Gardening

Citron squash (Cucurbita ficifolia)

Cucurbites are fruits that are very widespread throughout the world and there are many varieties. There is pumpkin, watermelon, cucumbers and melons, all belonging to this family of creepers whose fruits are characterized by having abundant water, potassium, beta-carotene and micro vitamins.

Once winter is beginning to wind down, it’s time to plan planting for May, and citron squash looms as an excellent choice for those with garden space. Once cultivated, the delicious alcayota or angel hair squash can be enjoyed to make traditional preserves and preserves loaded with fiber and antioxidants.

Origin

The figleaf gourd popularly known as Citron pumpkin vine is a climbing plant that gives the characteristic fruit of summer with the traditional vermicelli is prepared. Like watermelons, melons, and cucumbers, citron squash belongs to the cucurbit line.

Although it came to Europe in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, it is known that it comes from America. This crop occurs especially in the Andean mountains, from there it spread throughout America and is currently grown on almost all continents.

Citron squash is one of the least cultivated of the cucurbit species and although it is quite well known today, it was once even more precious. Archaeological discoveries have been made that indicate its consumption and commercialization especially in the Peruvian region.

Among melon and cucumber, citron squash is the one that is grown in less quantity, but in more places. That is, it is the most universal of the family of cucurbites. The extension it covers is very varied, since it goes from Chile and Argentina to the United States. India, the Philippines and Japan are heavy producers.

Citron squash characteristics

Like all cucurbits, citron squash is a thick-rooted, perennial, and hardy climbing, creeping plant.

The leaves have petioles of five to 25 centimeters, although some have white pigment spots and the flowers are axillary and pentameric. It has male and female flowers, the latter with robust pendulums up to two inches long. The ovary is shaped like an ellipse and the flowers of the plant are usually yellow.

The citron squash fruit is large and green in color with light and dark tones, it also has white, green and cream spots. Inside is the white pulp with a sweet flavor rich in fiber.

The seeds measure 12 to 15 millimeters, these being of dark brown or black ovoid colors, each fruit has between 300 and 500 units.

Cultivation and care

To sow citron squash, the climate must be considered very specifically. Because it comes from hot areas and although it resists the cold very well, the ideal is to grow them where there is plenty of sun. They should be watered frequently since their fruit is composed mostly of water.

For those who live in cold and temperate areas, the ideal time to sow is at the beginning of May, never below 12 degrees, otherwise resort to a greenhouse. In warm places the ideal is to sow it outdoors, especially at the end of May and when there is no risk of freezing temperatures.

As this plant needs a lot of space, it should be about two meters between plants.

Once the seedlings are born from the seedbed, you must choose the most beautiful one to replant in the chosen field. These will grow very large, so regular pruning should be done.

The fruit will be ready in six months for September and October and to know that it is ripe it must be pressed with the nail, which must easily penetrate the skin.

Plagues and diseases

Although pests do not usually attack these types of crops, they must take basic care.

The most common fungi that can attack citron squash are mildew and powdery mildew. It also has risks of attacks from mites, caterpillars, aphids and spider mites, but all can be avoided with extracts of garlic and horsetail.

It is recommended to sow some plants associated with squash to avoid pests and enrich the soil such as tomatoes, cabbage, corn, chard and lettuce.

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