This weekend, I sowed my 2014 squash seeds, in pots in the greenhouse. Whenever I sow these seeds, I always marvel at how something no bigger than a thumbnail can go on to be so darn useful.
I love growing squashes. They’re nothing short of tremendous, and for so many different reasons.
I first began to appreciate the enduring quality of squashes when I ran my Grow Your Own Money-Saving Experiment. Not only did they save me over 40 quid in a year, but I also loved the way they stored for so long. I learnt that saving money from growing veg is about having crops available all year, rather than expensive gluts in the middle of summer.
Squashes are fabulous, as you can harvest them in September, and they’ll store all the way through to the following May (in fact, eating the last of the previous year’s squash and the sowing of the first of the new year’s will often overlap). Having these veg on hand for all that time is a real bonus, especially at nearly 2 quid a kilo in the shops.
Another smashing squash attribute is its versatility. I’m not sure there is anything culinary you can’t do with it. Since I’ve been growing squash, I’ve used it in lasagne, salad, curry, soup, risotto, pasta, falafels, and pizza. I’ve stuffed them and even made muffins.
I’ve also found squash a super and longer-lasting alternative to the spud, making wedges and mash, as well as roasting it. Most squashes will contribute to two meals as well.
Squash fruits are attractive too, and the flowers, the vines, and the fruits make really eye-catching features on my allotment. This year, I’m trying Turk’s Turban, which is an incredible looking fruit, but there are lots of other interesting varieties to try.
Easy to Grow
The icing on the squash cake is the ease in which I’ve grown them. I pop a seed in a small pot of multi-purpose compost in mum’s greenhouse and plant out in May once the plant is about 15cm high.
One tip I’d recommend is to put a stick next to the plant. They sprawl all over the shop, so it is really useful to know where the roots are when watering. They need a lot of water, and I tend to put them in a little hollow so the liquid stays in around the plant, where it’s needed most.
If you’re looking for a reliable variety to try squashes the first time, I’d recommend Hercules F1 or Harrier F1. These have excellent germination rates and with regular watering, each plant will produce at least 3-4 fruits.