Sweet taste of sum­mer

SQUASH OF ALL VA­RI­ETIES: FAST-GROW­ING AND CAN BE TRAINED VER­TI­CALLY TO SAVE SPACE

The Citizen (Gauteng) - - CITY - Alice Spenser-Higgs

One of eas­i­est veg­etable fam­i­lies to cul­ti­vate and they all grow eas­ily from seed.

Veg­eta­bles are be­com­ing much more var­ied and in­ter­est­ing to grow. Car­rots are no longer just or­ange, toma­toes red or eggfruit pur­ple. Even squash is be­com­ing mul­ti­coloured and there are in­ter­est­ing va­ri­eties to grow like spaghetti squash that looks just like its pasta name­sake, and baby but­ter­nut.

Don’t be con­fused by the terms sum­mer and win­ter squash. That’s an Amer­i­can­ism, by which the quick to har­vest squash (baby mar­row, patty pans) are re­ferred to as sum­mer squash and long sea­son but­ter­nut, spaghetti, gem and Hub­bard squash as well as pump­kin are re­ferred to as win­ter squash.

In South Africa they are all sum­mer squash with a plant­ing win­dow from Au­gust (ar­eas with­out frost) to De­cem­ber.

The main plant­ing sea­son is Septem­ber and Oc­to­ber. gems, but­ter­nut and pump­kin) can be trained ver­ti­cally to save space.

Go­ing ver­ti­cal suits them be­cause there is bet­ter air-cir­cu­la­tion around the leaves and the fruit is kept off the ground.

Tie care­fully onto sup­ports be­cause the stems are very brit­tle.

Other re­quire­ments are sun­shine (morn­ing sun and af­ter­noon shade is ideal) and or­di­nary gar­den soil that is well-com­posted with ad­e­quate drainage.

Plants need reg­u­lar, even daily wa­ter­ing in very hot weather. Wa­ter around the base of the plant, keep­ing the leaves as dry as pos­si­ble. This pre­vents fun­gus dis­ease. ‘If the leaves wilt dur­ing hot mid­day heat, don’t panic,’ says Mar­laen.

“It is their mech­a­nism to con­serve wa­ter. If the leaves don’t re­vive when its cooler, then wa­ter­ing is nec­es­sary.”

Any­thing you can do with pasta, you can do with spaghetti squash. It blends with meat, cream or tomato sauces or toss with pesto. Don’t throw away the skins but pile the fill­ing back into them, gar­nish and serve. Gen­er­ally, each half is enough for two peo­ple.

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