I found out on one of our trips to back to Tennessee this year that my husband had no idea what kudzu is. On occasion those tiny nuances that are engrained in my being and completely alien to him arise and remind me that I married a non-Southerner. And such a strange feeling to live in a place so near home and yet cut from completely different cloth, a state that borders the South and yet might as well be another planet.
But I digress. As I drove the winding back highway to mom’s, I pointed out the kudzu eating the landscape, swallowing barns and other myriad amorphous shapes of things long forgotten under those eerie emerald leaves. He was dumbfounded at the sight of it and the botanical characteristics that make it such a nuisance. It must seem strange to someone who’s never seen kudzu, like some plant from science fiction come to eat the rural South, and yet the very sight of it to me is comforting, decided proof I lived in Mississippi too long.
Upon returning home, flashbacks to the story of how we came to have kudzu in the South and how it took over washed over me when I saw that of all my squashes and melons, in the ideal temperature and rain amounts, a Japanese selection I ordered out of curiosity had all but taken over the front of the house during the week we were gone. We moved into this house too late in the winter for me to plant the bulbs I wanted along the front gardens, so en lieu herbs and a few compact vegetable plants took those places for the year. At least, they were intended to be compact.
The Red Kuri squash seeds I planted had proceeded to take over the front, growing approximately twenty feet in total length and making for surprisingly attractive vines trellised along the front. Thus it makes its way into this heirloom series, recommended for simplicity of growth and productivity as well as attractiveness, but one that requires space.
And not only are they attractive and productive, they are delicious. Their flavor is mildly nutty and semi-sweet, but more than their flavor it is their texture that is so amazing. Super creamy, these make ideal soup and pies. They keep very well and those we have left will become soup this winter.
Red Kuri Squash (Cucurbita maxima) is a hardy Japanese winter squash. Also known as Orange Hokkaido Squash, Japanese Squash, and Onion Squash. Fruit has thick red orange skin, similar to a small pumpkin without ridges, and are about 4-10lbs each. Prolific and easy to grow from seed. Great keeping variety, 92 days.