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From plot to pot: Make room to squeeze in squash

PUBLISHED: 14:37 18 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:59 20 February 2013

From plot to pot: Make room to squeeze in squash

From plot to pot: Make room to squeeze in squash

Belinda Grey on a vegetable worth stashing away for winter

Belinda Grey on a vegetable worth stashing away for winter




Growing squash and pumpkin in the kitchen garden is valuable for stashing away for winter, when fresh pickings are few. If you follow a few golden storage rules, these gloriously colourful vegetables can be kept for up to four months. The choices for growing are huge and not even JK Rowling could have thought up the Warted Hubbard, Uchiki Kuri, Turks Turban or the Green Hokkaido!
Belonging to the cucurbit family, pumpkins and squashes are easy growers, requiring warm soil to kick start germination in late spring and space for their trailing vines. Growing through taller crops is a clever idea and this year my vines are snaking through my towering sweetcorn. In Victorian gardens they were planted in mounds of fertile soil and I follow this practice here, for effective drainage and warm earth, ensuring regular watering, as they are heavy drinkers. Limiting 3-4 squash to each vine ensures decent size fruit and restricting growth by pinching- out the growing tip once the flowers have formed. Some I allow to trail up low wigwams of bamboo canes, mini varieties like the pumpkin Munchkin up an obelisk or alternatively coil them in a circle, ensuring the developing fruits sit on a bed of straw, deterring rot. Harvest before the hard frosts hit, when skins turn dull and a gentle tap sounds hollow, leaving 5cm of stem attached to each fruit on cutting, preventing entry of bugs.
Keep the skin on for roasting, cut in half and drizzle with olive oil for the quickest of suppers, stuff with a feta cheese mix for more excitement with a sprinkling of herbs or pine nuts. Puree the soft, roasted flesh to accompany scallops, dice and roast in risottos, add chunks to your favourite curry or mash with seasonal game. Use grated in baking for delicious breads, muffins or cakes and dont forget the Thanksgiving pie. Mix with Thai, Moroccan and Indian spices to make vibrant soups impressing guests with the hollowed out skin used as a serving bowl. So try and squeeze in the squash and make room for the pumpkins. Belinda Gray


Belinda Gray runs a vegetable gardening school and design business near Woodbridge. Contact her for course information at www.the-grower.co.uk or 01394 384712

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