Attack of the Killer Cushaw – A Nearly Forgotten Old Time Food

Sarah at Moonmooring

A couple of weeks ago I took the liberty of placing six seeds of Cushaw squash in a yogurt container with some crappy yard dirt and a little water. A few days later all six of them came up. Every. Single. One. It’s all I can do to thin a little row of carrots much less something as substantial as a Cushaw seedling. Those things have muscles. They are the bullies of the garden. You could feed entire small countries with a mess of Cushaw plants. Do you remember Audrey II? I think Cushaws are related. Today I transplanted those seeds to a spot on the north forty.

In 2012 I was gardening with Marideth Sisco in a brand new garden space we dug out of Ozarks rock and clay and knots of tenacious grasses. There was a strategically placed and obnoxious rotted stump hole and no soil to waste on filling it up so the hole became a dumping ground of sorts. All the bark, twigs, limbs, branches, stones, clumps of grass and garden refuse went into the hole. It was a sight. So Marideth suggested I cover it with cardboard and a layer of dirt in order to make it less unsightly. Both of us being the penny-pinching misers that we are it was impossible to let the open soil just sit there and grow more grass right in the middle of the garden so I planted five (thankfully that is all there were) Cushaw seeds, watered them in (mind you there was only a few inches of dirt and gravelly stone to accept the seeds), mulched the mess with a bit of straw and stood back to watch. Neither one of us had any experience with Cushaw and everything we read online in forums and such was an outright lie about size and expected yield. I have no idea where the seeds came from or how old they were.

Two weeks later this is what was growing. See the photograph below…

Already over a foot tall.

Already over a foot tall. June 6, 2012

Eleven days later this is what the hill of Cushaw looked like. Please see the photo below…

Eleven days after the previous photo. June 27, 2012

Eleven days after the previous photo. June 27, 2012

On August 29 of the same year we took a machete and a chain saw to the Cushaw patch with the intention of harvesting. The plants were hip-high on Marideth. Marideth is not a statuesque woman. Nonetheless hip-high is hip-high.

This hill of Cucurbita owned the garden. Vines of it had grown over and under a fenceline and up a pine tree. I had a spaghetti squash do that once so hmm...

This hill of cucurbita owned the garden. Vines of it had grown over and under a fenceline and up a pine tree. I had a spaghetti squash do that once so hmm…

That same day and with much ado twelve Cushaw squash were harvested weighing in at a total of 350 pounds. The largest Zenobia, the grande Dame of Coot’s Edge, weighed in at  50 pounds. We named them all  and started looking for homes to adopt them out to.

Unbeknownst to me at the time I had inadvertently built a Hugelkultur whereupon I planted the 5 golden seeds of Cushaw. And they grew to a mighty bounty of succulent squashness I had never seen the likes of. If you will kindly view the photograph below…

Seems to be a watermelon keeping them company.

Seems to be a watermelon keeping them company.

So you see what I am about to get myself into this gardening season.
Six Cushaw seeds all in a row.

There will be more Cushaw discussion as we plow through this summer’s gardening season. Have you grown or eaten Cushaw? Do you have a favorite recipe? And how does your garden grow this May?

As an aside: This from Friends Drift Inn; “Cushaws are becoming scarce because we have forgotten a staple of our Appalachian Foodways. It means cushaws could be lost by the next generation is (sic)  we do not reintroduce the squash to chefs, to home cooks, and to the kids being raised up so they have the cushaw food memory firmly implanted in brains. Cushaws not only taste good, they are part of our culinary heritage. At one juncture in our history, cushaw was preferred to pumpkin. It is time to celebrate the cushaw again!“.

As always thanks for stopping by.

signature, Sarah

 

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Everything, garden and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Attack of the Killer Cushaw – A Nearly Forgotten Old Time Food

  1. Bebe says:

    LOL !!! 350 pounds ???!!!! well, okay….what do they taste like….good eatin’?

    • S says:

      They are DELICIOUS! I will be posting a lot more about the Cushaw – the 2011 squash and this crop I have going on. They are so much fun!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s