The fruits of Cucurbita are much prized by gardeners and home makers alike.
The plant is a half hardy annual that flowers in the summer and bears fruits of many colours (especially orange and yellow), and shapes (round, pear shaped).
Some of the common names for Cucurbita include Pumpkin, Squash, Zucchini, Gourd and Luffa.
Cucurbita maxima - Giant Pumpkin by Carl E Lewis; creative commons.
Cucurbita pepo – Courgette/Zucchini by Net_efekt.
The seeds of Cucurbita should be sown at a depth of 6 mm about two weeks after the last frost of spring. They like to grow in a sunny area of the garden that has good drainage and a rich soil of pH 6 to 7.
Cucurbita plants can also be grown first as seedlings indoors; they should be planted into peat pots about four weeks before transplanting out in the middle of spring.
The seedlings of Cucurbita should be spaced at about 60 cm apart when transplanting them outdoors.
As Cucurbita are runners they will require something to grow on such as a trellis or cane; it is very important to keep the fruits off the ground, so tie up strongly to prevent the fruits from rotting.
You will know that they are ready for picking when the fruit does not react to light pressure.
Sponges can be made from luffa by soaking the ripe luffa fruit in warm water for about three days.
The skin can then be easily peeled off. The luffa should then be washed to remove all traces of seeds.
Following drying for a week the luffa sponge is ready to be used.
Gourds also make great decorative pieces. The fruit of the gourd should first be cleaned, then dried from three weeks (small) to six months (large) until they rattle. The gourds should then be glazed with wax.
I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Cucurbita plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ Cucurbitaceae growing guides: How to grow Momordica and Trichosanthes plants.