By: Amy Grant
If you love squash but want to diversify, try growing BlueHokkaido squash plants. What is a Blue Hokkaido squash? Only one of the mostprolific, multi-use wintersquash varieties available, plus, it’s beautiful. Keep reading for moreBlue Hokkaido info, including the growing and care of Blue Kuri (Hokkaido)squash.
Blue Hokkaido, also referred to as Blue Kuri squash, is anopen pollinated Japanese Kabocha type of squash that has a much longer shelflife than other types of Kabocha. Typical of Kabocha squash, Blue Hokkaidosquash (Curcurbita maxima) has aflattened globe shape with as its name suggests, a blue-grey color.
The golden flesh of Blue Kuri is sweet and can be used indessert recipes as well as in savory/sweet side dishes. It tends to be on thedry side; however, after being stored for a few months it will become moister.
Blue Hokkaido squash vines require plenty of room to growand can be expected to produce 3-8 squash per plant. The average weight isbetween 3-5 pounds (1-2 kg.), although they may grow and weigh up to 10 pounds(4.5 kg.).
The gorgeous blue/grey squash, or pumpkin as some refer toit, also looks beautiful as a centerpiece carved or uncarved, alone or incombination with other squash, pumpkinsand gourds.
Sow seed indoors from May to June or directly into thegarden in fertile, well-drained soil after all chance of frost has passed. Sowseeds to a depth of one inch (2.5 cm). Seeds will germinate in 5-10 days. Oncethe seedlings have two true sets of leaves, transplant them into a sunny areaof the garden in rows that are 3-6 feet (1-2 m.) apart.
The squash should be ready to harvest around 90 days fromplanting. Allow the squash to cure for a few days in the sun before storing.This squash will store for several months, even up to a year.
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Squash plants are notorious cross breeders. As a result, are countless varieties of squash. Aren't we all lucky!?
Most vegetable gardeners grow a few varieties of squash.
Listed below are the most popular varieties, along with a few really neat varieties.
Acorn - This is an excellent bush-type winter squash. Try it in containers on your patio or deck. Great for baking and steaming. Easy to grow. Matures in 85 days.
Blue Hubbard - This large, sweet tasting squash has a blue-green rind, and superior quality, dark orange flesh. Grandpa used to crack this hard shelled squash on the driveway or sidewalk. Use it in fall decorating. Matures: 95-110 days.
Butternut - One of the most popular squash varieties. Vining plant is a heavy producer. Fruit is 8 to 10 inches, with long, cylindrical necks, and a very small seed cavity. Rind is creamy tan, and the flesh is yellow-orange with a deliciously sweet and nutty flavor. Long keepers. Matures: 100 days.
Buttercup - A bush squash with sweet flavor, is good for small gardens. Delicious baked, steamed, or simmered. Matures in about 75 days.
Cushaw - This is an unusual, ornamental squash, with dark and light green stripes. It's also a great tasting edible. Produces 10-12 pound fruits with golden flesh. Use this as an ornamental in fall decorating. Matures 95-110 days.
Delicata - this squash variety is an excellent choice for long term storage. Rich, sweet, yellow-orange flesh, with a with a white, green-striped rind. Tastes best steamed or baked. Matures: 100 days.
Spaghetti Squash - After cooking, this interesting squash can be pulled out in strands similar in appearance to spaghetti. It's popular with kids. Matures: 80-95 days.
Turk's Turban - This highly festive squash (some call it a pumpkin, some call it a gourd) has vivid colors of orange, red, and white with dark green markings. It's great for fall decorating. Its edible, too! Use it in any squash recipe. Matures: 95-110 days.
Bush Scallop Patty Pan - There are white and yellow varieties. Scalloped, pie shaped fruit are 4-5 inches in diameter. The fine grained flesh is thick, tender, green-tinged with white. It's a prolific producer. Matures: 45-55 days.
Cocozelle - This is an Italian Zucchini with a bush habit. Excellent for the garden and containers. Flesh is firm and greenish-white. Use it for slicing, frying, and steaming. It is a good squash for freezing and canning.
Early Prolific Straightneck - As its name implies, this space-saving variety produces prolific yields. It can be steamed, stuffed, baked or used fresh from the garden in salads. Matures: 45 days.
Summer Crookneck - This squash variety is known for its great taste and ease in growing. It has a distinctive buttery flavor and is deep yellow in color, with a curved neck and plump bottom end. It is delicious fresh from the garden, fried, steamed, baked, or grilled. Matures: 48-55 days.
Zucchini - Widely popular, extremely prolific producer. With just a few plants, you'll have enough to feed family and friends. Best picked when 6 -8 inches long. Matures in 50-60 days.
Summer squash is better when it is small, as the squash loses flavor and becomes tough and flavorless as it grows larger. Once the rind of summer squash is so hard it can't be scratched with a fingernail, the squash is past its prime and is best discarded or added to the compost pile. Summer squash is at its best when small -- about 5 to 8 inches for zucchini and slightly smaller for yellow crookneck. Scalloped squash such as patty pan is tender when the squash is just beginning to turn a creamy white color and measures less than 4 inches in diameter. Check the plants often and harvest three to four times per week, as squash develops soon after the appearance of blooms. To harvest summer squash, use a knife or pruners to cut the squash from the plant, along with a short length of stem. Wear gloves, as the vines of some types of squash are slightly prickly.
Winter squash is also planted in spring but the time from planting to maturity is longer -- from 75 to 120 days, depending on the variety. Unlike summer squash, winter squash is harvested when the rinds are hard, the color is evenly dull and the fruit is completely mature. Winter squash includes a number of types, including butternut, acorn, Hubbard, turban, delicata and spaghetti squash. Most winter squash grows on vines, unlike summer squash, which grows on bushes.
How many types of squash can you name? Summer or winter, add one of these colorful varieties to your garden.
Nutty and sweet-tasting, ‘Little Dipper’ is a butternut winter squash that's small enough to use for individual servings. The lightbulb-shaped fruits grow to about 2 pounds each and store well for a long time.
These 5-inch ovals offer a creamy flesh that serves a nutty, caramelized flavor when grilled. Vines have fewer spines than traditional zucchini, so they’re not as prickly to weed and harvest. Expect an 8-week-long harvest window.
The zucchini is a summer squash which often grows to nearly a meter in length, but which is usually harvested at half that size or less. It is used as a vegetable for savory side dishes.
For fans of winter squash, Blue Hubbard is one of the standards. The tear drop-shape fruits typically weigh 15 to 40 pounds and keep well into winter. The flesh is golden and fine-grained (no strings). The sweet flavor enhances pies, baked goods and savory dishes like soup or chili.
This beautiful, dark-green squash was introduced to America from Japan in the late 1800s. Yokohama is revered for its buttery flavor and sweet fragrance.
Acorn squash starts out a dark green that turns bright orange as it matures. Each vine produces 4-5 plants and is small enough to be grown in deep containers. Sweet acorn squash is a favorite in savory baked dishes.