September 18, 2010

Grow your own Uchiki Kuri Squash 2010

Uchiki SeedsPLANT: ‘Uchiki Kuri’ Squash (Red Kuri)

A Japanese Hubbard-type squash that has very attractive orange-red skin. The yellow and creamy flesh is firm, very sweet and nutty.  A very productive variety producing fruits of around 1.5kg (2-3 lbs) about 18x18cm in size that store well into winter.


I thought this variety of squash looked really sweet and I’ve read on some other blogs that it’s quite easy to grow. When I saw the blue seeds in the packet I was a bit concerned, but I’ve read that these seeds have been specially treated and coated with a fungicide to prevent wilting and other fungal problems during germination. So fingers crossed I’ll have more luck with these than last year’s butternuts.

 

Sow under cover: March - May 1st Mar
Germination time: 7-10 days 10th Mar
Plant out: June - July  
Harvest: October - November 28th Aug and 11th Sept
Time from seed to plate: 100 days  

 

SOW:

  • Sow seeds on their side to prevent rotting in 8cm pots full of seed compost at a depth of 2.5cm. Cover the pots and keep them at a temperature of 15-18°C.

GROW:

  • Plant out when plants have grown 4 leaves, spacing them at least 1 metre apart as they will grow long trailing sideshoots.

CARE:

  • Water regularly and feed with a general liquid fertiliser.
  • When green fruits begin to swell remove some of the leaves to expose them to the sun.
  • You can tie the sideshoots to canes to keep them neat and they can be trained up over fences, trellises or wigwams.
  • You may need to pollinate by hand if the insects aren’t doing their job properly!

HARVEST:

  • Leave to ripen for as long as possible. Cut each fruit from the plant with the stalk still intact.

 

I’ve sowed my seeds in small pots filled with seed compost, then I put them inside a clear plastic bag to maintain moisture.

I’ll be growing my squash in 14 litre Tubtrugs which measure 33cm wide and 23cm tall.

Useful websites:
http://stores.shop.ebay.co.uk/Premier-Seeds-Direct/Squash-and-Pumpkin-Instructions.html_
March 13th:
13-03 Uchiki Kuri SquashUnfortunately I haven’t been at home all week so I missed my squash sprouting, but Steve told me my squash had sprouted sometime in the middle of the week. The two on the right of the photo are the Uchiki Kuri and they have really leaned over towards the light as I haven’t been around to turn the pots. Hopefully they’ll straighten up a bit! They’re quite a bit taller than the butternut squash already, so it will be interesting to compare the growth rate between these two varieties of squash.
March 21st:
21-03 Uchiki Kuri squash The Uchiki squash did straighten themselves out as I’ve been turning them quite regularly. Like the butternuts they’re starting to develop their second set of leaves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 6TH:

06-04 Uchiki SquashThe seedlings look like they’re ready to plant out as they’ve got 4 leaves. But it’s still cold outside, so I think I’ll leave them inside for a bit longer. I’ve had to use a bamboo skewer to support the one on the right as it was falling over. I think this was also due to a lack of water as it did manage to stand up straight after I gave them a little drink.

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 15TH:

15-04 Uchiki Squash

The Uchiki Kuri seeds are growing very rapidly. The bigger one is 24cm tall x 24cm wide (how far the leaves stretch out) and the smaller one is 16cm x 16cm. They’re much bigger than the butternut seedlings and they don’t stand up without the support of the bamboo skewers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 27TH:

27-04 UK Squash

I know I’m a bit early, but I decided to plant my Uchiki Kuri squash out in the raised bed today as they’re getting a bit too big for their pots. One is 30cm tall and the other is 20cm. I read a great guide on Seed to Plate about growing this type of squash and it said you can grow them up canes. I’ve made a very rough teepee out of 4 canes and planted the 2 squash plants next to them, spaced about 30cm apart and I mounded up the soil. The construction of the teepee is a little bit crude at the moment as I might add some more canes, depending on how the squash grow. I’ll add some string around the canes to give the tendrils something to grab onto later. I’ve covered the empty space in the bed with some chicken wire to deter anything digging up the soil. I’ll cover the squash with a fleece during the night for protection.

 

3rd July:

03-07 Squash

Well I didn’t realise that I hadn’t posted any updates on my squash since April! That is pretty bad!

 

As you can see from the photo, it has grown rather a lot in just over a month. This sprawling mass of leaves is what I returned to after a week’s holiday! I cut back a lot of the leaves so that the flowers/fruit were more exposed for pollination and exposure to the sun. The trailing leaves on the ground are an easy way for slugs/snails to get into the raised bed, which is what has been eating my mange tout pea plants!

