Growing Tips: Zuccurì

Today we will discuss growing this dry kabocha which has a cake-like texture and sweet taste that can change the way the world defines a vegetable! Once cooked, even the skin can be eaten. Zuccurì vines can also grow up to 15' in length, so make sure to give your plants plenty of distance from any other crops. 

Germination 

The seeds can be direct-seeded into the soil, one-quarter to one-half inch deep, spaced every eight inches. 

Once the seedling has established its first true leaves, it is important to thin out the extra seeds and leave 18 inches between plants and 40 inches between rows to ensure there is plenty of room for growth. It is important not to direct seed Zuccurì until the daytime temperatures reach 72 degrees. Cold weather can negatively affect the seed’s germination. 

Transplanting

Transplanting Zuccurì is also an option and this will allow you to start your seedlings in warmer controlled temperatures earlier in the season. However, it is very important not to let the seedlings overgrow in their tray cells because they will become root-bound and likely won’t establish properly when transplanted into soil beds later.. 

When transplanting the plant, leave at least 18 inches in between plants and 40 inches in between rows

When filling your seedling trays with soil it is important to remember two things; 

  1. Make sure each tray cell is completely filled with soil from top to bottom. If a cell contains gaps without soil, this can create air pockets at the bottom causing the plant to dry out quickly, and could damage the seedling’s root structure. 
  2. Try to avoid packing the tray cells too tightly. Though the cells should be completely and evenly full, soil that is over compacted will make it difficult to remove the seedling for transplanting as you don’t want to snap the stem or tear roots. Not compressing or pushing hard on the soil after filling should help.

Try filling each cell from top to bottom, then giving the whole tray a careful shake from side to side to get air pockets out, then pour a little extra soil on the top to account for any settling.

Cultivation

While vine crops are fairly simple to grow, you should keep an eye out for mildew, especially when there is moisture in the air. Maintain cultivation and check on your plants to avoid sitting water and keep the weed pressure down. 

Harvesting

Zuccurì plants typically tend to die off after producing five or six fruits which makes it very important to understand the harvest times

As soon as the squash's stems turn from green and fleshy to a hardened, woody texture then it's ready for harvest. Cut the stem away from the vine (while being mindful to not break the vine itself) and you are now ready to start the curing process. 

Curing

Zuccurì is not ready to eat straight after harvesting and rather requires a 10-14 day curing period for peak ripeness.

Zuccuri can be cured by simply leaving the produce somewhere shaded or protected from the sun. After the curing period is complete the Zuccurì is ready to be eaten. 

Please see the below chart for those all-important proper curing times:

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