Archived posts 2013/15

Cucurbitas that look after themselves

Our most recent community workshop focused on growing vegetables from the cucurbita family, e.g. pumpkin, kamokamo, and zucchini.

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Cucurbitas require a fair amount of space, but can be trained to climb fences, or allowed to spread out over lawns and paths. They will chase the light so it’s okay to start them off in shady corners.

The formula is simple: start with a layer of twiggy mulch, and then pile on a mound of compost before sowing seeds or planting out seedlings. Cucurbitas can be grown in a sack – like we did at the workshop. (If using a sack, the compost should be very rich, or supplemented with liquid fertiliser when required.) Once established, the plants will require very little maintenance.

Some people will have seen weed pumpkins sprout out of compost piles. Due to possible cross pollination, the results may vary, but – if you have the space – why not let one of the seedlings reach maturity? Don’t forget to pinch off the growing tip once the fruit starts to set.

Many thanks to Sigi for hosting the workshop, and – once again – to Hannah Zwartz for donating her time and expertise.

We are looking forward to a bumper crop in several months’ time. The flowers are excellent battered and fried or can be used in soups. I am looking forward to experimenting in the kitchen with the leaves.

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