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Author Topic: Harvesting little gem squash  (Read 5845 times)

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jb

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  • Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  • Posts: 115
Harvesting little gem squash
« on: August 21, 2008, 23:07 »
Hi folks,
Could anyone help me out with when I should be harvesting little gem squashes. I have a couple of plants growing one of which is rampant and producing loads of female flowers. I already have 2 fruit that are about cricket ball sized and 4 more swelling rapidly. Should I be harvesting regularly like courgettes or summer squash or will the fruit be best left on the plant as long as possible like winter squashes? Also does anyone know if harvesting affects the production of later fruit and how long the fruit can be stored for?
Many thanks
Jon


Swing Swang

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  • Location: Hampshire, UK
  • Posts: 1295
Harvesting little gem squash
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2008, 23:06 »
Regarding havesting - I like them quite mature, when the skin is very hard and doesn't dent when you really push your thumbnail into it, the flesh by then has started to pick up a yellowish tinge, and the flavour and texture is a slightly 'mealy'. My spouse likes them younger, once they've just stopped growing, but whilst the skin is still soft, and the flesh is more of a courgette-green. Each to his own I suppose, although 'young' gems won't keep for long once the season ends.

I don't find that taking young and old squash from the same plant a problem.

I let the plants have as much space as I can (although next year I'm going to try and grow them up pyramids maintain yield in a more confined area, but this might not be too successful because the plants then won't be able to 'root' along their length and so will take up less nutrients). I just hack them back once they start to take over inappropriate parts of the garden. I've got half a dozen plants in about 20 square m. I've never bothered with restricting the number of squash during the growing season.

They stay in the ground until the first frosts, but by then they're usually suffering from powdery mildew (but still cropping). I expect to get about 20 squash from each plant. They are also great at keeping down the weeds!

Because the variety that I was sent seems to take root along its length I think of each of my gem squash plants as being like a 'colony', so provided it's well fed mine are quite happy to produce lots of quality fruit. These 'extra' roots are one of the reasons that I like to provide a decent mulch for them to get stuck in to.

I do plant them in a lot of compost - say 100l per plant, mulch once they become established (at least 10cm of well rotted straw/stable manure) and, and give them a foliar feed every couple of weeks once they start flowering - either tomato or seaweed.

I provide them with plenty of water at ground level (leaky hose), although thais hasn't been needed this year.

Since starting to grow them 4 years ago I have never had problems with slugs, birds, or any other bug. If all plants were as easy.

What I've not been able to do is grow a decent butternut...grrrr

SS

jb

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  • Location: Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  • Posts: 115
Harvesting little gem squash
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2008, 23:32 »
Thanks for the advice, I think I'll try both young and ripened fruit to see what we like best (although at a guess I'll probably prefer one and my partner the other, just like you). My one rampant plant is probably covering about 2 by 3 metres which it is sharing with tomatoes, aubergines and a couple of celeriac. By using small sticks I train the vines to grow between the other plants where they are doing a good job of limiting the growth of the numerous weeds that pop up in the bed.
This is my first year having a serious go at growing my own and I've got to admit that the little gems are one of the two most impressive growers I've tried (together with yellow crookneck which are feeding most of our relatives as well as us). If we like the taste they will be a definite grow-again.
Jon



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