'F1 Rolet' is a Gem type squash, small and round and about the size of a cricket ball, its deep green smooth skin sets it apart from other squashes.
It is a summer-fruiting squash variety like a courgette but with the creaminess and superb flavour of a winter storing squash. Early maturing and high yielding, you can harvest regularly for many weeks from August and yet it stores right on through to Christmas.
If you are planning to keep the squashes for a while, the fruit is ripe and ready to be picked when the skin is too hard to pierce with your fingernails
With dark green hard outer skins and a pale green tasty flesh, Little Gem Rolet is described as being very high in sugar content, but this rather sells it short as it has the most incredibly nutty, warm flavour. Easy to cook well, it is ideal for stuffing, baking or boiling whole.
Rolet is a compact trailing type and perfect for those with a little less space; it can be trained over a framework or pergola so that the gourds hang downwards.
"F1 Rolet" is worthy of a few recipes:
- Just roast or boil it whole until it's soft to the tip of a knife (about 40 minutes at 175C/350F/gas 4, or 30 at a gentle rolling boil), slice off the top and eat with a spoon, seasoned with salt and pepper, like a boiled egg.
- Simply peel and quarter the gems, scoop out the seeds and roast with olive oil.
- Slice the squash in half around its equator, boil (or steam or microwave) until the flesh is soft enough to scoop out the seeds easily. Then add a knob of butter in each hollow, mash the flesh inside the skin and season with cinnamon sugar.
- If you prefer a savory dish, try the same idea but with sea salt, black pepper and thyme, or mashed with a balsamic dressing.
- For stuffed gem squashes, prepare and steam the squashes as above, then fill each hollow with a spoonful of vegetables of your choice mixed with pesto and serve (also ideal as a vegetarian meal). Alternatively, you can make a stuffing with a beef mince and tomato ragu or with pork mince and pine nuts flavoured with chilli, rosemary and sesame oil.
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.
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.
Before storing, cure the fruit. Curing is best accomplished by allowing them to remain in the sunshine for about ten days. It is the sunlight that cures or hardens the skin. If there is a chance of freezing weather, protect in a storage building and return to the sunlight the following day.
If you cure the fruit and store them properly, they will last well into the winter. The storage area should be dark, about 10°C (50°F), and rather dry (less than 65% humidity).
- Additional Information
Packet Size 10 Seeds Common Name Gem Squash Other Common Names Little Gem Squash, 8-Ball Squash, Courgettes Ronde Family Cucurbitaceae Genus Cucurbita Species pepo Cultivar F1 Rolet 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 Matures in 85 days.