Cucuzza Squash Plants: Tips for Growing Italian Cucuzza Squash

One of Sicily’s favourite pumpkins, the cucuzza, which means «super long pumpkin», is gaining popularity in North America. Never heard of cucuzza plants? Read on to find out what a cucuzza pumpkin is and for more information on growing Italian cucuzza.

What is the Cucuzza Pumpkin?

The cucuzza is a summer squash of the botanical family Lagenaria, which includes many other varieties. This edible pumpkin is related to the gourd, also known as the water pumpkin or bird’s nest pumpkin. A vigorous pumpkin, the fruit comes from vines that can grow two feet a day. The fruit is a straight, green pumpkin, sometimes slightly curved. The skin is dark green and moderately hard. The fruit itself can grow up to 10 cm per day and will be 18 cm to 2 feet long.

The pumpkin is usually peeled and the seeds are removed from the larger fruit. Pumpkin can be cooked like any other summer pumpkin – grilled, stewed, fried, stuffed or roasted. Intrigued? I bet you’re wondering how to grow squash now.

How to grow cucuzza pumpkin

Cucuzza squash plants are easy to grow. The simplest method is to grow them on trellises, which will support the fruit, contain the creeping vines and make harvesting easier.

Grow this tender, warm-season vegetable in well-drained soil exposed to sunlight. Clean the soil with 2 cm of compost or rotten manure.

Plant 2-3 seeds 2-3 feet apart along a row after any danger of frost has passed in your area. Push the seeds one inch into the soil. You can also plant in the hills. If you use hills, plant 5-6 seeds, with each hill 1.5 m apart. When the seedlings are one or two inches high, thin out 2 or 3 of the healthiest plants.

Give the pumpkin one inch of water per week depending on the weather conditions. Like all pumpkins, cucumbers are prone to fungal diseases, so water in the morning at the base of the plants.

If you have not enriched the soil with compost, you will have to feed the plants. Once the plants have bloomed, feed ¼ at a rate of 10-10-10 pounds for every meter of row, 3-4 weeks after flowering.

Keep the area around the cucuzza free of grass. Cover the area around the plants with a light layer of mulch, such as straw or wood shavings, to help retain water, delay weed growth and keep the roots fresh.

Harvest of Cucuzza pumpkin

Time is all that matters when you’re harvesting the cucumber pumpkin. It’s like zucchini. One day the fruit is a few centimetres long and two days later it’s two feet long. And that’s if you’ve ever seen the fruit.

With its large shade leaves and green fruit, courgette, like zucchini, tends to hide the fruit of its labour. So look carefully and observe every day. The larger they are, the more difficult they are to handle, so the ideal size is 8 to 10 cm long. In addition, younger and smaller fruits have softer seeds that can be left, cooked and eaten.

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