Squash - el zapallo

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Squash - el zapallo, la auyama

Auyama squash is a winter squash with a green shell and bright orange flesh inside.

Scientific name: Cucurbita maxima

Discription: Zapallo in Panama Spanish indicates any squash. The most common kinds are zucchini and auyama (a type of winter squash). Winter Squash are a large vining crop, that produces gourds with orange flesh and large seeds that can be toasted.

How to sow: Plant squah in full sun in loose, well drained soil. Direct sow into mounds. 3-5 seeds per mound. 10 feet between mounds. Squash will not germinate in cool soil. Plant 1 inch deep.

Days to germination: 10-14

Days to fruit: 90-110

Care: Water each hill regularly, take care not to get the leaves wet. This could promote fungus. Plants can be grown on a fence or trellis.

Harvest: Squash are ready to harvest when you can not dent the skin with your thumb nail and they sound hollow when thumped. Twist the gourd in a circle or cut from the vine. Do not pull. Pulling can damage the vine. Store the gourds in a cool dry place for months.

Seed Saving: When the fruit is ripe for eating, the seeds are ripe too. Remove the seeds from the center of the squash and wash off the stringy pulp around them. Let the seeds dry for several days on a screen or paper in a warm dry place. Plant the seeds immediately or save them in a paper bag for up to three months unrefridgerated. They can be saved longer with refridgeration.

Health: Rich in vitamin A (beta carotene), potasium, fiber, manganese and vitamin C.

File:Squash Blossoms.JPG
The female flower is on the left and the male on the right. Notice the bulb under the flower, that is what will grow into the squash.
Tips: Many people get frustrated that their vines are flowering, but not producing squash. This is usually because the vines start by flowering male blossoms, then start flowering male and female. You can tell which flowers are female because they have a small lump under the flower that will become the squash. See photo at right.