Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been tucking into my first Turk’s Turban squashes.
These beautiful squashes were one of my experiments this year, having never grown them before. I grow plenty of butternuts every year, but ever since seeing this striking variety on Jamie Oliver’s Jamie at Home TV series, I’ve wanted to give them a try.
I finally got around to it, and am over the moon with the results. They genuinely are the most remarkable looking vegetable, and I’ve had both admiring and confused glances from neighbouring plotholders.
Tasty and Attractive
The good news is, as well as being aesthetically tremendous, they taste great too. Due to their shape, Turk’s Turban is tricky to peel (a decent veg peeler is a key here – mine cost me 7 quid but is worth its weight in gold when peeling squashes), and the flesh inside is tougher than other squash, but that soon softens during cooking.
So far, I have a single Turk’s Turban for curry, risotto and to make wedges. Each time the result has been as tasty as any other squash, and you’ve got to love getting three meals from one fruit. With a standard 850g butternut squash costing about 75p in the shops, a three-times-the-size Turk’s Turban feels positively bargainous.
Growing Turk’s Turban
When it came to sowing and growing, I didn’t do anything different with TT as I did any other squashes that I grow. I sowed them into pots of multipurpose compost inside my greenhouse during May, before hardening off outside when the seedlings reached 20-30cm high.
Hardening off properly is important. Squashes are tender plants, so they need to be ready for their new environment.
If a frost is forecast whilst the squashes are still at the seedling stage, protect them with horticultural fleece or bubble wrap.
I got my Turk’s Turbans out on to the open plot at the beginning of June. I normally aim for this date, as the chances of frost have normally passed, and you’re left with time for the plants to grow and the fruits mature.
I used mum’s tried and tested squash planting method for the planting out. I try to water my squashes 2-3 times a week, and by using this recess planting method, it keeps the soil moist, rather than wet.
I also added a big dollop of well-rotted manure into the hole before planting, as squashes can be rich feeders.
Like butternuts, this is a trailing squash so I’d recommend putting a stick next to the seedling when you plant out. This will help identify the base of the plant for watering once it has established and is sprawling halfway across your plot!