Updated: Sep 27, 2021
Here's the latest in my "grow your own Japanese veggies" posts. This time, we're looking at pumpkins, or "kabocha" in Japanese. Not only are kabocha easy to grow, they also decorate your vegetable patch with lovely green tentacle stems and little flowers. I bought some seeds and planted them in potting compost in mid-April - it was already warm enough to leave them outside to germinate. This is a Kapanese variety called uchiki kiri which goes by some other names you might recognize; potimarron or onion squash - the seeds are widely available online. If you haven't tried this type of pumpkin before, you're in for a nice surprise - the flavour reminds me of chestnuts and the flesh is a lot smoother than a butternut squash. Not only that, kabocha are also very good for you - high in fibre and anti-oxidants, low in calories and a great source of potassium and other minerals as well.
The seeds I planted took about a week to germinate and I let then grow to about 6-7 cms high before planting them on into deep soil dug in with plenty of fresh compost. Just keep them well watered and well fed - if the leaves begin to yellow, water and feed more. I use a tomato feed fortnightly on mine which seems to work well. In a couple of weeks you'll get the beginnings of trains of beautiful water lily-shaped leaves and then yellow flowers which develop into your
baby pumpkins like the one on the left. You don't need to do much else at this stage but do keep the pumpkins off the soil (I use up-turned plant pots) to prevent them from rotting if the weather turns very wet. Just water well and feed. if you notice the leaves becoming a bit mildewy, mist them with a 50%/50% mixture of water and milk and the mildew will disappear after a week or so. Your first pumpkins should be ready to harvest about 100 days from planting. The uchiki kiri variety turns a lovely fiery orange colour - before you harvest, test the skin, which should be hard to the touch. The stalk should be about 2 inches long - if not, leave
the pumpkin to mature a little more. Once you've harvested your pumpkin, you can keep them for up to 3 months in a dark, cool place before using them - (some growers leave them in the sun for a week after harvesting to soak up some final rays) . I've got several recipes using Japanese pumpkins coming up - meantime, if you want to give growing your own a try, there's a short Youtube tutorial Grow your own Kabocha or scroll down to the bottom of the page. You can find the "how to grow" recipe just below.
Happy growing! Kurumi XXXX.
Grow your own Kabocha
what you’ll need:
a pack of kabocha seeds
20 cm pots
plant one seed per pot at about 1 cm depth and mist with water
the seeds should germinate in 5-7 days, if they don’t, just keep the earth damp and they will come!
plant out in full sun when there is no chance of frost and the plants have sprouted at least 2 main leaves
keep kabocha well watered and feed with tomato feed every 2 weeks
as the kabocha appear, keep them supported off the ground to prevent rot in wet weather, an upturned plastic plant pot is a good way to do this
the kabocha will change colour from yellow to a deep orange as they mature
they are ready to harvest when the skins are hard and the stalk
is about 5 cms long - this should take about 100 days