens.
Sweet meat squash is a low-calorie, high nutrition food. It is an excellent source of vitamins A, B6 and C, beta-carotene, fiber, thiamine, potassium, magnesium and manganese.
Sweet meat squash has a rich, buttery, sweet flavor that will make amazing fresh food all winter. To prepare it for use, you will need to cut it open with a saw or use a hammer and knife or chisel. Scoop out the seeds. Place cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 1.5-2 hours. Remove and scoop out the flesh. Discard the skins.
You can eat it as is, freeze it for later use, or use it in hundreds of amazing recipes. It makes creamy soups, fantastic side dishes, and delicious casseroles. It is wonderful in muffins, cakes, and fruit breads. Many people think pies made with sweet meat squash taste even better than those made with pumpkin.
You can put the seeds outside for birds or clean and roast them for a tasty snack.
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 in groups of 3, 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 6 feet of garden space. These plants will need a large area to grow outwards 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 6 feet apart from one another. When sprouts become visible, direct the vines outwards towards areas that do not contain other plant life.