The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

The Cheveley Two. Growing butternut squash in a barrel

homegrown butternut squashThis year I grew a butternut squash in a barrel on our gravel drive. It’s southwest facing and gets sun all afternoon when the sun makes an appearance. It was my first journey into the world of squash growing.

This meant several tense moments reversing at speed as a passenger in Danny’s car. Finally I announced.
“If the wheels of your car touch even a leaf of that plant I’ll..”
The reversing operation was carolled into a ten foot spurt ending with a gentle roll. He’s cut it fine but rubber tyres never touched squash stems all summer.

I reckoned that butternut squash have a very long shelf life so would be a great vegetable to grow in a household where “Let’s bung it in the freezer” is the answer to most gluts and lucky discoveries.

If we could grow them, they could sit in our larder for months. And they probably will as the fun was more in growing them rather than the prospect of eating these chubby specimens. The barrel was filled with chicken poo and homemade compost. The squash loved the combination. Twining and sprouting like a plant possessed. These two fruits have been growing for weeks, nurtured with cans of water and weekly feeds.

Tonight I reached for our kitchen machete and harvested the pair. There are still several mini squashes developing on its tendrily stems. All we need is a week of warm sunny days for them to really take off. I reckon that these fully grown ones were diverting all resources and the teeny squash needed a break.

Until now I’ve just flirted with squash. Like marrow and courgettes, they have never been at the top of my shopping list. I’ve enjoyed them in the past, simmered and sprinkled with pepper and served with a knob of butter. They are also great for soup and enhance endless dishes. Last year we made marrow rum how about squash rum?

“They are a great thing to grow.” I explained to D. “Even if it just makes me feel good seeing them increasing in size. And we’re going to eat them. I promise that I’ll tell you, after the event.”

Even D has become fond of the Cheveley Two.

  Leave a reply


  1. Hello, I’ve just stumbled across your super web site while searching for recipes. Have bought & eaten loads of butternut squashes this year so was aiming to grow them next year. I love the idea of growing them in a bin, so great hear yours have done well!

  2. We ended up with 9 sqaush plants this year, I only meant to plant 2!!!
    My daughters got to ALL my seedlings early on in the year and swapped all the labels around. I tried to guess what was what from the look and smell of the leaves, but got it wrong – its very hard to tell a sqaush, from a courgette, melon or cucumber! I had no hope in telling one variety of tomato from another either. So the greenhouse melons turned out to be squash as did the courgette plants planted amongst the sweetcorn! Fortunatley, at least I guessed the cucumbers right!
    We had a similar issue with the tomatoes, and I’ve eneded up with mostly plum and tumbler varieties within my growbags! Plum tomatoes have done really well this year though.

  3. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Belinda

    We are back but still struggling with the migration. Poor D has spent the entire weekend on the cliff face.

    Thanks so much for the tips. Love the sound of honey and the nibbles. I could live on the latter!

    Hello Kate(UK)

    Great that you have more squashes this year! Our aubergines are the same as yours. Even though ours germinated in late January they have never flowered. They looked so pretty on the pack but have just flaunted my tender care!

    Hi Sarah

    Great that you are enjoying the site!

    Thanks so much for the recipe. You could be amongst the small possey that turns D’s head towards the rewards of squash growing this year…

    Hello AndreaC

    D’s mouth was watering when he read your comment. So thank you. Pancetta is a wonderful idea and I have some in the freezer.

    Hi Cathy

    Thanks so much for adding your recipe. Love the idea of adding apples (we have a glut this year). Thanks for dropping by.

    e don’t have many to harvest but it’s a start and they were great fun to grow.

  4. Butternut squash is my favorite “winter squash.” I love it roasted and love it in soups. My favorite squash soup is one by Deborah Madison in the Greens Cookbook that has red chilis and mint in it. For holidays I roast it with hot red pepper, ginger, apples, and a tad of brown sugar just to encourage the carmelization. My extended family members gasp and giggle because they can’t believe they’re eating squash.

    Yours look lovely. I’m glad your vines have been so happy this year.

  5. I am experiencing squash-envy reading your post! All our butternut squash plants failed this year, but next year I will try again and adopt your method. I LOVE butternuts, and also thought that they would be good ‘keepers’ for the next few months.
    I love to roast and stuff them. Cut in half lengthways, scoop out the seeds, spray a bit of oil and sprinkle with salt and roast until soft. Then fill with a mix of cooked pancetta, lots of garlic, a dash of creme fraiche and some cheese.
    Also great in risottos and cooked down with garlic and cheese to mix with homemade gnocci..mmmmm….
    Great site! I came across it looking for a rosehip syrup recipe and now I’m a regular 🙂

  6. Hi…. I’ve not commented before, but I do love the site, even if I can never hope to be as close to small-holderness as you are.

    Anyway, butternut squash – makes divine soup with a little butter, garlic, nutmeg and stock. Stew til squishy, then blitz. My seven year old ASKS for this as a special treat… It’s thick and velvety (no thickener needed, although some recipes do call for potato. Total waste, in my view) and a fantastic golden colour. Best with homemade bread and strong cheddar.

    I’ve only got 5 butternut squash growing this year, all only as big as my hand at the moment. Fingers crossed for more sunshine in the south east.

  7. kate (uk)

    We’ve had more squashes than last year, but the weather hasn’t been ideal AGAIN.I’m cutting larger fruits off too in the hope that this sunny spell brings a few more on to eating size. Aubergines have gone on the compost for the second year running- no way were they going to get fruit before the day length was too short…

  8. Yes thank goodness your back! I tried to have my weekly fix yesterday & was a little dismayed, but hoping it was just a glitch..

    Butternut squash are a fave here.

    I love them with a baked dinner (bit like pumpkin, but sweeter) I cut them into thick wedges, skin on, drizzle with a little oil, or use spray oil, sprinkle with salt, pepper, nutmeg, and then drizzle on a little honey. Bake until tender, and slightly golden ( I love the burnt bits if I get any)

    This is good, cut into chunks (if there is any left) and stirred into pasta or risotto.

    wash 8 roast the seeds with oil & salt, maybe a sprinkle of chilli, great nibble with drinks.

  9. Fiona Nevile

    We’re back. Thanks for your concern. All is well in England, I think. We’ve moved the site to a new server – didn’t twig how long it woud take! Apologies.

  10. Patricia Byron

    Where are you? I keep getting a message that your site has been “disabled” – what is going on? Is everything ok in England??


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags are not allowed.

2,233,150 Spambots Blocked by Simple Comments

Copyright © 2006-2012 Cottage Smallholder      Our Privacy Policy      Advertise on Cottage Smallholder