My chilacayote plant is huge!

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Shule
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My chilacayote plant is huge!

#1

Post: # 23042Unread post Shule
Sat Jun 20, 2020 10:38 pm

My Chilacayote squash (Cucurbita ficifolia; Shark Fin Melon) is huge! It grows fast in cool weather, and apparently even faster with black plastic in cool weather. It's been unusually cool on and off (usually it's consistently hot before now). So, that should explain why it's probably 25+ times larger than the next most vigorous squash, so far (Cushaw White). I've even removed and eaten quite a few leaves, but they grow more fast.

I direct-seeded this plant on April 30th, 2020. Well, it's three plants in one spot.

It looks like it's already encroaching on the melons to the left.
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Location: SW Idaho, USA
Climate: BSk
USDA hardiness zone: 6
Elevation: 2,260 feet

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Shule
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Re: My chilacayote plant is huge!

#2

Post: # 23182Unread post Shule
Mon Jun 22, 2020 4:34 pm

I looked at it, today, and it's probably 20% larger (even though it hasn't been cool the last few days). I guess I should eat more greens. That's about half of the reason I'm growing it, actually (for squash greens).
Location: SW Idaho, USA
Climate: BSk
USDA hardiness zone: 6
Elevation: 2,260 feet

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Nan6b
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Re: My chilacayote plant is huge!

#3

Post: # 23237Unread post Nan6b
Tue Jun 23, 2020 9:27 am

You can eat squash greens?

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Shule
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Re: My chilacayote plant is huge!

#4

Post: # 23244Unread post Shule
Tue Jun 23, 2020 10:57 am

[mention]Nan6b[/mention]
Yep, at least some squash leaves (if not all kinds) are edible, except for the cotyledons, which are bitter, in my experience. Squash leaves are kind of fuzzy raw, of course. Chilacayote greens are a little more suited to eating than other squash greens (they're a little softer, and they attract fewer squash bugs). They're great in soups. You can wilt them to make them softer still and wrap things in them. The shoots are said to be edible, too.
Location: SW Idaho, USA
Climate: BSk
USDA hardiness zone: 6
Elevation: 2,260 feet

OhioGardener
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Re: My chilacayote plant is huge!

#5

Post: # 38413Unread post OhioGardener
Fri Jan 15, 2021 10:58 am

I just looked these up and read that the fruits can keep up to a year or more. Have you tried those? I like the idea of another cucurbit that can't cross with the species I'm already growing, but am unsure about the flavor/use of the fruit.
Debbie

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habitat-gardener
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Re: My chilacayote plant is huge!

#6

Post: # 38451Unread post habitat-gardener
Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:36 pm

I grew it for a few years. They look like little watermelons and are white inside, as stringy as spaghetti squash, with black seeds. Quite bland. But the immature fruit can be used like summer squash — I liked it, my partner didn’t. I did indeed keep a few for more than a year. They did get a bit dried out. To crack the thin, hard shell, I dropped one on a stone sidewalk. It bounced the first time but eventually cracked!

I probably still have seeds I saved, but they’re at least five years old.

It may need a long growing season to get mature fruit.

I don’t think I tried the leaves! I will have to try some squash leaves this summer! Are all cucumber leaves edible? Do some taste better than others? I was wondering what I could grow for summer greens, and this sounds like it’s worth trying.

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Re: My chilacayote plant is huge!

#7

Post: # 38645Unread post OhioGardener
Sun Jan 17, 2021 2:31 pm

habitat-gardener wrote: Fri Jan 15, 2021 7:36 pm I grew it for a few years. They look like little watermelons and are white inside, as stringy as spaghetti squash, with black seeds. Quite bland. But the immature fruit can be used like summer squash — I liked it, my partner didn’t.
Thanks. I don't know if I'll be able to grow it this year, but may consider in the future. I also read where it's used as a meat substitute in a vegetarian version of shark fin soup. Never tried either, but found that interesting.

Regarding your seeds, some of the other cucurbit species seeds can last 8 - 10 years, so you may still be just fine. If not, I saw that Sand Hill Preservation sells a squash of the same species. Don't know if there are different named cultivars of it or not.
Debbie

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Re: My chilacayote plant is huge!

#8

Post: # 38750Unread post Shule
Mon Jan 18, 2021 5:46 pm

At least one of the fruits I grew kept for over a year, I believe. At least one of them only lasted about 8 months.

If you like fruits that keep a really long time, you should grow Red-seeded Citron watermelon, too. I still have three of them that I harvested in 2019. Open, dry air seems to be more important than keeping them cool or dark (the ones in our storage room went bad first); the ones under a shelf in the kitchen lasted the longest.

I consider C. ficifolia a rice noodle squash. The strings are a lot more like rice noodles than Spaghetti squash is like spaghetti. They're a little tangy when baked, if the fruits are fully mature.

You can use the squash (not sure which parts, but I'm guessing it includes the skin) as a replacement for shark fins in shark fin soup. The skin has a unique texture among squash.

Fruits and seeds will mature in storage.

Squash bugs still are a pest to them, but when I grew both this and other squash at the same time, they preferred the other squashes. Growing this by itself, they had a party on it.
Location: SW Idaho, USA
Climate: BSk
USDA hardiness zone: 6
Elevation: 2,260 feet

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