Sweet taste of summer
SQUASH OF ALL VARIETIES: FAST-GROWING AND CAN BE TRAINED VERTICALLY TO SAVE SPACE
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.