I have had a continual problem at the end of the summer and in the early fall when there is no time to mature for baby Tahitian Melon Squashes. I have written a lot about how I love the Tahitian Melon Squash:
- Better Than Butternut Squash
- Growing Winter Squash
- Winter Squash Growing Great
You can imagine towards the end of the season, when I have all these new baby squashes growing and I know there is not enough time for them to ripen, how disappointing that would be.
Solution for No Time to Mature For Baby Tahitian Melon Squashes
So the first few years I let the squash grow hoping that there would be enough time for it to ripen. Even though we have a long growing season I was always disappointed. I got squash that was quite big but not that deep rich color which shows that it is fully mature. Then I would cut them open and the flesh would be such a muted color that I wouldn’t even call orange. I know that the deep rich orange color is so healthy full of beta-carotenes!
Someone and I can’t remember who suggested harvesting the squash when they are small and using it as a zucchini. I decided to try it. This was the first year. They are totally green with some stripes at this stage as you can see from the picture. I decided to slice them about 3/8 inch thick. Some slices were small from the neck and some were quite large. They were all the same thickness.
Recipe for Not Mature Tahitian Melon Squash
I arranged the slices on a baking sheet that was sprayed generously with Pam. I baked them at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Then I removed them from the oven and turned them all over. Then I baked them for another 10-15 minutes. You can vary the time depending on how soft you like them. We were in for a great surprise. They are truly delicious!! We have enjoyed many of these this season and we just found the one above in the last 2 days and it is near the end of October. Just one hint–Don’t let them get too big. Pick them before they start to lose the green color and the stripes!
Here is another recipe that could be used for these squash: recipe baked zucchini slices. For information on getting Tahitian Melon Squash seeds.
In a recent post called Saving Monarch Caterpillars I asked the question of what happened to all our monarch caterpillars. Now I am wondering: “Were our Monarch caterpillars eaten by praying mantis?” I thought Monarchs were protected by eating Milkweed which has cardenolides in it. This chemical is toxic to many vertebrate predators. But that was not to be the case. Out of all the caterpillars we saw we only found 4 that made it to maturity. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t more because maybe we didn’t see them. And we saved 12 caterpillars that we raised to maturity and released.
Evidence for Monarch Caterpillars Eaten by Praying Mantis
A strange sequence of events happened this year in my garden that I am just now piecing together. A neighbor of mine bought a gift for me–2 egg cases of praying mantises. We are both gardeners and the praying mantis is a good addition to an organic garden because they eat a lot of bugs. I put one egg case in my front garden near to where my common milkweed Asclepias Syriaca was growing. This is the second year of my common milkweed. I have had Butterfly Weed or Asclepias tuberosa growing in my garden for years but it never attracted the Monarch butterfly. It attracted lots of pollinators but not the Monarch. It was scattered in the garden. Maybe it needed to be clumped together for the Monarchs to notice it.
So I don’t know how many praying mantises came out of that egg case. I did see the one in this picture on the wall next to our front door. This wall is next to the Milkweed. A perfect spot to look for his next meal. It just astounds me that we had so many caterpillars and then they disappeared.
Lessons to be Learned
So were the monarch caterpillars eaten by praying mantis? I don’t know for sure but if I see any more praying mantis in this butterfly garden I am going to remove them to the back vegetable garden. And if you are given or find a praying mantis egg case put it in your garden far away from butterfly host plants. The praying mantis will also eat a butterfly. We just have to remember that this is the circle of life.
Click on the link for more information from National Geographic supporting the question of were the monarch caterpillars eaten by praying mantis?