A curiously-shaped heirloom winter squash from France, dating from at least 1820, it is named for the colour and shape of the fruit. Squash 'Turkish Turban' produces attractive, colourful fruit, and at its blossom end is a Turban-like cap, thus its name. The base is most often orange, with colorful stripes and spots, and the top half has a light background for the unique splotches.
This edible and ornamental variety is popular with gardeners, it produces a high yield of fruits that are perfect for both baking or for use as an ornament for decoration in autumn and store very well. .
This variety is closely related to the buttercup squash, the taste is similar to other Cucurbita maxima cultivars. Wrapped in a thin but hard shell, the fine-textured orange flesh can vary from mild to sweet, with a nutty and sweet flavour that is reminiscent of hazelnuts.
Also known as 'French turban' and occasionally referred to as the 'Large Turkish Turban', to distinguish it from smaller cultivars, this heirloom variety grows on vines that reach to around to 2 meters (6ft)in length, they produce lots of fruit which measure 20 to 30cm (8 to 12in) in diameter and are heavy for their size and can weigh up to 2kg (5 lbs)
The plants have a climbing habit, perfect for growing against stakes or trellises, so that you can comfortably harvest standing up. The strain can be grown alongside runner beans, some tendrils stay on the ground and keep it nice and moist, others climb inside the beans
Sow seeds inside from March to May or directly outside from Mid May to June for a harvest in July to October.
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 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 5cm (2in) long. If you harvest it before it is fully mature it will lose its sweet flavour. Harvest before the temperature falls.
Care should be taken not to damage the cap as it is the most delicate part of the Turban squash and where rot is most likely first to occur. 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 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.
Turban squash was first mentioned in the 1818 publication of Le Bon Jardinier, which is a French encyclopedia. The Turban squash was known in France as Giraumon Turban and images of it can be found in Vilmorin-Andrieux’s famous album of illustrations, Les Plantes Potagères.
Before 1818, there were turban shaped cultivars, such as the French Turban, but its flavour was bland and texture watery, so it was predominantly used as an ornamental. This French Turban, however, would go on to be a parent along with the hubbard, acorn, and autumnal marrow to the American Turban in the early nineteenth century, which offered a much more desirable flavour and texture.
Today Turban squash can be found at specialty grocers and farmers markets. There are two varieties or cultivars:
- Turkish Turban:
a medium-sized, usually tricolour gourd with red cap and red, green and white turban.
- Mini Red Turban:
a small-sized, usually bicolour gourd with red cap and white turban (sometimes with narrow stripes). Like an Amanita muscaria mushroom.
- Turkish Turban:
- Additional Information
Packet Size 2.5 grams Average Seed Count 10 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 4 seeds / gram Common Name Turks or French Turban, Winter Squash
Heirloom (French 1820's)
Other Language Names Fr: Giraumon Turban Family Cucurbitaceae Genus Cucurbita Species maxima Cultivar Turkish Turban Synonym Bishops or Mexican Hat. Large Turkish Turban Hardiness Half Hardy Annual Flowers Bright yellow flowers Natural Flower Time Summer Fruit Most often orange, with red, white and green colourful stripes
20 to 30cm (8 to 12in) in diameter
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 Can be sown and harvested in about 100 days.