Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Many-Headed Hydra

This is my first time growing yellow crookneck squash. Last summer we had an overload of zucchini, so we restricted our planting this year to one zuke, and added one crook.
The season began gently enough. We pulled summer squash off the vine while they were still young and small. Don't want any of those huge green cudgels out there (although one or two biggies did sneak in).
Then the crookneck plant began a strange growth surge. Instead of growing upward and bushy, it proceeded to march across the lawn in an ever-lengthening ooze. Robust, yes, but charging into the southern sun, like a platoon of stiff-legged North Korean marching soldiers.
And it developed a most unusual flower cluster. More than one flower cluster, actually. This thing was popping out babies like the Queen Ant in the Hive of Hell. Most of the babies stayed oddly small, so we didn't panic. In fact, we ignored the thing.
In so doing, we accidentally allowed a couple of yellow cudgels to develop. (There's one in the lower right of the photo, under the leaf.)
You can't really tell from looking at the pic how bizarre it is. With the naked eye and a biologically correct swiveling neck, you can take it all in: There are literally bouquets of baby squash squirting out of this plant.
I don't know what we're going to do about them all. But October is Eat Local Challenge 2008.
I'm sure the squash would be delicious with cherry tomatoes.
Good thing we have a few of those, too.


Kalyn said...

My yellow squash plant was producing clusters like that this year. I don't think I've ever had squash plants with quite so many squash growing in the same spot. No idea why.

dancingmorgan mouse said...

You could pickle them. Perhaps the growth is a last desperate attempt to spread it’s seed, as it were.

namastenancy said...

I knew that there was something mutant in the water over there. They are coming to take over the world. HaHA!

el said...

Wild. I have had other squash do that, but crookneck are my favorite (it's a yellow thing) and I would've been happy to see that on mine. (Cudgels, though? Check.)

It looks like you will be a-feasting, CC. What kind of cherries are the darker ones?

Zoomie said...

Teenage mutant ninja cudgels.

Anna Haight said...

Whoa! Wildness breaking out! Those cherry tomatoes look vibrant! Definitely no problem for you with the eat local challenge!

Choosy Beggar Tina said...

How do they do that? Really, how is it that you check in the morning and there is a wee baby squash just starting to emerge from it's floral cocoon. Then you come back in the evening and Jabba the Squash is lounging on the leaves, playing the theme song to "Little Shop of Horrors" on a portable FM radio.

cookiecrumb said...

Kalyn: What a weird summer; wouldn't you be the first to agree? I wish I could make something yummy like squash pudding. Well, maybe I just will.

Morgan: Best idea yet. I love that. Horny little plant.

Nancy: But they look so meek and pastel and... Run! It's a trap!

El: It's not a bad thing. It's just terribly odd -- in my limited experience.
Those beautiful brown cherries (about the size of an egg yolk) are Chocolate Cherry. Sweet, deep flavor and juicy.

Zoomie: Poetry-inspiring, isn't it? Let's see, what rhymes with cudgel?

Anna: I do OK in the local eating. I decided not to take the challenge this year, though. Even though there's almost no room in my stomach for anything other than what we've grown.

Tina: They are from Tatooine. Creepy.

Dagny said...

Squash flowers! Next time things are looking out of control, harvest some of the flowers.

cookiecrumb said...

Dagny: You know how it is, though. By the time the squash blossom is big enough to get your attention, it's already attached to a burgeoning baby.
Besides, the blossoms are full of ants. Which I suppose I could deal with... But I might not want to deal with fried, cheese-filled flowers. And then disposing of the grease you fried them in.
Sigh. It's so *hard* to be a suburban farmer.
PS: That was the second tomato soup recipe I've looked at in two days. Thanks! I think we're on to something.

kudzu said...

I can't deal with fried ants, with or without cheese.

Watch out for the squash casserole that envelopes whole towns and counties, but make one really good one before you pack up the yellow donations for the Food Bank.

Heather said...

I'm in the process of taking a break from my blogpost about what to do with my millions of pattypans (roast them, make risotto) to see what you're up to. And I see you have problems of your own over here.

Brittany said...

I wouldn't mind having your problem! My one and only plant that I've kept alive for a few years- my big beautiful bay plant, just bit the dust in our lightening fast weather change from super hot to dumping rain.
My thumb is so not green.

The Spiteful Chef said...

I can't even walk BY those squash without thinking "Hookdick squash." Which makes dancing morgan mouse's comment all the funnier. Squash grow very quickly and can't be killed. Like giant cockroaches. And the plants have invisible pain-fuzz on them. Invisible splinters suck. Still, I you are such a great gardener, and I am forever jealous.

Michelle said...

I was going to suggest you fry up some of those flowers (I've always wanted to do that) until I read about the ants. Though "They" say chocolate covered ants are quite tasty - maybe cheese covered fried ones are too? Love those tomatoes!

cookiecrumb said...

Kudzu: I'm all for donations to the food bank, but these odd little crooknecks are... well, odd and little. Not very "commercial" looking.
I have concocted a crookneck pudding in my head, though. Like macaroni and cheese, hold the macaroni. And sub in the squash.

Heather: You are taking such a beautiful approach to your problem! Jeez, rain already? Soldier on.

Brittany: OK, that's HEARTBREAKING. My very favorite plant is my Greek laurel (bay). It has had good times and bad, but it is thriving now. I hope you will get another one.

Spitey: Invisible pain-fuzz, yes. But it's a lot worse on the cucumbers, which have visible pain-fuzz. They make gloves for this, ya know.
BTW, I'm not a great gardener at all. I just have a good plot, good sun, good dirt... and my husband does all the heavy lifting. I do the harvesting.

Michelle: "They." Heh heh.
Hey, you're the scientist... Formic acid in ants, right? Burny in the mouth. No thanks.

Greg said...

Why does this plant remind me of Audrey in the Little Shop of Horrors? Feed Me!!

The Culinary Sherpas said...

Eat the FLOWERS! stuff em with Mozzarella, lightly dust with flour and fry, baby, fry.

...I covet your squash blossoms....

The Culinary Sherpas said...

Oh, and I do a crook neck squash casserole (like the Mac & Cheese idea) every year for Tday and it is very, very good. It also freezes super good, too.
Salt/ Pepper
Cheddar Cheese
A little flour
Bake until bubbly.

cookiecrumb said...

Sherpas: I know. I even have a recipe for squash blossom, um, salsa (I guess you'd call it). I'm wasting food here.
But!! I LOVE your casserole. Almost exactly what I was going to concoct. Can I put an egg in there?

Michelle said... know, you're probably on to something there. No thanks for me either. I never trusted "They" that much anyway. But hey, I'm a marine biologist - no ants in the ocean ;)