Flavour and more with Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash, Cucurbita pepo, is a delicious novelty in the summer veg patch – once boiled or baked the flesh scoops out into delightful spaghetti-like strands.
Spaghetti squash is easy to grow, with each plant producing around 5 plump fruit up to 1.8kg each. Simply sow direct several seeds approximately 20mm deep once the frosty weather has passed, in a well-drained soil rich in organic matter. Thin back to the two strongest seedlings and allow 70cm between plantings. Plants can be grown vertically on a support, which is perfect for blocking out hot afternoon sunlight from west-facing windows; they are also just as at home creeping along the ground as a weed-suppressing groundcover.
Water and fertilise your spaghetti squash reliably to ensure a sizeable harvest, preferably using organic fertilisers which are beneficial to soil health. Fruit is ready to pick at around 15 weeks when it takes on a yellow hue. They can be stored in a cool dry place for 4-6 weeks.
If you would like to save seed from this sometimes hard to find plant, there needs to be no related species within a 400m radius (such as zucchini). Otherwise, hand pollination and caging is required – a fun task which is easier to carry out than you might expect. Check out The Seed Savers’ Handbook (1993) by Michel & Jude Fanton.
Spaghetti squash is simple to prepare for baking – cut in half lengthways with a sharp and sturdy knife, scoop out the seeds and season with salt pepper and olive oil. Bake in a moderate fan-forced oven for 40 to 50 minutes. To work its low-carb spaghetti magic, scrape the flesh out with a fork. Spaghetti squash can be used as a health-conscious pasta substitute, as a base for quiche, or a side dish in its own right.