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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:36 am 
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Alright, here's the deal with the cucuzza. They're a really long squash that my family brought over from Sicily close to 100 years ago. My grandfather has grown them in WI for his whole life as far as I know. I have tried three separate times to get these things to grow in FL with various degrees of success.

They grow like a vine, vertically, and you need a strong trellis about 5-6 feet tall. The squashes hang down and get to be about three or four feet long. You can eat the shoots and leaves (tenerumi) and they are also an key part of Sicilian minestrone. You can eat the squashes too.

This last year, I actually got them to grow beyond very small plants, on the porch, and they even flowered... but then nothing. I was able to at least get a batch of tenerumi for some pasta, but no squashes, so therefore no seeds.

Tried to manually pollinate (viewtopic.php?f=2&t=5700) but they never bore squash. I'm going to move them outside this year and hope the bees can do a better job than I can, but then I also run the risk of more bugs and critters getting at them.

I'm pretty low on seeds, maybe one more batch after this, and there won't be too many more years I can ask my grandpa to send to me more. I need this year's batch to succeed - even if I can get one squash so I can continue to plant! Please help!

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 14, 2011 7:37 pm 
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A little research says they MUST be hand pollinated because the make flowers and the female open at different times. Beyond that I can't help you.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:12 am 
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Oh man... can you give me a link?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 15, 2011 7:06 pm 
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Not much here, I can't find everything I read

http://www.food.com/bb/viewtopic.zsp?t= ... 2a1f5f92e0


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 16, 2011 3:34 pm 
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Huh. Ya know, I saw some of these seeds when picking up stuff for my garden a couple of weeks ago. Was looking for zucchini, and these momentarily confused me ... I'll see if I can go back and find them, or at least which company it was. You have me intrigued.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:27 am 
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Taamar wrote:
Not much here, I can't find everything I read

http://www.food.com/bb/viewtopic.zsp?t= ... 2a1f5f92e0


Thank you!

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 7:23 pm 
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Vegetables? What are those?


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 17, 2011 10:16 pm 
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Sorry, looked for cucuzza seeds today at my local Home Depot where I'd seen them the other day, and it turns out that the vendor had just come by in the morning and taken away all of them (and others). Kind of annoying. But, they do exist, if you're able to find them.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 28, 2011 8:07 am 
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Finished building the trellis yesterday (8'x5'x4'), and we got a decent rain today for the first time in months. The cucuzza sprouts are just starting to come up out of the pots, so with any luck I'll be able to transplant them into the garden in the next couple weeks.

As to the previous issue with the flowers opening at different times, I figure I can work around that by starting a batch a few weeks later than the first.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:44 pm 
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Hey, Vlad - I found a place that says it sells cucuzza seeds. It's a pretty sad website, so that's either a good sign (it's ma and pa selling stuff from their back yard), or a bad sign (Nigerians). Good luck!

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 10:26 am 
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Thanks man. I'll use that as a backup plan. For now the plants are about a foot, foot and a half tall and are in the ground. I think I have a shot at it this year...

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2011 2:24 pm 
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Cool, good luck!

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 12:43 pm 
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Taamar wrote:
A little research says they MUST be hand pollinated because the make flowers and the female open at different times. Beyond that I can't help you.


UPDATE: You do have to hand-pollinate if you just have one plant, because the flowers do open up at different times. This is also why last year's batch failed for me on the screen porch.

However if you have a bunch of plants, they will self-pollinate if you grow them outside. Especially if you live in an area with lots of crawly things that do the work for you.

The flowers open up around sunset and stay open until sunrise, and shrivel up during the day. It really is a wierd plant, a night-blooming super giant squash where you eat the vines too.

HOLY COW they grow fast. March 28th was my post where the squash started coming up in the pots. In a little over a month the vines grew to about 10 feet long and are completely taking over the trellis. The bottom leaves are the size of a human head, and there are a handful of squashes growing about 2-3 inches a day.

Apparently moving these things out into the yard was a good idea.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 2:15 pm 
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Wow that really is fast! So you already have some baby squashes growing? That's awesome! I'm glad you were able to grow some from your grandfather's seeds. That's a pretty cool family thing to pass down.
Now that I'm curious, I'm going to have to go google pics!

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 7:10 am 
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LadyKate wrote:
Now that I'm curious, I'm going to have to go google pics!


