Great food connects us to the earth as it begins with rich soil, fresh water, and clean air. Organic squash is grown without toxic pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or GMO seeds. Start by filling your raised bed garden with an organic vegetable potting soil, like Dr. Earth’s Home Grown Organic Potting Mix, and choosing local organic seeds. By choosing organic, you can help to conserve local biodiversity, improve habitats for butterflies, bees, and animals, and enhance the soil and water quality.
Squashes are easy to grow, and have been cultivated for over 5000 years in North and South America. Summer squash varieties have soft skins and are best harvested early and eaten when they are young and small. One plant can produce so much fruit that it is hard to keep up with them as they are so fast growing. Most summer squashes are a bush variety, while winter squashes come on sprawling vines.
Winter squashes are more nutritious and hardier than summer squashes, being rich in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Pumpkins seeds are particularly rich in protein and beneficial oils. Planting the squash with supports, like in the spaghetti squash in the picture, allows them to be planted closer to other veggies and keeps them off the ground. Native Americans planted them with corn and beans and called them the Three Sisters. When they are grown together, their roots nourish each other with compatible nutrients. These foods are also nutritionally balanced with vitamins, protein, and fiber. You can train vigorous climbing varieties along a wire fence or trellis. Winter squashes must be fully ripe for the best flavor, with a tough skin that can’t be dented with a fingernail for storage. Kids can cut the ripe squash from the vine, leaving the stem attached, cure for 2 weeks in a warm place, and store in a cool place for up to 6 months.