Thursday, 26 March 2009

Sweet, sweet Dumplings

Sweet Dumpling is a squash, a member of the same family as Marrows and Pumpkins but is a much smaller, more manageable sized fruit. It's size is one of the reasons why I will be trying it out this season alongside my usual Butternut squash and courgettes. I've been growing pumpkins for a number of years but in reality, unless you pinch out and grow on a large number of fruits, they are inclined to grow to massive fruits. Impressive but few in number and not entirely practical for the kitchen!
Sweet Dumpling claim to be croppable at a more useful size, 1 fruit per person and therefore quicker to cook with less waste. I have no clue to the flavour, but most squash I have grown and eaten tend to have a mild but distinct flavour. The mildest being Marrows which,like all cucurbit, lose flavour if grown too large. Many people claim Marrow to be watery but that tends to be partly due to choosing an over size fruit and cooking it unimaginatively. Butternut is a great flavour, making a wonderful soup as well as a good side vegetable or a very different chip!
I have already sown a half dozen seeds in a seed bed at the plot as the pack directions say you can from March onwards but I am also sowing some in a partitioned tray on the windowsill at home to be safe. If both come up, then I will have a succession of plants! I have no idea how many fruits to expect from each plant so I will try for maybe three plants, then a following two planted out later. That way, I have back up if I have failures and also plenty to share with friends if success overwhelms!
The earlier sowings of Tomato and Sweet Pepper have been pricked out into individual plugs , still under cover of the mini house, and are doing well. The supermarket Butternut are in three inch diameter pots now and romping away outdoors day and night. If the weather holds well for the weekend, I will risk a couple of plants at the plot. I have erected a makeshift pyramid of discarded garden trellis which I will be growing several climbing crops up, but the one I am most anticipating is trying one of the squashes as a climber. They naturally throw out tendrils and can strangle any unfortunate stems that they cross when grown horizontally. I have seen the large 'Jack O'Lantern' type pumpkins grown on a pergola before so my little Dumplings or Butternuts shouldn't present any problems. I am using strong fencing trellis rather than the fold up thin stuff so weight isn't an issue.
Back on the plot, the Iceberg lettuce 'Saladin' has germinated very well and very quickly, having been sown last week. People claim Radish is a great starter for children due to the speed of germination but I'd put these lettuce seeds ahead in a race!

No comments: