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.

September 11, 2010

Grow your own Sprouting Broccoli 2010

Sprouting broccoli seedsPLANT: ‘Purple Sprouting Early’ Broccoli

An extremely easy to grow hardy winter vegetable which crops when little else is available in the garden.  Sturdy 12-18in plants produce a heavy crop of tasty purple heads and young leaves (which turn green when cooked) during late winter/early Spring.  These should crop through to mid April, freeing the ground for spring crops.


I love “normal” broccoli (calabrese) but I thought I’d try sprouting broccoli as I like the idea of being able to cut off just what I need, rather than cutting off a whole head.

 

Useful websites:

http://www.garden-centre.org/Broccoli.htm

http://www.vegetable-garden-guide.com/growing-broccoli.html

 

Sow under cover: March - May 1st Mar
Sow direct: April - May  
Germination time: 7-10 days 7th Mar
Plant out: June - July 26th May
Harvest: January - April  
Time from seed to plate: 40 weeks  


SOW:

  • Sow 2cm deep.
  • Thin out seedlings when 2.5cm tall to about 7.5cm apart in the rows.

GROW:

  • When the first two true leaves have formed and the plants are 7cm tall, transplant them into 7.5cm pots filled with potting compost and plant them into these pots a little deeper to just below the two leaves and water in well.
  • Transplant seedlings when they are 10 - 15cm tall, leaving 45cm between rows and 45cm between plants. The day before planting in their permanent position, water the soil where they will be planted. Transplant them firmly, 2.5cm deeper than when they were in their pots.

CARE:

  • Protect from birds and other pests.
  • Water regularly especially in dry conditions.
  • From time to time feed the growing Broccoli with a liquid fertiliser.

HARVEST:

  • Cut the main head early and the plants will continue to produce numerous small side heads through to late spring.  Continuous steady harvesting is essential to maximise the harvest.


I’ve sowed 4 seeds indoors in my windowsill propagator, as I only expected to be able to fit 1 plant in my raised bed along with the peas, beans, tomatoes and spinach. But I might be able to plant more as I won’t have to plant out the sprouting broccoli until June/July, when hopefully some of the other vegetables will have finished cropping and been harvested.
March 7th:
07-03 Broccoli sprouted The sprouting broccoli seeds were the next to germinate after the mange tout peas. They’re already 2.5cm tall and I need to prick them out into 7cm pots when they’re about 5cm tall, so I haven’t got long to wait. I will need to plant them into these pots a little deeper - to just below the two leaves and water in well.
Apparently if they get too warm then they will produce tall, weak seedlings that will not develop to there full potential, so they will need to be kept in a cool light position. This is a bit of a problem as I need to keep the propagator warm if my chilli seeds are to germinate!
March 13th:

13-03 Broccoli My sprouting broccoli seedlings are looking very ropey indeed! As I haven’t been at home I haven’t been able to turn the propagator around and they’ve been leaning towards the light. They’re about the right height for pricking out into bigger individual pots but I ran out of them as I had to repot the peas and beans. Hopefully I can get some more before they outgrow the propagator.




 


March 21st:
21-03 sprouting broccoli I didn’t manage to get any more pots, so the sprouting broccoli are still in the propagator and they’re now 8cm tall. They’re looking slightly perkier than before and they’re developing more leaves, but I really do need to thin them out and get them into individual pots!

 

 

 


APRIL 6TH:

06-04 broccoli 2

I think I was a bit late in transplanting the broccoli seedlings as they’ve had their set of true leaves for quite a while now. But I didn’t have anymore 7.5cm pots and it’s been miserable outside, so I had to put off the move. But yesterday I bought more pots and the weather was dry, if a bit windy!

 

The photo shows them still in the propagator and how they need support. They’re now 10cm tall and apparently they should be planted in their final positions at this height. But I’m going to leave them in their individual pots until they’re a bit bigger.

 

I planted them in their pots to just below the seed leaves. This means that they’re not so weak and spindly and will hopefully grow into a stronger plant.

 

 

APRIL 15TH:

15-04 Broccoli

Well I don’t think the broccoli seedlings have made much progress in the last 9 days. They’re 5cm tall but the leaves don’t look any bigger to me. But since they’re not meant to be planted outside until June/July I’m not too worried about their progress. I still need to decide if they’re going to be planted in the raised bed or in separate large pots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

APRIL 26TH:

26-04 Sprouting broccoli

Both my seedlings are dying! I’m not sure what I’ve done wrong, it’s possible I over-watered them or it’s too hot for them on the windowsill above the radiator.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

26-04 New Sprouting Broccoli Luckily Steve’s sister bought some seedlings from the market and she had too many so she gave me 3. They’re absolutely huge (18cm) compared to my pathetic specimens (6cm) so I can really see how far behind my seedlings were in terms of growth. I did have a better idea of how big the seedlings should be before planting out after watching episode 3 of the BBC programme The Edible Garden. When Alys Fowler planted out her seedlings they were much bigger than the ones Steve’s sister has given me. But fingers crossed they should be that size by June/July if I don’t manage to kill them first!

