Squashing my desire! (AGGIL 4)
Dad never really liked pasta. If it was in a lasagne then that was a bit different as the pasta was all hidden. As dad got older he enjoyed penne with a nice rich tomato sauce... and cheese. But in my early years dad was not a fan of pasta... and especially spaghetti...
When I suggested to dad around the age of eight that there was a vegetable that I'd like to grow called Spaghetti Squash, the seeds never arrived. I'm sure I continued to ask to grow this same vegetable over a good number of years, though the seeds again never seemed to arrive. Lots of other seeds arrived: parsnips, runner beans, carrots, beetroot, French beans, lettuce, tomatoes, aubergine, peppers, sweetcorn, courgette, marrow, spinach, radish, celery and many more. To be frank, I sort of forgot each year about the Spaghetti Squash because of the abundance of other exciting seeds that were arriving and being sown. I got so caught up in the joy of what we had that I forgot and therefore didn't worry about what I didn't. It was only when I saw it in the annual catalogue from Thompson & Morgan that I would say again "Dad, can we grow some Spaghetti Squash this year?"
It was in this first decade or so of my life, filled with the joys a productive garden brings - veggies, flowers, soft fruits, and apples and pears in our orchard - that my desire to want to grow fruit, vegetables and some flowers really flourished.
Some four decades later, in January this year, we received a little parcel from Erica of Erica's Little Welsh Garden. As an extra Erica had also included a whole host of different seeds. There were loads of packets of her own saved seeds from last year's harvests, including a good number of different squash and pumpkin varieties. However, it was one little plain white packet that really caught my eye... it held six of Erica's saved Spaghetti Squash seeds. There were also other packets with some giant pumpkin seeds and some other exotic squash seeds, though my heart just leapt at the thought of these six little dried, papery and weightless Spaghetti Squash seeds.
Obviously, I sowed them as soon as I could. The seeds germinated well and grew strong. When they reached a healthy size I put them in at the Community Gardens; I wanted them to be away from our Cheeky Prince at the allotment plots. I admit to watering them, though apart from that I sort of left them to their own devices. And boy did they grow... not massive and spreading, though rather productive. In fact these Spaghetti Squash have proven to be our most prolific of any squash this year. There seems to be two distinct varieties. One is a mottled green (below) and the other is the yellow one (above).
Yesterday, with some excitement and trepidation, I went down to the Community Gardens to harvest the first Spaghetti Squash. It was quite a moment and did somewhat pull at my heartstrings. It's quite incredible that I have been waiting to sow, grow, harvest, cook and taste a Spaghetti Squash for almost 46 years!
I brought it home and found that the mellow yellow skin was actually extremely tough. Maybe I had just left it in situ ripening too long? I tried to prick it all over as it says on the cooking instructions that I had read online, though the fork hardly made a dent. I decided the best thing to do would be to cut it in half and then bake it in the oven with the cut sides down. After 45 minutes I turned the bronzed shells over so that the flesh was showing and popped a knob of butter and some cracked black pepper into the hollow where the seeds had been. Back in it went for another 15 minutes...
When I took it out of the oven it smelled nice, though nothing special. I used a fork to tease out the flesh, and sure enough the yellow lusciousness came apart and turned into little threads of buttery squash. Awesome!! I have to admit it was all a little bit wetter than I had imagined it would be, though with a little bit of salt added it was absolutely divine!
Finally, I had sown, grown, harvested, cooked and eaten a Spaghetti Squash!! A lifetime goal achieved, and a desire fully quashed (not squashed!!)!
Will I be doing them again? Most probably. I still have three seeds remaining from the six Erica sent, and will be saving some seeds from the mesh of threads and seeds I removed prior to baking.
All I need now is more space to have a huge squash and pumpkin patch, and to harvest the rest of these little beauties of Spaghetti Squash at the Community Gardens.
I think even dad would have been happy with the outcome; he loved marrow with butter, salt and pepper and I'm sure this would have been one 'spaghetti' he would have happily devoured.
