Blooms on my Seminole Squash greeted me this morning. Along with surprisingly cool temperatures. At 7am it was actually only 70F . No mosquitos. No humidity. And joy, two more blooms on my Seminole Squash.
These first blooms are male and their goal is to draw the pollinators. Indeed the bright yellow of the blooms is captivating. When the female blossoms with the fruit potential bloom, I trust the butterflies and bees will find them.
It’s been a struggle to figure out what has been eating my squash buds. I think back to my undergrad days of studying William Blake’s “invisible worm that flies in the night” and there is no more apt description to what has been invading the garden cucumbers, squash and sunflowers. Except with the large Seminole Squash blooms, birds must be cohorts. Something large enough to snip the large bloom cleanly and leave not a trace. If it were only the invisible worm stealing the blooms, he leaves crumbs and other traces of his feasting.
Seminole Squash, a native plant to Florida, was supposed to be easy to grow. Its name comes from the Calusa and Seminole tribes who grew the squash in the Florida heat and sandy soil. My neighbor who gave me my first plants said she practically threw it on the ground and it started growing. And so I watched on YT. People just toss a seed and in no time Seminole Squash has taken over their yards and produced 40 lbs of squash.
Not so for me. I planted two Seminole Squash plants in their own raised bed shared with another native plant, tropical salvia. One squash plant winds aggressively around the trellis and wants to travel across the yard to the live oak tree. If it reaches the live oak it will trellis (yes, I made it a verb) the tree.
The second plant has stayed on the ground and its first flower must have been consumed while it bloomed. After a cohort skeletonized the leaves.
The leaves of the Seminole Squash are a mottled green coloring, presumably because deer and squirrels are finicky about the leaves they eat and the mottled-ness makes them appear to be unhealthy and sick. The insects that have dined on the large leaves are not so discriminating about their foilage. I have finally given in to using BT to keep the leaves less decimated.
I am not aware the squirrels are selective about their greens and have not interviewed the opposums or armadillos about their preferences. I suspect it was the teenage opposum (seen lurking near the garden) who stole my cucumber, dropping it far from the vine in the long grass. It was only revealed days later when I mowed the lawn.
As for the birds who can snip off the greenery and fly with the prize, I have resorted to cutting up foil and draping it around the Seminole Squash plants. It’s rather gaudy but will do until I build a more complicated construct to protect the squash.
Seminole Squash are a little more sweet than butternut squash. The flowers are also edible (if a critter doesn’t get them first) and I’ve read that some restaurants sell the blossoms as a $$$ delicacy. Interestingly based on my observation, the bloom only stays fully open for one day.
I have taken the seeds from the first Seminole Squash I ate and am seeding them now to put in grow pots closer to the Live Oak tree. Let’s hope with these cooler temperatures those plants will produce blooms and will get to producing fruit.
If you’re interested in reading more about the squash and its history, here’s an interesting article.