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The lost plot: Growing gem squash

Gem squash is a crop not as well known in New Zealand as it deserves, as it is delicious, easy to grow and nutritious. It is a small, round squash with flesh somewhere between a pumpkin and a courgette. Children usually like gem squash because they are sweet without the sticky texture of kumara or pumpkin.

On its website, Gem Squash NZ recommends them as a first solid vegetable for babies, as they are light, delicious and wholesome. To grow, give them the same conditions as pumpkin or melons – good rich soil and a warm site.

They can be harvested and eaten skin and all when they are about the size of a golf ball, but more usual is to pick them at about the size of a large cooking apple and while the skin is still green (if they turn yellow they’ll be stringy). Try cooking them whole, pricking the skin, in the pan with a roast and, when they are soft, cut them in half, scoop out the seeds and season.

Seeds are available from Kings Seeds. To save you searching through their entire catalogue, as I had to, they’re listed under ‘Squash, African Gem’.

First published: Dec 2018