 

04-07 squash

Here’s a photo after I’ve got busy with the secateurs – quite a difference!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

03-07 Squash fruit

Here’s one of the squash that’s growing with the flower still attached. I’ve learned from last year not to get too excited at this early stage because the fruit can easily be lost due to them not being pollinated properly. So I will just have to keep my fingers crossed that this year will be better.

 

 

 

6th July:

09-07 dying squash

My worst fears have come true – brown dead squash! I’m only guessing it was due to poor pollination because maybe the bees couldn’t get to the flowers underneath all those leaves before I cut them. So I quickly hand pollinated the other squash that have started to grow. I’ll be so gutted if I don’t get any squash this year!

 

 

 

 

13th July:

The squash that I hand pollinated are so far doing very well and are growing bigger! I’m not completely convinced this was the reason the others turned brown and died, as I think that I might have been overwatering my squash. Last week when it was incredibly hot, I was watering everyday, even though the soil didn’t look dry. I’d taken the advice that “squash are thirsty plants” too seriously and completely overdid it by giving them a drink when they didn’t need it. Luckily Steve’s Mum suggested I give them a break, so I haven’t watered them at all over the last few days. It rained a bit today, but I don’t think it will have done them any harm, in fact a bit of rainwater is good for plants.

 

I did a bit of research online today and some other people agree that overwatering can kill off the fruit. So I will be more careful in future and only water every few days, even when the weather is really hot.

 

31st July:

31-07 UK Squash

Well the squash that I hand pollinated died. So I’m still not sure if it was bad pollination or the watering that killed it.

 

So I started giving the plants a feed of Miracle Gro and only watered every few days. Then I noticed one of the tentacles had attached itself to the trellis on the wall and this squash had started growing. I’m pretty excited as it’s nearly the size of my fist now! I’ve got a couple more which are slightly smaller than this one, so I’m hoping that the Miracle Gro is what has made the difference and that they don’t die on me!

 

15th August:

15 Aug UK squash

I switched from using Miracle Gro to tomato feed once a week and I now have two squashes that are doing extremely well. The one I photographed on 31st July has grown much bigger and has changed to a very pleasing orange colour. I am looking forward to when they change to a red colour, as this will be a good indication that they are ready for harvesting.

 

 

I have another one which is even bigger than this one, hiding underneath a lot of leaves (so it’s a bit difficult to photograph). This contradicts my previous belief that squash need a lot of direct sunlight to grow. I am amazed at how the stems can manage to hold the heavy weight of the squash.

 

It has rained an awful lot over the last few days, which is great for the garden, but I’m hoping we will get enough sunshine for my two squash to finish ripening as I don’t have any others to look forward to!

 

28th August:

28-08 Red Squash

This is the larger of my 2 surviving squash. But I got a bit snipper-happy with my secateurs and whilst I was pruning a lot of the dead leaves/vines, I managed to cut this off the plant by accident! It looks quite ripe, but I think it needs to spend some more time in the sun to harden the skin. The problem is it’s been raining non-stop for the past week, so it’s not going to get much sun. I’ve left a long stalk on it and rested it on some wire to stop it sitting in the wet soil. I’m not sure if it will be OK left outside overnight – or should I bring it indoors? My poor squash needs an owner who knows what it’s doing!

 

11th September:

11-09 UK Squash

Well the squash I accidentally cut from the plant has survived being left outdoors for 2 weeks. It has been raining quite heavily, but it’s not been too cold at night and we have had some warm sunny days.

 

So I decided to cut the other squash as I wanted the space in the raised bed to put one of my Purple Sprouting Broccoli plants in its place, as it’s getting a bit big for its pot/trug.

 

As you can see there’s quite a difference in size between my 2 squashes! I’m really looking forward to tasting them as I’ve never eaten this variety of squash before.

 

 

 

 

18th September:

18-09 UK Squash

Today I cooked the large squash. Just out of interest I weighed them both before I started preparing it. The large one was 1.1kg and the smaller one was 863g.

 

When I cut it open, it looked like a squash should with a nice uniform colour and the seeds inside fully developed, so I assumed it was properly ripe. I prepared it as I do butternut squash, by scooping out the seeds and peeling it. Then I roasted half with sage and rosemary picked from the garden, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. The other half I simmered in stock for my risotto as per this recipe I’ve made before. I wasn’t too keen on the roasted squash at first as the texture was a bit like undercooked potato (but Steve said it was OK) and the flavour was quite nutty which is what this variety of squash should taste like. This time I mixed the roasted squash with some fried bacon, ham, mushrooms and asparagus (as I’d predicted that Steve would say “Where’s the meat?”).

 

The puree for the risotto was good though. As I’ve never eaten a Uchiki Kuri squash before I can’t say if mine had the correct texture or flavour! Maybe I will find one in a supermarket to compare it with, as Autumn approaches and they start stocking more pumpkins/squashes for Halloween!

 

I don’t think I’ll be growing any squashes next year as they’re too much effort and space for such little return.

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