The Carnival squash was developed by plant breeder Ted Superak of Harris Seeds in North America. The Carnival squash was developed with the intent to improve upon the sweet dumpling squash. A newer squash to the commercial marketplace the Carnival has seen an increase in popularity as a result of food and lifestyle bloggers writing about it being decorative as well as such a flavourful eating squash.
Their skin is uniquely flecked with shades of green, gold and yellow; each one is different and its yellow flesh is mellow and sweet. Use it wherever acorn squash or butternut squash is called for in a recipe.
Carnival Squash are not very large, weighing just 400 to 500gm on average, they are the perfect single serving size, and ideal for cooking whole, roasted or stuffed.
It is not only decorative it is also excellent tasting, its orange flesh can be eaten both raw (grated) and cooked, in sweet or savory preparations, and it has a slight taste of fresh chestnut. They store well and can also be used to decorate the home in autumn.
Warm temperatures tend to yield greener squash. After the squash is harvested, the green on the surface will eventually fade with time to leave only cream and orange colors.
Whole, it can be stored for several months in a cool, dry place, away from light. In pieces, keep it 24 or 48 hours in the refrigerator before consuming. It does not necessarily peel, but its skin is fine and edible. You just have to wash it well and brush it and then cook it as you wish. Be careful, if you cook it whole, be sure to pierce the skin in several places with a fork or a small knife so that the steam can escape. It is really excellent stuffed!
Prepare the Site:
Choose a sunny, sheltered spot with moisture retentive, humus rich soil. Improve the soil by digging in some well-rotted manure or compost. The simplest way is to dig a hole 30cm (12in) deep and 45cm (18in) across and fill it with well rotted compost or manure. Cover with a 15 to 20cm (6-8in) layer of soil to make a raised mound that will provide drainage along with a rich source of nutrients. Left to their own devices the plants will trail for several feet in all directions. Ideally each plant needs 120cm square (4ft square) in order to spread and avoid competing with nearby plants. (Alternatively you can grow them in large containers).
Sow indoors in pots April to June or sow direct from mid May to the end of June.
A minimum temperature of 10°C (50°F) will be needed for germination, which can be supplied in the greenhouse, glazed porch, or cold frame.
If grown entirely in a heated greenhouse seed can be sown in situ in late winter, or early spring for transplanting to a cloche or cold frame. If you do not have any glass, then delay sowing until late spring to avoid damage from heavy frost.
Fill 7.5cm (3in) pots with compost and firm gently. Sow seed on its side, not flat to ensure reliable germination. Sow 12mm (½in) deep and cover. (You may choose to sow two seeds per pot, and remove the weaker seedling later; the strongest plants are kept.) Label, water and put in a propagator or on a windowsill.
Germination should take place 10 to 14 days later. If temperatures are higher it may only be 4 to 6 days. After germination the young plants will grow very quickly and will need repotting almost at once. When roots begin to show through the bottom of the pot, transplant to a 12.5cm (5in) container. Keep barely moist to prevent stems from rotting and protect from strong sunlight with a sheet of newspaper.
Hardened off before planting outside, around late May/early June and all danger of frost has passed. Plant out with 120cm (48in) between plants, providing good air circulation to avoid mildew. Protect seedlings from slugs.
Sowing directly outdoors:
Early sowing outdoors is rarely of much benefit as the seeds may not germinate if the soil is too cold, or cold temperatures may damage young plants. Four weeks before the last frost is expected is about right.
Sow two or three seeds 2.5cm (1in) deep on their edges under cloches or glass jars with 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) between plants. Remove the weaker seedlings later.
Planting flowers nearby such as Cosmos and Zinnia to attract bees can help with squash pollination. Marigolds and nasturtiums may help to repel many common squash plant pests.
Companion plants include sweetcorn, beans, lettuce, peas, pumpkin, radish and melons. Avoid planting potatoes or any Brassica species near your squash. These vegetables are heavy feeders. They will compete with your squash for nutrients making it difficult for them to grow well.
