Squash is not just delicious, but is a healthy and versatile addition to your backyard garden, as well. Squash is high in vitamins A and C, and an excellent source of all natural fiber, potassium, folate, and iron.
The squash we are familiar with today evolved from wild squash which originated in the region between Guatemala and Mexico. Wild squash has grown for over 10,000 years in North America, and the first squash plants were harvested primarily for their seeds, as they contained only small amounts of bitter flesh.
Squash was grown natively by the Wampanoag and was considered one of their three staple crops, along with maize and beans. Over time, as squash cultivation moved across America, Portuguese and Spanish conquerors would introduce the squash crop to Europe. Eventually, making its way around the world.
Moreover, the Iroquois referred to these plants as the “Three Sisters” for their ability to work symbiotically to correct soil, provide protection for crop growth, and proper nutrition in the body. Additionally, the word “squash” comes from the Narragansett (Algonquin) language, further solidifying this crop’s roots in Native American history.
Start Growing Squash
Typically, squash is divided into two types:
- Summer squash, which has thin, edible skins and is harvested while slightly immature.
- Winter squash which has thick skins are harvested after maturation. Additionally, they can be stored for consumption through the winter months.
First, determine which type (or types!) of squash you prefer to grow based on your taste and harvest or storage preferences. Remember that summer squash tends to have a much shorter shelf life than winter squash. Also, that winter squash is known to make excellent sweet or savory side dishes and desserts in the cooler months when stored.