Bush vegetables have an advantage in gardens

May 16, 2012
No need to feel bushed. Some varieties of pumpkins have short vines and high yields which make them an easy addition to any garden.

When American soldiers occupied the Philippines in the early 1900s they adopted the native phrase “bundok,” meaning mountains, to mean a remote or wild place, and the boondocks has meant remote and wild since.

Moreover, if you were from such remote places you might be in the rural or bush league.

Of course, bush is also a short shrub or a shorter version of a taller vegetable.  So bush beans do not have tall vines like pole beans.  Bush vegetables have a big advantage over full-sized vegetables.  Since they are by nature shorter, they usually mature faster.  Also, you can grow bush vegetables such as bush pumpkins in a space far too narrow for vining plants.  Bush vegetables also are great for containers.

Take every kid's favorite, pumpkins.  The Cheyenne pumpkin (Cucurbita pepo) is an early pumpkin created by the USDA Field Station in Cheyenne, Wyo. in 1943. Cheyenne pumpkins have short vines with high yields of five- to eight-pound pumpkins.  The bright golden, fine-grained flesh is ideal for cooking. Cheyenne will produce kid-sized jack o'lanterns in just 80 to 90 days.  Plant the seeds directly in the garden or a large tub after all danger of frost has passed.

Another bush pumpkin is Rouge Vif D’Etamps or Cinderella.  This is a flattened wheel-shaped pumpkin with deep ridges. The bright orange-red skin protects the sweet flesh.  Cinderella stores well and makes a great centerpiece. This one takes a little longer to mature, about 100 days to maturity.

High Mowing Seeds offers Organic Sweet Reba Bush Acorn squash (Cucurbita pepo).  Sweet Reba produces all season long on compact bush plants.  You can expect four to five winter squash from each plant. With its short vines, disease resistance, high yield, and best of all, great flavor, Sweet Reba deserves a spot in the garden or in a patio tub.

Bush Delicata is another good short-vined winter squash.  This sweet potato squash grows on easy-to-manage three- to four-foot vines.  It is tolerant to powdery mildew disease so will produce all summer long. The cigar-shaped fruits have sweet, nutty-flavored orange flesh.

Watermelons usually grow on trailing vines that need a long growing season.  Bush Sugar Baby can be grown in a big pot or in short rows in the garden.  Bush Baby is a dark black-skinned watermelon with light stripes.  The firm red flesh is sweet and juicy. Best of all, you can plant this early watermelon right up until midsummer and still have ripe melons before frost. As with all watermelons, do not pick them until the tendril turns brown.  For sweeter flavor, stop watering melons for two weeks before harvest.

Salad Bush cucumber grows on very short, compact vines that do well in the garden or in containers.  You will be amazed when this tiny plant sprouts full-sized dark green eight-inch cukes.

Another good bush cucumber is the Bush Pickle Hybrid.  In just 45 days from planting you can harvest four-inch-long-light-green cucumbers perfect for pickling.

So don’t “beat the bushes” (a way to scare birds when hunting) looking for quick plants you can grow in containers or in short garden rows.  Choose bush watermelons, bush pumpkins and bush cucumbers, and you will have a garden that is not only productive, but easy to grow.  No need to feel bushed.

  • Paul Barbano writes about gardening from his home in Rehoboth Beach. Contact him by writing to P. O. Box 213, Lewes, DE 19958.