Wednesday, 16 May 2012

A Bit of a Squash!

From the middle of August the path was completely lost in a sea of huge leaves and trailing stems of triffid vigour that manage to be brittle, succulent, bristly and hollow all at the same time.  Frost hits these like a blowtorch, leaving the exposed fruit sitting on the ground like an abandoned clutch of monstrous eggs - Monty Don


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Every year I have a go at growing winter and summer squash, courgettes and cucumbers.  Some years I have more success than others.  Last year was disastrous except for courgettes and summer squash.  The weather was against me, and I fear it will be the same this year, the way things are going.  But - never say die - I keep on trying, and maybe, just maybe I will get a good harvest.

Summer Squash - Sunburst
In the greenhouse I now have several types that are growing reasonably well and I am beginning to transplant them into larger pots.  I am sure it is still too cold to plant them out yet, so I will just keep nurturing them indoors till I feel it has warmed up enough.
Spaghetti Squash
One of the drawbacks with all the plants from this family is that they require so much room to grow once they are in the ground and they don't do very well in containers.  I have tried a few times and the results weren't very good at all, even when the seed packet said they were especially for containers.  Some are referred to as 'bush' types, but even these seem to sprawl, and are not as compact as they are supposed to be.
Courgette - Midnight
As you can see in the picture above I planted two seeds in this pot and one is definitely a much stronger plant.  So when I pot them on I will keep the weaker of the two as a spare just in case anything goes wrong.  The thing is that even the weak ones seem to do well eventually, then you have a surplus of courgettes, that you haven't a clue what to do with.
Cucumber - Crystal Lemon
I have already had a disaster with the cucumbers.  Out of the four seeds that germinated I have lost all but these.  So I decided to buy a grafted plant to see if I could do any better with that.  It was quite expensive to buy and is one of the long cucumber types rather than the half-size that I prefer, but it will be worth the cost if I can get it to grow and produce cucumbers for the summer. 


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Do you have more luck than me growing squash and other plants of the Curcurbit family?

42 comments:

  1. My Blue Kuri squash have germinated and are growing well, but there's still no sign of the Uchiki Kuri, yet they were sown the same way and kept on the same windowsill. I've only got one seed left so I shall get that sown and see if I can do any better. My courgettes were sown a number of weeks ago and have been kept in the greenhouse. They took weeks to germinate, but they have done so eventually and now look good strong plants.

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    1. I've never tried those two varieties - will have to give them a go next year - there are so many varieties to choose from.

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  2. We're still holding fire a little on this family although some courgette seeds have germinated inside under the grow light.

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    1. I reckon it will be a few weeks yet before anything can be planted out - I must try and curb my enthusiasm until the right time.

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  3. I am trying courgette, cucumber and butternut squash for the very first time, but I am not holding my breath. So far north here and rather grey and cold still, so they are still in the mini greenhouse. The way our year is going they'll be staying there for the whole summer! Best of luck with yours hun! xx

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    1. We may get a late summer with a bit of luck - as you say - I'm not holding my breath - the plants will just have to take their chance eventually.

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  4. Other than the essential Courgettes, the only plant of that ilk that I grow now are Butternuts. They last right through to about March (indoors), and are (in my humble opinion) the best of all the pumpkin/Squash/Marrow family. All ours are now in the ground.

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    1. I must admit Butternuts are my favourites too - but last year they didn't perform very well, so I thought I'd try one or two others as well. I don't think I will be planting mine for a couple of weeks yet.

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  5. I usually grow a couple of courgettes, and one year I grew mini pumpkins. This year it's Patty Pans and I've two in pots at home doing well before they get planted out in a few weeks time.
    I've never had any luck with cucumbers, but usually get given a few by plot neighbours! Flighty xx

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    1. I did well with Patty Pans last year once they get going they come thick and fast, not an awful lot of taste to them but nice roasted.

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  6. Trying cucumbers for the first time this year, think I started them too early, despite the seed packets instructions, as they're chomping at the bit to get out. They look a bit ropey & brittle, but they're hanging on in there...for now!

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    1. Cukes can be very dodgy in my experience - one minute they are all right, the next they have keeled over and died. Good luck - you might need it.

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  7. Hi Elaine,

    In the past I have been fairly successful with squash. I get most of my plants from a friend who has an allotment (he always has loads left over)
    The problem here, as I have said before, is rabbits. Whilst they do not eat squash plants, they do dig at the roots of most vegetables. This year no veggies for me, I am tired of putting up protection etc .......it just becomes a chore, rather than a pleasure.

    Good luck with yours, hope they do well

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    1. I can't imagine not growing veggies Cheryl I have done it for so long - I do lose my enthusiasm a bit when things go wrong - but I think the rewards are worth it.

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    2. The rewards are definately worth it Elaine. Nothing tastes as good as homegrown veg :)

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    3. I know Cheryl - I still get a thrill out of it after many years of growing veg.

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  8. Courgettes are a no brainer and I have a lot of luck with outdoor cucumbers and gherkins. But I have the worst time ever with pumpkins! I'm growing a few varieties this year and have been piling up the muck for them. Hopefully they'll do better than in years past.

