Uchiki Kuri Squash
This Japanese heirloom’s 3-lb. fruits are deep red-orange inside and out. Flesh is creamy and sweet with a hint of chestnut, and the skin is delicate enough to eat too or include in pureed soups, no need to peel. Plants are vigorous, and the squashes store well.
Culture: Direct sow when soil has warmed in late spring, or start 4 weeks earlier indoors and carefully transplant (roots don’t like jostling). Full sun, good soil, average water. The plant is a robust vine that wants to spread, so give it plenty of room. As with most vining squash, plants will send out auxiliary roots at leaf nodes along the vine to take up more moisture and nutrients. Harvest when big and blue, or leave until frost ends growth. Cure squash for a few weeks outdoors before cooking or storing.
Saving Seed: If Red Kuri is the only Cucurbita maxima you or your near neighbors grow, you can save seed without resorting to hand pollination. Isolation distance from other C. maximas should be ½ mile with barriers like trees or buildings, and you’ll need to save seed from a minimum of 10-20 plants. Wait at least a month after harvest before opening squash for seed. Wash the seed and spread on a screen to dry. It’s ready for storage when you can shatter the seed with a hammer blow.