The Jameela Butternut

About 27 years ago, Jameela Ali Rink gave her husband a small handful of Butternut squash seeds, since he dabbled in plant breeding and organic gardening. She told him, these seeds came from a butternut squash of good size, excellent flavour, nice dark orange flesh and a particularly small seed cavity; all very desirable traits.  

From that year, butternut squash was grown from those original seeds, and every year selected for size, colour,  flavour and good storage characteristics. Usually, at least ten plants were planted and often in different parts of the garden. There was never any risk of contamination, since no other members of the same species, Cucurbita moschata, were grown and the garden was spacious at some 20.000 square feet. Neither were any of this species grown in neighbouring yards and gardens.

Although size could not be seen to increase every year, there was a consistent trend in that direction, with seasons that happened to have provided particularly favourable conditions, also giving noticeable improvements overall.

The culture was always organic – biodynamic and that yard had been organically gardened for generations. The soil preparation for the butternut consisted of piling up leaves, discarded plants and weeds, straw and cut grass during the fall prior and mixing it with some wood ash. No other amendments were used. This pile was then left to decompose over the winter, and subsequently blended with the soil as soon as the ground could be worked in March/April. The seeds were always planted during the first week of June, and were watered only for the first couple of weeks, if the June weather happened to be particularly dry. For most seasons no watering was needed. The seeds were never planted indoors to try get a jump on the season, but that can also be done.

The 2017 season was unusual. June in particular, and even some of July was very wet and uncommonly cool. August and September were average warm and sunny.  The butternuts on the following pages were planted 10. June and harvested 26. September. By that date, they had reached the full, mature harvesting colour.  It is assumed, they took longer to maturity on account of the cool, wet weather early during their growing season.

None of these very large butternuts have been opened or tasted so far, but several slightly smaller squashes from the same plants tasted exceptionally good, with particularly creamy consistency after cooking.


All these masses are in grams