Butternut Squash

Squashes have always proved difficult for me to grow. I have tried growing them from seed many times and many times I produce nothing. 
The first challenge I face is that the leaves die off and rot away before anything can even be produced. Usually some bug attacks them or the Florida humidity molds them to death.
If I get past that stage, it will start flowering but no fruit fully develops. This is due to the lack of successful pollinators for the squash (bugs and bees) and the fact that they require both the male and female flower to bloom at the same time to produce the final product. 
This year the plants grew. Squashes leaves traveled in all directions. Finally I had enough blooms to attempt to hand pollinate the squash fruits. The end result was two butternut squashes (the nicest and tastiest one is above. To pollinate, you find both the male and female flowers. The female flowers have a green undeveloped fruit attached and the flower has an opening of sort. The male flowers have no fruit attached and a stamen (long yellow stick). I break off the male flower and clear room around the stamen. I then rub the stamen all around the female squash stigma. If things go well, a tasty squash will grow. This method seems to work for me 70% of the time.
The bugs and heat are once again attacking the squash in my garden. I will be pulling the plants out soon. When it works, they taste fantastic. However I don’t have the real estate available in my garden to sacrifice to only produce 2 squashes for the season. I think this will be my last year growing them. They crowded out all the tomatoes so I have no tomato crop this summer.

I did enjoy my roasted butternut squash accompanied by sauteed spinach and quinoa.

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