- Author: Alison Collin
How could one possibly refrain from trying a vegetable variety that goes by the intriguing name of Smooth Criminal?
One of the most exciting developments in squash breeding has resulted in a space-saving, vertically growing hybrid, and for those of us who are tired of the endless battles controlling the summer squash bug population this variety may go a long way to help reduce the problem.
For starters, Smooth Criminal which is the result of the breeding program at Seneca Vegetable Research and the University of New Hampshire carries the gl-2 mutant gene which reduces spines on the plant, both on the leaf petioles and stems. This makes harvesting and checking for squash bugs less skin-abrading for the grower, and the young tender fruits have less damage to their surface.
Not only that, but this plant has an upright habit, with the pale yellow fruits produced sequentially along the stem. Although it will need to be staked it has been found by some growers to be less attractive to squash bugs because the fruits are carried well off the ground.
However, none of the information regarding this prolific squash makes any mention of its flavor so time will tell as to whether the positive aspects of growing it are worthwhile.
To offset this I have decided to grow an AAS award winner, Caserta-type hybrid squash, Bossa Nova, (see photo above) which has a compact bush type habit and is said to have an excellent flavor with very smooth flesh. The fruits which are generally zucchini shaped are pale green with darker green patterning, are uniform, and produced early and over a long season.
For a few years I have been growing Tiana F1 butternut squash which has become my all-time favorite for its smooth texture, strong colored flesh, straight-sided blocky shape, prolific crop, and excellent keeping abilities. I have just eaten, in mid-February, my last fruit which was harvested in late September. However, it has one major downside – the sheer size of the plants. One plant covers almost half my vegetable plot, rampaging over any other crops that are in its way, rooting wherever a node touches damp soil and continuing on across the lawn.
I really needed to find something smaller so this year I will be trying Butterscotch. This is another AAS award winner that produces smaller fruits on compact, semi-bush plants needing only 6sq.ft of space each and is said to have a very complex sweet flavor. It should produce fruits weighing between 1-2lbs and will keep in storage for about 3 months. An added feature is that it is also resistant to powdery mildew. It will be interesting to see if the compact form with fruits closely produced in the center will make it harder to see and reach any squash bugs.