Growing Squash and Marrows
Growing Squash and
Many(particularly those used for ) and squashes make compact, bushy plants suitable for small gardens. They can be grown in the main plot or, if space is scarce, in grow bags or tubs (their big leaves and large yellow make quite an interesting feature on a patio).
Most squashes have a sweeter, drier-textured flesh (often orange in colour) than marrows and are nearer to the large traditional pumpkins in flavour. They may be boiled whole, cut up and baked, or roasted with a joint of meat. The yellow-skinned ‘Golden Zucchiniand the scallop-shaped ‘Scallopini’ squash can either be cooked in the usual manner or sliced and eaten raw in salads. When you are growing squash, they will need a long period of growth – so sow them early.
The following applies to both growing marrows and growing squashes. If started indoors, sow in 75 mm (3 in) peat pots in mid to late April; if sown outdoors in the main plot, sow two seeds in each growing point at intervals of about 40 mm (1-1/2 in) in mid to late May, protecting the seeds and seedlings with cloches. Thin later to the strongest seedling at each growing point. Whether grown in pots or outdoors the seeds should be pressed into the growing medium to a depth of 20-25 mm (¾-1 in), covered with , and watered in. Whether you are growing squash or growing marrows, you will need to gradually harden off the outdoor plants by removing cloches in the mornings on fine days but replacing them at night until danger of frost has passed.
Sunny, sheltered sites are best, and the plants need a rich, moist soil. When the plants have hardened off, prepare them for transplanting as follows. Dig out a hole for each plant about 250 mm (10 in) deep and 350 mm (13-1/2 in) wide and fill with well-rotted compost (or manure if you can get it) and a sprinkling of a general fertiliser. Cover with soil and insert the plants. The sites should be 600-750 mm (24 – 30 in) apart. Keep the soil well watered.
Pollination is sometimes erratic, especially in cool weather when few pollinating insects are about. Assistance may be given by snapping off an open male flower, stripping it of petals, and pressing the remaining point into the centre of a female flower. It is best to use a new flower for each assisted pollination. Male flowers do not have the swelling behind the flower.
The main pests are slugs and snails and these should be kept under control with slug pellets.
Harvest courgettes when they are 125-150 mm (5-6 in) long; the round‘Tender and True’ forms excellent courgettes about 75 mm (3 in) in diameter. Squashes are harvested according to type when ready; ‘Scallopini’ is about as early as marrows and courgettes, but most squashes are later. When you are growing squash, you will need to crop regularly to keep plants in production. If left to grow on, most courgettes will form good marrows but the crop will be less numerous. Many squashes and marrows store well in a dry, frost-free place; the zucchini varieties of courgettes are suitable for freezing.
It is usually possible to start cutting marrows in July; keep cutting them when they are young and the plants will continue cropping until well on in September. If some large marrows are to be stored for the winter, leave the late fruits in position and cut them late in October.
, should be cut when they are not more than 6 in. long.
Roller, produces long white fruits without any ribbing. A heavy cropper, excellent for the north.
Long Green Trailing, has cylindrical-shaped fruits, larger at the blossom end than the stem end. Dark green with lighter stripes.
Moore’s Cream, smooth, creamy-skinned oval fruits of excellent texture.
Custard White, produces a creamy-white fruit with a scalloped edge at its concave base.
Green Bush, has dark green fruits with pale green stripes.
Tender and True, a prolific variety producing a flat type ofwith no scallops. The skin is mottled green. Good flavour when cut young.
Other Recommended varieties: ‘Custard White’ and ‘Custard Yellow’ (marrows), round, yellow or white fruits, best eaten young, semi-bushy; ‘Golden Zucchini’, F1 (or marrow), yellow fruit, good cropper, bushy; ‘Scallopini, F1 (squash), flattish, round, green fruit, sweetish white flesh, best eaten young, semi-bushy; ‘Table Ace’, F1 (squash), acorn-shaped, dark-green fruits, rich-flavoured yellow flesh, keeps well, semi-bushy; ‘Table Queen’, F1 (squash), small acorn-shaped fruit, dark-green fruits, rich-flavoured yellow flesh, keeps well, bushy; ‘Tender and True’ (marrow), suitable for young ‘round’ courgettes, excellent cropper, semi-bushy; ‘Zucchini’, F1 (’Early Gem’) (courgette or marrow), good cropper, bushy
Site: Sunny, sheltered
Soil: Rich, moist
Sow: Mid to late April indoors; mid-to late May outdoors under cloches
Harvest: From July onwards according to variety and usage