I Love Cucurbita

Sep 23, 2016 | Love This!

 Name: Cucurbita

Type of Plant: Pumpkins and winter squash. Usually a large growing annual vegetable vine.

Why I love this: Cucurbita is a genus of vines in the gourd family. Included in this genus are pumpkins, gourds and winter squash. I love the tasty winter squash and pumpkins, and how versatile they are in the kitchen. Pies, cakes, breads, stews, and assorted side dishes can all be prepared with the fruits of these plants. And, they are beautiful! Fortunately most vines are prolific enough to provide squash and pumpkins for cooking and for ornament.

A Word to the Wise: Grow these in well amended soil and fertilize early with an organic fertilizer. We spray the foliage with an organic fungicide as well to help keep powdery mildew from killing the plants early in the season. Water deeply but less often so the developing fruit aren’t kept constantly moist. Mulching around the plants so that the fruit is kept off of the soil helps prevent rot.

These plants grow large and long. In the spring it seems like you’re giving them plenty of space but they will soon cover that ground and move on to take over the neighbor’s yard.

Think about growing these plants up fences and arbors. Make an arch out of the wire reinforcing fencing sold at home stores and grow pumpkins and squash over that. Or plant some vines to scramble in and around strong shrubs and small trees.

Here is our community garden plot in July. See the low patch of green leaves in the back, to the right of the sprinkler? That is the "Pumpkin Playpen" that my husband made. We planted five or six varieties of squash and pumpkins in that area. Did they stay contained? Absolutely NOT! They have taken over a good half of this garden, scrambling up tomato supports, winding in and out of dahlias and rows of basil, and generally grabbing all the land (and sunlight) they can.

Here is our community garden plot in July. See the low patch of green leaves in the back, to the right of the sprinkler? That is the “Pumpkin Playpen” that my husband made. We planted five or six varieties of squash and pumpkins in that area. Did they stay contained? Absolutely NOT! They have taken over a good half of this garden, scrambling up tomato supports, winding in and out of dahlias and rows of basil, and generally grabbing all the land (and sunlight) they can.

Our pumpkins and squash might have taken over most of the garden, but they've produced some lovely fruit! We've grown pumpkin pies, winter squash soup and a coach for Cinderella.

Our pumpkins and squash might have taken over most of the garden, but they’ve produced some lovely fruit! We’ve grown pumpkin pies, winter squash soup and a coach for Cinderella.

I visited a garden in Atlanta where the owner had planted some very ornamental squash so that they wound in and around shrubs. Now the fruit hang like ornaments. I'm going to try this next year...

I visited a garden in Atlanta last week when I was attending the annual conference and expo of the GWA association of garden communicators. The owner of this landscape had planted some very ornamental squash so that they wound in and around shrubs. Now the fruit hang like ornaments. I’m going to try this.

 

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