Spring is the time to plant members of the Cucurbit family. These are the melons, the squashes and the gourds, and make up the largest cultivated vegetable family that we grow. We will be planting ours very soon, so I will show you all how to make a start in the coming week. For now, let’s meet them.

🌿 These plants have separate male and female yellow flowers.
🌿 They mostly grow on climbing or sprawling vines, so they need plenty of room and sun.
🌿 Cucurbits are annual plants, so they grow, bloom and fruit in one season, then die.
🌿They like to grow from seed in the one spot better than from moved  seedlings, but will cope either way.

These vegies are in the Cucurbitaceae family.  They are versitile in the kitchen and you can grow cucumbers and melons that are eaten raw right away or pickled for later, to zucchini and pumpkin that is gorgeous roasted, steamed, or made into warming soup .  Pick one you like and learn about growing them from there. There is a cucurbit to suit every climate.

🍈Top Tip 1: Cucurbits love plenty of water, and rich soil

Open a cucumber, a melon or a pumpkin and it makes sense that they need plenty of water to thrive. That doesn’t mean we can’t grow them if water is tight, but rather to use some savvy tricks to make the most of every drop.
In our stories about cucurbits, we explore deep watering, mulching, and particularly trenching for strong cell walls to make plants resilient in tough times. We will learn about ‘Free-draining’ soil and ‘moisture retention’, terms that are used often in gardening but rarely explained.

In this picture we see this weeks fresh trenching being buried, and trenching from last week sprouting volunteers from an old cucumber.

🍈 Top Tip 2: Cucurbits love good air flow.

vertical staking of zucchini

Good air flow around your gourds and melons (not a metaphor 😆) forms great fruit, keeps mildew at bay, and gets the most out of your cucurbit plants.

There are various techniques we use to do that, from growing cucumbers on nets and trellis, pumpkins well spaced, zucchinis vertically and other tips n tricks.

The Cucurbitacae family that are cultivated by humans are mostly herbacious climbers, pentagular in stem with tendrils lateral to axils and generally palmately lobed leaves. Some genera are dioecious with those monoecious presenting male flowers earlier than female, and on proximal branches and shoots. For strong fruit development, cucurbits benefit from a low nitrogen high potassium, well drained soil profile. 

Finally, these vegies rely on great pollination by bees n bugs visiting. For that, we plant Flowers for Pollinators righ there next to them in the bed – come for the fowers, stay for the cucurbits. 🌼🥒

Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