Hoe gently to keep the weeds down and do not let the plants dry out. Plenty of water is essential, especially when the plants are in flower and when the fruits have started to swell. Avoid splashing water on the stems of the young plants. Apply a mulch of about 12mm (1in) deep of grass cuttings or compost after watering. This helps conserve soil moisture and keeps the weeds down.
If you dig in plenty of manure before planting, additional feeding is unnecessary on heavy, fertile soil. On sandy or light soil, regular liquid feed will help boost production.
Plants under glass should be hand pollinated. The female flowers are distinguished by the swelling below the bloom. Male flowers have a prominent central core, bearing yellow pollen. The male flower is first to appear and the female flowers will follow. To hand pollinate, remove the petals from a male flower; push the core into the centre of the female flower. For a high success rate, use a different male for each female flower.
Harvesting: 80 to 95 days (11 to 14 weeks.)
Unlike summer squashes, such as courgettes and marrows, it pays to let winter squashes ripen thoroughly. If you harvest the fruits regularly you will get a heavier crop over a longer season.
You will know that your plants are ready after the rind of the vegetable has hardened and the stem is two inches long. If you harvest it before it is fully mature it will lose its sweet flavour. Harvest before the temperature falls. Use a sharp knife or secateurs to sever the fruit from the plant leaving a short stem, do not pull them off. Harvest all fruits before heavy frost, and they can be stored indoors at 10°C for several months.
Whole, uncut squash will keep for two to four months in a cool, dry place. Once sliced, store in the fridge for up to five days. Cooked squash will keep for up to seven days in an airtight container in the fridge.
Remember that the seeds are edible and make a healthy and delicious snack. So instead of discarding the seeds, roast them just as you would pumpkin seeds.
Varieties within the Cucurbita pepo species will crossbreed easily, so if planning on saving seed from any of the squash included in this species, be sure to only grow one variety within this species, at a time.
When growing different squash varieties within a species, a separation distance of 1.5 to 2 miles (2.4 to 3.2 km) needs to be maintained, in order to prevent cross-pollination and seed contamination. If there are landscape barriers in place, this distance may be shortened a little.
Often referred to as a Pumpkin, it is a gourd-like squash of the genus Cucurbita, species moschata and the family Cucurbitaceae (which also includes gourds). Pumpkin seeds are known as pepitas.
The common name of pumpkin can refer to cultivars of any one of the species Cucurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, and Cucurbita moschata. The fruit of which can range in size from less than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) to over 1,000 pounds (453.59 kilograms).
The word originates from the word pepon, which is Greek for 'large melon'. The French adapted this word to pompon, which the British changed to pumpion and later American colonists changed that to the word we use today, 'pumpkin'.
The origin of pumpkins is not definitively known, although they are thought to have originated in North America, the oldest evidence, pumpkin-related seeds dating between 7000 and 5500 B.C., were actually found in Mexico.
Traditionally, Butternut is one of the main squash types used to make pumpkin pie.
The word squash is a shortening of the Narraganset (native American Indian) word ‘asquutasquash’ meaning ‘green things that may be eaten raw’. Pumpkins tend to have the thicker rind while squashes have a denser, sweeter flesh.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 1 gram Average Seed Count 10 Seeds Common Name Winter Squash Other Common Names Mardigrass or Festival Squash Family Cucurbitaceae Genus Cucurbita Species pepo Cultivar Carnival Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Flowers Bright yellow flowers Natural Flower Time Summer Position Choose a sunny, sheltered spot Soil Moisture retentive, humus rich soil. Time to Sow Sow indoors in pots April to June or sow direct from mid May to early June. Germination Germination of seeds is about 2 weeks Harvest Use pruning shears or a sharp knife and leave 7 to 10cm (3 to 4in) of stem Time to Harvest Honey Bear can be sown and harvested in about 100 days.