Thursday, March 1, 2018

Favourite squash

I'm not a huge squash fan, and I must confess to being confused about the whole difference between a squash and a pumpkin thing. Because unlike the USA, who are the largest producers of pumpkins - in Australia, we actually name some of our squash, pumpkins (aka: the Butternut pumpkin).

But there is one squash that bucked the trend, and absolutely turned my head. It said: "hey, I grow well in your climate, and you can eliminate kitchen gadgets, that turn vegetables into noodles!"


Literally...I saw these selling at Betros for $6.99 each!
~ luckily, I managed to grow several of my own

I am, of course, talking about the spaghetti squash. Nature's own, vegetable noodles - wrapped in skin, that will break down in the compost. No plastic bags required. The magic that happens when cooked however, is how their flesh breaks apart, to resemble delicious spaghetti. Only they don't contain gluten, or much carbohydrate. Which means, if you're trying to avoid bloat, plastic wrap, or food allergies, this is an excellent substitute for pasta.

When I say, easy to grow in my climate: there are some conditions which make them fair better.

Hilltop Chicken Coop

The best position, I found, was beside the chicken coop. Why? Because it gets the run-off from the roof, and is shaded in the morning. So during long hot, summer days, it receives a little less baking time. I also planted the squash near a pigeon pea tree, so it's likely feeding off some nitrogen, at the root zone.

The above, is what the squash looked like after summer. All the vines I planted elsewhere: died, however. It has to do with our block retaining walls, which is another post for another day! With summer temperatures, reaching a top of 43 degrees Celsius, however, it pays to find the right spot for your vines to grow.

Tip: they like to have their vines out in full sun, but their roots kept cool, during summer. This is recommended for a hot growing season, climate only.

 New fruit

With the heat of summer, mostly behind us though, and some soaking autumn rains - the squash has kicked back into production. How's that for hardy? We don't get much of a winter here, either, so we'll most likely have this squash on our dinner table too.

I only grew 5 spaghetti squash in total, from around 10 vines, planted. So not a good yield this year, on numbers alone. But they did have to produce on the natural elements, alone too. Minimal water was given, during the heat of summer. I just didn't have it to spare. So they didn't even get watered during the worst of it.

A seed nursery, of sorts

The 5 spaghetti squash I mentioned earlier, however, was more like 4 and a half! This little one, was considered a runt. So it was left under the verandah, in a half-hearted, "what are we going to do with it", kind of way? During those consecutive days, ranging from 41-43 degrees Celsius, however, nature thought it made a pretty good greenhouse for the seeds to sprout!

So not only did we salvage this squash, for our dinner (how I came to open it up) but the chickens also received, some sprouted seeds for breakfast!

If you have a hot climate, or can manufacture one through radiant heat sources,  the spaghetti squash should do well. Just remember, if you don't have much supplemental water to give during summer, you might want to plant MORE vines, than you think you'll need. If you save your seeds too, you can be liberal spreading them around. I've had no problem saving seeds. In fact, I hope to breed a really tough variety!

I wonder, do you get confused about the difference between a squash and a pumpkin?


  1. Yes Chris, I get confused too. I think my hubby grew spaghetti squash one year. I don't think any reached the kitchen though so am not sure what happened to it. It is quite fascinating though I must say. I should try and grow some in the compost heap as so much grows there quite nicely. LOL!

    1. If it gets too cold or damp, it may develop a fungal disease. I found the vines that did the best, here, were ones that could climb up, and over something. Which created good air circulation and reduced fungal diseases.

      I have some spare seed if you like, Chel. But unless you're going to plant it next to a radiant heat source (brick wall, cement slab, etc) you'll have to wait until spring, to plant the seed out again.

  2. I love spaghetti squash, Chris. I've never tried to grow it myself though. Might have to see if I can find a spot here to give it a try. Meg:)

    1. You've tasted it, then? Fantastic! I was really surprised by the flavour, because I don't normally like squash. Even my zucchini has to be fried with garlic and soy sauce, before I can enjoy it. But spaghetti squash, makes a great carrier of flavours. We normally make ours with a carbonara sauce.

  3. Yes I'm definitely confused! I do like spaghetti squash but my one attempt to grow them failed, I think it was a very dry year, I shall try again when I have a garden organised! Liz (Eight Acres)

    1. You'll love having your garden set up, at your new farm again. They do take time to mature though, don't they? Working in all those organic improvements, takes a few seasons to enrich the soil. But I know you did pumpkins successfully on your former property (8 acres) so your squash should fair well if you provide similar conditions, eventually, in the new place. :)

  4. Yes, just as confused as everyone else. I've never tried spaghetti squash or seen it for sale. I must give it a go. Amazing that the seeds germinated like that!

    1. The confusion, must be an "Australian" thing, because we consider the name interchangeable. If we use a squash, more like a pumpkin, then it's a pumpkin, lol. In the US, I know they refer to it as a butternut or turban, squash though. In Australia, they're both pumpkins! It boggles the mind.

      Please shoot me an email, Bev, if you'd like some seeds. :)


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