    I grow on two seeds in every pot as well but like you I usually am left with two plants and way too many of what I wanted! This year I'm being far more brutal and simply pulling out the weaker of the two. I'm already feeling less anxious about finding room for everything ;)

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    1. I am going to try a cucumber outside this year if they survive long enough - not sure where I'm going to put everything - it's always a tight squeeze. I wish I could be as ruthless as you

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  9. I generally have success with courgettes with the exception of last year when they all had blossom rot so I got a tiny harvest. This year I'm trying to growing squash (patty pan and sweet dumpling), and pumpkin for first time. Will grow courgettes. Cucumbers seed haven't germinated so doubt I'll be growing them.

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    1. Why is everyone having such a hard time getting things to grow - is it all down to the weather being so weird. Whatever it is we should all persevere - it's got to come right eventually!

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  10. You are way ahead of me so far this year. None of my squash and cucumber plants have germinated and I am having to start afresh. In past years I have had most success with 'Jaspee de Vende' squash. It has been very prolific, with sweet, golden flesh and it is a wonderful keeper.
    Last year was a disaster for squash and cucumber, I always grow the latter outside. This year is not shaping up well!

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    1. Sounds like we had the same problems last year - so far so good with the squash plants but there is still a long way to go. I have never heard of that variety, but there are so many aren't there. Good luck with your new sowings.

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  11. The courgettes are growing away happily in the greenhouse. I have grown butternut squashes and cucumbers before but that was in a poly tunnel. The way things are going this May it's going to be a long haul in the veg garden.

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    1. I agree Janet - hopefully by September it may have begun to warm up!

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  12. It's my first year so will have to see how I get on!

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  13. Fingers crossed - what we need now is a bit of warmth and they will romp away.

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  14. Astonishing glimpses of poetic Curcubits :). Congrats on a very lovely taste.

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    1. Thank you - glad you enjoyed the post.

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  15. Hi Elaine,

    Like you I despair of the weather yet live in hope of a good crop...gardeners have to be eternal optimists...

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  16. my cucumber seedlings survived the grow house blowing down and are still doing well... the first lot of squash seedlings did not, so i am on my second lot!
    several varieties doing well and the blue banana squash that i had given up on have at last germinated over w eek later than everything else... i grow quite a few squash as we like them and they store well... last year was difficult for them, this year i hope will go better!

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    1. I love squash too but they take up sooo much room - glad your cukes survived - mine are teetering on the brink.

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  17. Looking good Elaine ~~ I will grow some this year but your so right they do require a lot of room to grow but the end results are always worth it! Hope your weather warms up!
    Hugs Rosemary...xo

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    1. Hi Rosemary - guess what - the sun has got his hat on - hip hip hip hurray, the sun has got has hat on and he's coming out to play! Hopefully I'll get my squash planted out this week if it stays warm. At last.

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  18. Hi Elaine,

    Love the blog, just found it so lots of reading to do. I am in Australia after migrating here over 30 years ago, appreciate the English gardens and all the cold climate things you can grow. I have added you to my frequently visited blogs so you may get a few more visitors from here in Aus. Have a great day Shirley :)

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    1. Up until today 'cold climate' is very accurate - at last spring is showing its face and the sun is out. Hopefully all the veg that have practically been turning blue, will now romp away

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  19. Nice pictures of the Squashes, Cucumbers & Courgettes.I hope they are successful & tasty. I normally only sow Ridge Cucumber (Evesham 76)? & Pumpkins. Same as you with the Cucumbers last year, a disaster. I've just planted some out yesterday. 26 out of 30 have made it so far. I sowed 2 Giant American Pumpkins a couple of months ago (on the manure heap). The 1st 1 germinated last weekend.

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    1. Can I ask why you grow so many cucumbers?

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  20. This cold and wet spring has been a disaster hasn't it. None of the seeds I sowed have germinated, even the hardy old runner beans have failed miserably. I feel quite disheartened this year with my veg, but at least the weather is set fair for a few days or so. Good luck with your pumpkins Elaine, they always seem a very rewarding thing to grow.

    Jeanne
    x

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    1. Oh I'm so sorry you are having such problems will you go out and buy some plants to make up for your non-germinators - it has been such a weird spring - the poor old plants don't know whether they are coming or going. I am sure it will all come good in the end (she says optimistically).

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  21. Hi Elaine, just getting round to catching up with my fave blogs - this post has generated quite a reaction! Reassuring to know we're all in the same boat. We've had a beautifully hot day today, still warm now at nearly 10 p.m so I'm starting to 'harden off' a few plants that have been languishing. Hoping for some nice steady weather (none of this hailstones one minute, sunshine the next) to give the plants a chance to establish outside in the garden. Am working during the week so hope that the weather lasts! Looks like we could all suddenly get very busy!

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    1. You're telling me Caro - it has been sweltering today but I've managed to get so much done - the plants actually looked relieved to get planted out, after being stuck indoors for so long. Long may it contine (until we need more rain, that is).

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