May 26th:

26-5 Broccoli

A few days after my last post I re-potted the sprouting broccoli plants into bigger pots. These aren’t their final pots as I believe they need quite a bit of space to grow, so I’ll probably be re-potting them a couple of times over the next couple of months before planting them in the raised bed once everything else has been harvested.

 

Anyway, they seemed to really appreciate the re-potting as they’ve grown quite a bit. Steve’s sister said her seedlings haven’t grown much at all because she’s kept them in the same pots as when she bought them and she was amazed at how big mine were! She’s put off re-potting hers because she wants to put them straight into large pots and she doesn’t want the hassle of re-potting in stages. But I think it’s worth the effort as these plants seem to dry out really quickly and definitely need more space to grow successfully.

 

[I’m sorry to say that the seedlings I grew from seed have pretty much died! I’m not sure what went wrong, but I’m just glad that I was given some healthy plants so I didn’t miss out on growing this vegetable!]

 

19th June:

19-06 PSB

All my PSB plants are doing really well and are growing big and strong. I’ve re-potted two of the biggest ones again today as they were drying out so quickly in their plastic pots. I put one in a Tub Trug and another in a terracotta pot. I’ve also tied them to wooden canes for support.

 

I’m delighted to say that one of them has produced this beautiful purple sprout already! Only another 7-10 months to wait before I get to eat any!

 

 

4th July:

04-07 PSB stems

I wasn’t really sure how the sprouting broccoli would grow on the plant. I’d suspected that the spears would shoot out from the middle of the plant and I was right. I’m a bit concerned that they’re growing like this already, as I thought they weren’t ready to harvest until after January. So I’m not really sure what to do!

 

The seeds I’d bought were an early variety, but Steve’s sister gave me these seedlings so I’m not sure what variety they are. More research will have to be done!

 

They’re fast outgrowing their pots, so another transplant will have to be done. Hopefully I will have some clear space in the raised bed after everything else has been harvested.

 

 

 

 

 

6th July:

06-07 PSB flower

This plant has started to flower! From what I’ve read I’m pretty sure this is not a good thing, as it means the spears are not so good for eating. So I cut them off and I left them on the kitchen counter to eat later, just to see what they were like. But when I got home I found out Steve’s Mum had fed them to the tortoise! Ah well, hopefully it enjoyed them! I’ve got more spears growing, but they’re very thin.

 

 

Steve’s sister said she doesn’t know the variety of this PSB, the label just said to harvest in the Spring. So I’m very confused!

 

11th July:

11-07 PSB caterpillar eggs

This is the first time I’ve grown anything from the brassica family, so the whole fight against caterpillars is a new concept.

 

I’ve seen plenty of the white cabbage butterflies fluttering around and they’ve been laying their eggs all over my PSB. They lay their eggs underneath the leaves, so it takes some time to turn over all the leaves to find them. Plus the eggs are absolutely tiny (shown against my thumbnail), so they’re easy to miss. They fall off the leaves very easily though, so I just run a tissue over the whole leaf to get rid of them.

 

11-07 PSB caterpillar

The caterpillars are also very small so they’re hard to spot. This one (also shown against my thumbnail) is actually one of the bigger ones I found. Their colour is so close to that of the leaves that they are very well camouflaged. Wiping the tissue over the leaves squishes them quite effectively though!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11th September:

11-09 PSB caterpillars

The neglect of my Purple Sprouting Broccoli on my blog is unfortunately indicative of the neglect they have received in the garden. I haven’t been on caterpillar patrol for a couple of months and I haven’t even looked at my PSB, so today I was quite shocked to see how badly eaten they had become. All the leaves are basically torn to shreds and when I spotted 10 (yes, 10!!) caterpillars hanging off of one completely decimated leaf, I knew that I had to take swift action! I must have spent about 15 minutes checking every leaf and swishing loads of caterpillars, all at different growing stages of their life. Hopefully it’s not too late for the plants to recover and continue growing over winter. I will have to make more effort more regularly to kill these bloody caterpillars!

 

11-09 PSB

Despite my lame efforts, the plants are growing quite tall and I’m pretty amazed actually at how big they are. This one doesn’t have any canes for support at the moment and it’s doing a grand job of staying upright all by itself. I’m sure I will need to add some canes soon though as it’s getting more windy outside as Autumn/Winter approaches.

 

I’ve moved another plant into the raised bed as it looked like it was outgrowing its pot/trug. I added some water crystals/fertiliser pellets to give it a bit of a boost…

 

 

 

 

 

11-09 PSB leaves

… because some of the lower leaves are turning purple. I have no idea if this is normal or a nutrient deficiency, because some plants do change colour when the seasons change. For example the leaves on my blueberry bushes change from green to all shades of red and brown in the Autumn. I’ll have to do a bit more research on why the leaves on Purple Sprouting Broccoli turn purple, which isn’t an easy search on Google, as you just get pages on Purple Sprouting Broccoli!

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