Flowers and leaves:
Image

Trellis, one month elapsed:
Image

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 1:09 pm 
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Interesting trellis. Is the idea to keep the worst of the sun off the interior plants, at least? Or was it just an easy way to build something they could climb up on?

Sorry, just re-read your original post. Don't think I registered "trellis" at the time. I imagine zucchini, etc., would grow just as well on one of those, right?

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 1:25 pm 
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Aethien wrote:
Interesting trellis. Is the idea to keep the worst of the sun off the interior plants, at least? Or was it just an easy way to build something they could climb up on?

Sorry, just re-read your original post. Don't think I registered "trellis" at the time. I imagine zucchini, etc., would grow just as well on one of those, right?


I've never grown zucchini, so I don't honestly know!

The reason the trellis constructed this way is that it'll be making a lot of squashes in another month and they need room to hang down. They will get 2-3 feet long before we eat them, or 4 feet if I leave some for seed, so they need a lot of surface area to hang from.

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 1:39 pm 
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Gotcha, thanks. That's always the problem with zucchini, for me - they tend to take over the garden, trailing 8 or 10 feet, etc. Then the leaves get that odd mildewy-look ... Huh, this might help that, too. Ganna have to look into this, looks simple enough.

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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 1:55 pm 
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Ya, it was easy enough, I had a pile of scrap 7 foot 2x6s left over from a ramp we tore down.

Each beam is two 2x6s, with another 2x6 cut into foot long sections to make spacers. This leaves a notch at one end where the top piece just slides on. The top is a free floating frame. In the case of an oncoming hurricane it can be removed and set aside. (I should probably put some sort of bolt through the top of each beam in case of a wind storm)

The whole thing is set down two and a half feet into the dirt with no concrete. The wood is old and warped enough that I couldn't set the beams perfectly level anyway, and I figured with the lattice work nailed on they should stay pretty much upright.

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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 7:53 am 
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Sicilian Minestrone recipe -
This is from my grandma. It lacked specifics, so most of the comments are mine. My wife and I made it this weekend - it came out really really great.
(I also found that it needs salt, but we made it without so everyone could add their own)

Ingredients:
1 onion
3 carrots
3 stalks celery
1 small potato
1/2 lb dry red or white beans
1/2 lb lima beans
1 lb green beans
1/2 of a cucuzza
4c tenerumi
28oz can whole tomatoes
2c Chicken Stock
2 tbsp butter
Olive Oil
1 lb pastina or broken pasta
Parmesan cheese

Directions:
In an 8qt pot, saute the onion, carrots, and celery for a few minutes until soft.
While you're doing that, put the dry red/white beans in a pot and boil for five minutes, then rinse under cold water.
Chop the green beans into 1 inch sections (bite sized)
Peel the cucuzza and dice small.
Wash the tenerumi thoroughly and remove any remaining curly vines. Chop into bite sized sections.
Peel the potato and dice small.
In the pot with the onions, put the potato, all of the beans, the cucuzza, the tenerumi, the tomatoes, and the chicken stock. Fill the pot with water until the vegetables are covered by 1/2 inch of water.
Bring to a boil.
Simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
Cover, and simmer for another 2 hours.
Turn heat to low, and add butter, a little olive oil, and a little grated parmesan.
Boil the pasta or pastina in a separate pot.
Serve the soup with optional pasta and grated parmesan on the side.

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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 12:30 pm 
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Sounds fantastic, will have to try it. Thanks!

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:35 am 
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Here's a 4 footer I just picked for seed.

Image

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 18, 2011 1:00 pm 
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Holy cow, and I thought a 4-pound zucchini was big. Good luck with the seeds.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:41 am 
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We finally cracked open the cucuzza for seeds, so I guess it was about three months to dry.

You'd think drying a squash would involve it degenerating into a rotten mushy mess, but these dry as hard as wood. Inside, there's seeds and a sparse paper-like material, so they're pretty clean. It went from weighing about 5 lbs to probably less than a pound. Very light.

We happened to have my wife's grandkids and their friend over, so we pulled the squash down from its drying location. I had the kids guess how many seeds were in there, and then I cracked it into sections with a hacksaw. They pulled all the seeds out into a tray. Turns out there were 538 seeds in there. About half were little white unusable ones, but even so, after this squash (plus another one) I have enough cucuzza seeds to start a farm.

This effort was a huge success.

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Last edited by Vladimirr on Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 10:44 am 
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Sweet!

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