November 14th, 2007
Summer Squash ‘Early Prolific Straightneck’

summer squash Early Prolific
2007-11-13. Squash for dinner at last!

Well despite massive losses to the squash borer, we finally managed to eat some summer squash from the fall garden. I harvested three squash between four and six inches long. Together they weighed a bit more than 3/4 of a pound. AJM wished he’d known how much squash there was as he would have made his favorite pasta dish with summer squash, cherry tomatoes, pine nuts and olive oil. There are a few more squash out there so he might still have a chance.

‘Early Prolific Straightneck’ is open-pollinated, an heirloom vegetable which was an All America Selection in 1938. According to the seed packet, (from Botanical Interests), ‘Early Prolific Straightneck’ can be “…harvested very small for ‘baby’ vegetables. Can be steamed, grilled, sauteed, eaten raw in salads, made into relish, and made into bread. If left on the vine, (it) will grow so big that it will effect the orbital spin of the earth.” If this squash lives up to its marketing at all, it’s well worth growing. Because we ended up with so few squash, I let them grow a little larger than I like. I prefer to eat them very small when there aren’t too many seeds.The flavor was very good and the texture firm and creamy. I’m definitely going to try to grow ‘Early Prolific Straightneck’ again, maybe in the spring.

So far, my one night harvest ended up being 3/4 of a pound. The seed packet was $1.89. I’ll have to price summer squash at Central Market to see if the economics pan out (Update: summer squash at CM is $1.49 a pound.) The flavor was excellent. And I know there are no pesticides or anything nasty sprayed on them. And no fossil fuels were used to transport them to my kitchen.

Garden History

I’ve included the temperature ranges and rainfall to compare fall vegetable gardening in Austin to other times of the year and to other locations. Even for Austin 2007 has had a warmer than average fall. I find it difficult to keep seedlings going in early September when Austin temperatures can reach into the high 90s and even the 100s. It’s also been very dry. It rained once, about an inch, on October 22nd when a cold front dropped temperatures 20 degrees.

2007-09-09. Planted 3 seeds to a hole as directed. (45 days to harvest). Highs in the mid-90s, lows in the high 70s. Planted in the new berm made out of dirt dug excavated during the construction of the garden house. This “dirt” is mostly rock mixed with clay and caliche. I added three bags of Texas native hardwood mulch.
2007-09-16. Almost all the squash came so thinned and transplanted thinnings.
2007-10-23. As the first squash are beginning to form, plants are attacked by squash borers. They bore into all the existing fruit turning the squash into mush. I pick off the fruit and cut out all the borers I could and mounded dirt up over the vines where I cut off leaves. Some plants survive but about one-third don’t. Highs had climbed into the low 90s but just dropped to the mid-70s before the squash borer attack.
2007-11-13. First harvest. (65 days). High temperatures in the mid-80s, lows in the mid-60s. Almost no rain during the entire growing period so I had to provide supplemental water.

by M Sinclair Stevens

8 Responses to post “Summer Squash ‘Early Prolific Straightneck’”

  1. From Carol (Indiana):

    Yum! Summer squash in the fall. Sounds delicious!

  2. From Kathy (New York):

    Admit it . . . just for a moment you were tempted to affect the orbital spin of the earth.

    Indeed. Tempting. Very tempting. By the way, when I was writing this up I remembered how you thought that a good alternate name for my place might be “Zanthan Laboratories”. I like that. I hope I have reported my experiment accurately. — mss

  3. From Pam:

    I have a horrible time with squash borers here in South Carolina. They almost always win – so I’m envious of your harvest! That’s the variety I generally plant too, and each year I am determined to get a harvest (I would never do the ‘by the pound’ comparison, I know that I would not win that one) – ahhh, such optimism!

  4. From healingmagichands:

    I have had a lot of success planting Thai purple basil as a companion plant to squash. It seems to repel both squash borers and squash bugs. It is very beautiful too. I have also read that nasturtiums also act as a repellent for borers, although I have not tried them. You might want to try companion planting and see if it helps you.

    Rachel also mentioned nasturtiums as squash borer repellant and I’m definitely going to try that out next year. — mss

  5. From Angelina:

    I’m so happy you got to eat some of the squash. I hope you’ll have enough for the pasta dish too-that sounds so good to me right now!

  6. From g:

    I planted early prolific straight neck last year and on 5 vines I gave away squash several times, ate it all the time that it produced, and still put up 22 bags in the freezer. The squash was just as good and tender at 7 inches as it was at 5. Those were the biggest plants I have ever seen. I put them where I had a lot of trees that I burned and had a lot of ash left in the dirt. Everyone that saw the vines and tasted the squash could not believe them.

  7. From gerald georgia:

    forgot to enter the location in my earlier post.

  8. From Bodeen, Indiana:

    You really only got three squash? You should have them coming out your ears every year. They should easily out produce the costs of the seeds. Hope you have better luck this coming up season.

    Vegetable gardening is a challenge in Austin. I do much better with herbs. — mss