What are Gem Squash?
Gem Squash Cucurbita pepo var. pepo is similar to rolent squash and courgettes ronde.
They are a small, round squash that are approximately the size of a large apple. The skin is smooth, hard and dark-green. When left on the vines for some time they will start to turn orange. The insides are a yellow-orange flesh, that is sweet and firm.
They originate from Central America and are categorised as 'summer squash' when grown in New Zealand, South Africa and the UK, however in America they are classed as a 'winter squash'.
Gem Squash have sweet, firm flesh
How to grow a Gem Squash in the UK
When growing any type of squash you need to consider your location and spacing carefully. With Gem Squash you will need a large space for them to grow as they send out long vines that will take over vegetable patches. It is always an idea to consider growing them on an 'A-frame' trellis (pictured below) as this will keep them off other plants as well as keeping the fruits off the ground, preventing them from the danger of damage.
Grow your Gem Squash on an 'A Frame' Trellis for best results
As they are not frost tolerant they require temperatures between 18-27°C, making the best time for growing them between April and November.
Choose the sunniest spot you can. They need a rich, well-draining soil and benefit from adding compost to the soil before you sow the seeds. Sow your seeds in rows, around 2 cm deep and 1 meter apart, allowing plenty of space for growth. When watering you need to keep the soil moist, but avoid water-logging as this will cause the seeds to rot.
When potting on it's a good idea to add compost from your compost heap to the bottom of your dug holes, before backfilling with soil to help as a slow-release fertiliser.
If you choose not to grow you squashes on a trellis, you will want to use a bed of straw to lift your fruit, preventing them rotting on the ground if it gets damp.
Gem squashes are grown similarly to cucumber meaning they prefer to have an organic liquid feed that is high in potassium. Comfrey liquid fertiliser would be a great feed for gem squash as it is high in potassium and organic!
How to make Comfrey Liquid Feed:
When it comes to harvesting your squash, look for them to be around the size of a tennis ball. The skins may still be soft but leaving them longer can be a struggle as our colder climates cause powdery mildew. We recommend harvesting them when young.
Have a go at growing your own and be sure to let us know how it goes!
Where to Buy Squashes
The easiest way to grow Gem Squashes and other members of the Cucurbita genus is from plug plants rather than seeds. At the right time of year, you can buy squash plug plants from the Candide Marketplace and support small businesses and independent sellers.