Fans of this squash of a poetic nature will wax lyrical about its origins. After all who doesn’t find the idea of growing an heirloom variety, dating from the 1600’s from a small italian coastal fishing village on the Venice lagoon somewhat romantic?
Fans of this squash of a culinary disposition will describe its rich, sweet, nutty orange flesh that melts perfectly in to pies or grilled and drizzled with olive oil, best served to you in a bacaro on the streets of Venice.
Fans of this squash of a more earthy temperament will tell you that it is a decent squash that grows well.
In the kitchen
Marina Di Chioggia is a large squash, around 20 – 25 cm in diameter and 2 – 2.5 kg in weight. Some suppliers say 5 kg each but I’ve never managed that.
To cut it you will need a large sharp knife. Cut from top to bottom along the slight ridges the remove seeds and peel.
Perfect for soups, pumpkin pie or grilled/roasted (with a drizzle of olive oil from a passing Venetian if at all possible of course). Try this recipe for Roasted Pumpkin and chorizo Soup
Marina Di Chioggia can be stored in a cool dark place for up to 6 months and has one of the longest shelf life of all pumpkins/Squash. You should leave it to store for at least a month to develop flavour.
Health and plant yield
Marina Di Chioggia is suited to British climates and if you keep it well watered and fed you should get 2-4 decent sized pumpkins per plant. Like most squash it will tend to get mildew later in the season but this doesn’t affect the fruit. Watering and feeding will help the plant to fight it as much as possible. Some people have also suggested spraying leaves with milk may help.
Because this is an hairloom variety the fruit can be very variable. It will normally be a seagreen colour but can verge on brown. It can be very wrinkled and warty or fairly smooth as in the picture. The greater the sugar content the more likely you are to get the warts but that needs a very good summer with lots of sun but also copious water.
Maybe. Crown Prince is easier to peel, a little more productive and just as flavourful.
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.