A Guernsey Gardener in London, Day 4
9/10/2019 07:09:47 pm
I remember eating my first Spaghetti squash I really thought adding sauce would make it taste good ..I was so disappointed..I think the butter salt and pepper would have been better..Paul how Blessed you are to have had a Dad and Mum like yours💌 good read
10/10/2019 06:57:38 am
Thanks Anna. I had read a number or pieces about Spaghetti Squash online and many of them said that treating it like spaghetti just didn't work, unless the sauce was a cheesy or spiced cheese sauce. I thought I would just treat it like a vegetable and I'm really pleased I did. I think my first experience of it was therefore rather lovely. I can't quite see what a tomato sauce would add, and in fact I think the sauce on top of the moistness of the Spaghetti Squash would just make it all a bit too wet. Maybe I'm just not baking it right and next time maybe the inside will be less moist. Anyway, I'm really pleased that I've eventually got round to growing these and will definitely be doing some next year too. I'm so lucky to have the parents that I have had; they had an intrinsic joy of life and nature even before it was the 'in thing', though I'm not sure either were really aware of this. It was just part of who they were/are. Everytime I speak to Mum she tells me something about the garden or the garden beyond her boundary wall. 😊
9/10/2019 10:09:57 pm
Great blog Paul. I love not only growing Spaghetti Squash but eating it too. Such a great winter and warming food to enjoy
10/10/2019 06:48:59 am
Thanks for the comment Tony. I can't really believe that I haven't grown these, even in a small garden, at all before. I'd love to bake one of these whole so will be trying that next. It's certainly going to be one that I do grow again next year, and it will be interesting to see whether my saved-seed and Erica's saved-seed are similar. 😊
10/10/2019 09:02:29 am
I’m a huge fan of spaghetti squash. We grew them last season, ended up harvesting about 18 of them and all of them a really good size. We eat them just as you did, alongside a nice tasty lentil stew or with something like a pumpkin and date tagine. Enjoy!!
10/10/2019 09:19:07 am
Wow! 18!! How many plants did you have Fiona? I am so glad they did well for you, and we will ourselves be growing them again next year. Great ideas on what to serve these with also - we will definitely have a go with a lentil stew soon as I am feeling in need of exactly that!
10/10/2019 05:16:54 pm
The truth is that for my love of growing and gardening really does go right back to dad and mum. It was always something that they did, together. Dad would look after the vegetable gardens and mum would look after the kitchen and guest house and the flower side of things - including picking hedgerow primroses and violets and sending them to a seller at Covent Garden market. Of course, that type of thing would not be allowed now! As dad worked on the boats he would take the flowers to work with him. They would be sailed across the Channel then put on the London train from Weymouth, and be picked up by the seller at Waterloo - travel all gratis! That would certainly not happen these days. 😊
11/10/2019 12:52:29 am
Alright Paul, you've convinced me to try cooking spaghetti squash again. May I ask how you cooked them? (oven temp, time, etc.) I loved your storytelling on this one so thank you for sharing those great gardening memories!
11/10/2019 06:33:23 am
Thanks Sandy. The cooking instructions I have seen online suggested using a fork to prick the skin all over and baking it whole for an hour at 180c. I cut the Spaghetti Squash in half, scooped out the seeds, then backed it cut side down for 45 minutes, turned cut side up, added the butter and pepper (next time I will add salt here rather than later), then baked for another fifteen minutes. All at 180c fan. 😊
15/10/2019 07:38:58 pm
After they cook for the 45 minutes flip them over fill them with spaghetti sauce and cover with cheese. With some fresh French bread it is so yummy. It’s best if it’s a thick sauce because of all the liquid in the squash
16/10/2019 12:30:15 pm
Rene, we will definitely give that a go. I think your suggestion of cheese and crusty bread hit the mark on this decision!! 😊
16/10/2019 12:02:48 am
What a treat to finally grow that one thing you've always wanted to grow! I bet next years crop will be even better! :)
16/10/2019 12:32:08 pm
Wendy, indeed it was. We still have a few at the Community Gardens and I will be bringing them in (in other words harvesting!) next week. 😊
Leave a Reply.
...long term partners.