Monday, 1 August 2011

Gem Squash - The Intrepid Explorer

This year, I am trying to grow gem squash for the first time.

I was inspired to try growing them by some South Africans that I got into conversation with about 2am one morning.  We got onto the conversation of my passion of growing veg - a conversation that seems to occur rather regularly!!  Then they told me about a squash that was very readily available in South Africa but very difficult to find in the UK and they loved the taste of it.  They got the laptop googled "gem squash" to show me pictures of the squash.  Their enthusiasm for this vegetable inspired me and I added it to my seed wish list for this season's planting.

So now I have this lovely cucurbit growing in my back garden.

Its quite a small cucurbit plant.  The leaves are relatively modest compared to its neighbours. It is a cucurbita pepo and shares the same latin name as the courgette which is also a cucurbita pepo.
The gem squash germinated really easily with all seeds germinating.  It did try to keep them at around 18-20 degrees centigrade during germination and the soil moist not wet as cucurbit seeds do have a tendency to rot very easily if kept too damp.

Out of the 6 that I germinated, I kept 2 and gave the other 4 away to the community gardens I support through my Master Gardener volunteer role. 

I did notice early on that they were developing into rather small squash plants but soon they were clambering all over the place, and started to crawl up my landlords shrubs.

I was very proud.  I love opportunistic veg!

But this morning I noticed something even better...  The most gutsy out of the two plants has started to climb the netting on the garden fence.  Fantastic!!

I am really hoping that eventually they will start to climb the sunflowers... but we will have to see

I am really looking forward to cooking with their fruit, but until that time, they are certainly going to keep me very entertained with their climbing habits!

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