Species: C. maxima, C. moschata
The squash (Cucurbita spp.), also known as pumpkin, is an annual herbaceous plant belonging to the Cucurbitaceae family.
The species is native to central/south America and is currently grown almost all over the world.
The varieties most commonly cultivated belong to two species: Cucurbita maxima Duch. and Cucurbita moschata Duch.
The plants grow in spring and summer, all the phases of cultivation occur within 6 months, from sowing the seeds to harvesting the fruit.
This species should be planted in full sunlight and prefers soils rich in organic matter; it needs to be watered well while the plant is growing, but when the fruits are growing it prefers a dry climate.
In nature squash plants grow as climbers which, in the absence of vertical wall or supports, can seem to be creepers.
They have a fascicled root system which grows to a depth of around one metre, however the majority of the roots are found in the layers of soil near the surface.
The stem is very sturdy; it grows to a length of several metres (from 2 to over 10) and has tendrils, which can anchor the plant to vertical supports.
The leaves grow to a considerable size and are attached to the stem by long petioles. The shape of the leaves varies according to the variety, they are usually heart-shaped or palmate with lobes that are not very pronounced.
The flowers are bright yellow and are supported on fairly long thick peduncles.
The squash is a fruit with characteristics that vary according to the specific variety. The fruit can be round, turban-shaped, elongated or flat and can vary in colour from yellowy orange to green. The skin can be smooth or wrinkled, and can be “warty” or have ribs and stripes.
The flesh is yellow/orange and almost completely fills the fruit; the cavity inside contains filaments that bear the seeds.
In the kitchen the flesh is widely used, it can be eaten, cooked, on its own or as in ingredient in more complex dishes. You can also eat the seeds (roasted) as well as the flowers (fried).
|Scientific name||Cucurbita maxima, cucurbita moschata|
|Recommended Seeding||In Pots|
|Number of seeds||1|
|Sowing Depth||2.00 cm|
|Distance between rows||180 cm / 210 cm|
|Distance between rows||100 cm / 150 cm|
|Estimated number of plants/sqm||1.00|
|Average growing time||100 gg / 150 gg|
|Average sprouting time||10 gg / 12 gg|
|Ideal Sprouting Temperature (C°)||15 °c - 31 °c|
|Min. Temperature (C°)||10 °c|
|Soil pH||6.00 / 7.00|
|Can be grown in pots||no|
Lunga di Napoli (Cucurbita moschata var. lunga di Napoli) produces an elongated fruit that grows to around 60 cm in length and is swollen at one end. The skin is smooth and green, and is much thinner than that of the average squash. The flesh is orange and almost completely fills the fruit. Lunga di Napoli has a sweet flavour and in the kitchen it is used raw in salads or as an ingredient for both sweet and savoury dishes.
The turban squash (Cucurbita maxima var. turban squash) is of a “mushroom” shape which divides the fruit in 2 parts: an upper part, which is large and usually red, and a lower part that is smaller and can be of various colours.
The skin is smooth on the upper part, while the lower part is “warty” and uneven.
The flesh is orange, with a sweet flavour and a floury texture.
In the kitchen it is used as an ingredient in dishes such as soups and purées.
This variety is appreciated and used for ornamental purposes, due to its peculiar shape.
Violina (Cucurbita moschata var. violina) is a squash with an elongated fruit that is slightly narrower in the centre and yellowy-hazelnut coloured; the skin is wrinkled and has shallow longitudinal ribs. The flesh is bright orange and has a very pleasant flavour.
In the kitchen it is used to make soups and creams, or as an ingredient in more complex dishes.
Hubbard (Cucurbita maxima var. hubbard large blue) is a variety typically grown in North America.
It is medium sized, slightly elongated and has an irregular shape; the skin is greyish green and wrinkly with longitudinal ribs that are not very pronounced. The flesh is yellowy-orange and very tasty.
In the kitchen it is used to make soups and purées or as an ingredient in more complex dishes.
The Butternut squash (Cucurbita moschata var. butternut) comes from North America.
It has an elongated shape, slightly larger at the bottom. The skin is smooth, yellowish hazelnut coloured and thinner than average. The flesh is yellowy orange coloured and compact. It has a highly appreciated sweet flavour, this is why it is used in the kitchen to prepare purées and soups or as an ingredient in more complex dishes.
Marina di Chioggia (Cucurbita maxima var. marina di Chioggia) is one of the most widely grown varieties of squash in Italy.
It is greenish grey coloured and has a flattened rounded shape with pronounced ribs. The flesh is yellowy orange, thick and firmly attached to the skin, which is rough, uneven and "warty".
Marina di Chioggia squash has a highly appreciated flavour, it is especially suitable for making soups and can also be used as an ingredient in other more complex dishes, such as gnocchi and risotto.