For the Love of Squashes

For the Love of Squashes

I love growing squashes; they are a fantastic crop that gives a big harvest, you can even eat their lovely flowers that are beautiful to top a salad with. The first squashes we ever grew were Jack O' lantern Pumpkins. We sowed the seeds a little too late in the season but we still managed a harvest and both boys had a pumpkin for Halloween that they had grown from seed.

Squash plants need plenty of room and grow to their full potential in a well-rotted compost pile. My favourite variety of squash to date is Patty Pans. A few years back, fairly new to gardening myself, I bought Patty Pan seeds from a local supermarket, not really knowing what they were. I sowed the seeds as instructed on the packet and looked after the plants with a lot of care, and attention. I ended up with eight or nine really strong plants. So, I planted them all at the allotment near our compost bins with about 3 feet between them unbeknown to myself just how big the plants would grow.

Needless to say, they grew, boy did they grow! They filled the space at the allotment a little too well and were admired by a lot of other more-expert plot holders. I was truly pleased with myself, being so new to growing on and maintaining an allotment. We had patty pans coming out of our ears, I pickled them, roasted them, and gave them to everyone I could, friends, family and work colleges.

Since then I’ve always grown squashes, in loads of different varieties, I love how versatile they are and how many different and unusual variety’s you can get. Some of my favourites from last year were Munchkin Pumpkins and Red Kuri. Red Kuri are especially tasty when chopped and roasted with their skins on with a little bit of olive oil and salt and pepper.

If you have children pumpkins are the squash to grow, they spread their leaves all over the plot and have cute curly tendrils. My boys love hunting amongst the massive leaves to spot their tiny pumpkins starting to appear where there was once a female flower. Over the weeks the crop takes to mature, the boys saw a change in size weekly, until they were ready to harvest and carve. My boys find it hilarious how heavy their pumpkins become and enjoy using the wheel barrow to transport them to the car.

This year I’m going to continue my love for growing squashes by sowing even more varieties including Black Beauty, Golden Zucchini and Grisette de Provence.

To get the best plants it best to sow squashes indoors from March to May and outdoors in April. Plant the seeds on edge with a covering of half an inch of compost in small pots. Keep in a warm place in a heated greenhouse or windowsill try to keep the compost moist. You should see the plants starting to appear in around 10 days.

Happy Sowing

Claire