Squash – Uchiki Kuri

If you are used to thinking of squash as the ubiquitous butternut squash you can buy in supermarkets then this one will knock you over with it’s intense chestnut flavour. It is one of my favourite squashes and I grow it every year.

To grow squash, sow in April undercover. I like to sow in root trainers which are long thin pots which split open to release the plant for planting. They are ideal for big seeds or plants that don’t like having their roots disturbed. Fill the root trainer with compost. Push one to two seeds per root trainer about 1.5 cm deep. Water and top up with compost if needed. Keep moist but not damp. If the squash gets too big for the root trainer before you can plant in the ground you will need to plant in to a larger pot. You will probably have to pot on at least once before planting out. The addition of heat in the form of a propagator or warm room when sowing will increase success.

Plant out after all risk of frost has passed, with each plant at least 1 meter apart.  Squash are sprawling plants that like to grow in full sun, in a very fertile but well drained soil, enriched with copious amounts of well rotted manure. Water well at the base of the plant during warmer weather. A stick placed at the base of the plant on planting out can be a useful way of finding the base again once your squash plant has turned in to a monster. Just as it is hard to over water your squash, it is almost impossible to overfeed it. These are hungry plants and will relish weekly feeding.

For small squash like Uchiki you can try growing up a trellis or other solid support. Water copiously at the base of the plant throughout the growing season and if you haven’t used manure, you will need to feed often. As fruit are ripening you should remove leaves that are shading the fruit to encourage ripening.  Harvest in late October or earlier if frost threatens. Harvest with several inches of stem to prevent rotting. Leave in the sun for up to 10 days to cure (harden). You could do this in a greenhouse or conservatory if rain if forecast. Once cured store in a cool dark but frost free place.

Uchiki Kuri should be stored for 2 months to improve sweetness before eating and should keep for another two months after that.

In the kitchen

This is a rich, nutty squash. It’s exture is slightly more floury than you might be used to. Try roasting until caramelised, as a filling for pasta or adding to soups, casseroles, risotto, stews or dhal.

Yields and plant health

You will get around 4, two person sized squash per plant. Plants are generally healthy but may suffer mildew later in the season, especially if watering is insufficient.

Grow Again?

I grow it every year.

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