The kabocha squash is a pumpkin-like, grey-skinned squash from Japan. I have no room in my little 24 foot by 24 foot raised bed garden for winter squash or melons, but we have piles of partially rotted tree trimmings so I planted the squash in one of those. A few inches down, the pile was still very warm as micro-organisms were actively converting the wood into humus (no, not the luscious chickpea dip), so I wasn’t at all sure it would work, but my only loss was the cost of a packet of seeds.
As you can see, the vines started off very strong, and did produce seven full-sized squash. Then over the past two weeks the vines died off with several of the squashes never having made mature size. Perhaps this is normal, or perhaps not — the cucumbers in my garden all died at the same time leaving many baby cucumbers shriveled. In any case, the return on that packet of seeds was well worth the minimal cost and effort involved.
Thinking the smaller squashes may not be worth keeping, I cut them all open. They did have some places that were starting to rot, but otherwise looked and smelled promising. Roasted (slathered in coconut oil and Tsardust Memories seasoning), they turned out quite tasty, even with the skin on. I ate a few and then skinned the rest and later converted most of them into a Savory Squash Casserole. Dogs love cooked pumpkin and mine loved the leftovers from these as well.
Below are the full-sized squash: not a huge harvest, but ridiculously easy, and next year the mulch pile will have rotted more and be less hot, so hopefully there will be more squashes.
These were Winter Sweet hybrid kabocha seeds from Johnny’s Selected Seeds. Since they’re hybrids, saved seeds won’t breed true. Next year I’ll look for a variety I can plant and save seeds on my own, or failing that, I’ll save seeds from several of these squashes and work my way towards a reproducible, non-hybrid, kabocha squash.