Few ingredients speak of this time of year like the humble squash. These plump beauties are rich in beta-carotene – proven to help maintain healthy skin -.and provide a wonderful foundation for hearty family meals. Pete Adams, from The Royal Horticultural Society, explains how to grow your own…
Names such as Turks Turban, Buffy Ball and Sweet Dumpling don’t immediately call to mind thoughts of an autumnal harvest. But each of these names refer to a variety of squash grown for their unique and wonderful nature. Squashes make a great addition to the vegetable plot and rather pleasingly, they are easy to grow in the UK.
I chose to sow my squashes in the greenhouse in late April, in pots of seed compost. They are quick to germinate and it is worth potting them on into larger pots before planting them out in the veg plot (after the last frost passes). Don’t be fooled by these ‘innocent’ looking young plants. They seem to have one aim and that is to get as big as possible as fast as possible, so they will need lots of room to spread out. A useful tip, if you are short for space, is to gently encourage them to grow up fences or trellis, though you may find a need to support larger fruits as they develop.
Through the summer months the fruits will swell, and with larger varieties you may find it necessary to remove some of the young fruits to allow others to fully mature in size and flavour. During September and October, it is also worth removing any leaves that may be covering the fruits to allow the sunshine to ripen the skins. In late October, before the first frost, bring your squashes indoors and store them somewhere cool and light to use later in the kitchen.