Squash Information

Squashes generally refer to four species of the genus Cucurbita native to Mexico and Central America, also called marrows depending on variety or the nationality of the speaker. These species include C. maxima , C. mixta , C. moschata , and C. pepo . In North America, squash is loosely grouped into summer squash or winter squash, as well as autumn squash depending on whether they are harvested as immature vegetables or mature vegetables . Gourds are from the same family as squashes. Well known types of squash include the pumpkin and zucchini. Giant squash are derived from Cucurbita maxima and are routinely grown to weights nearing those of giant pumpkins.

Archaeological evidence suggests that squash may have been first cultivated in Mesoamerica some 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, but may have been independently cultivated elsewhere, albeit later. Squash was one of the "Three Sisters" planted by Native Americans. The Three Sisters were the three main indigenous plants used for agriculture: maize , beans, and squash. These were usually planted together, with the cornstalk providing support for the climbing beans, and shade for the squash. The squash vines provided ground cover to limit weeds. Weeds are often detrimental to the growing conditions of the squash. The beans provided nitrogen fixing for all three crops.

Summer squashes, including young vegetable marrows are harvested during the growing season, while the skin is still soft and the fruit rather small; they are eaten almost immediately and require little to no cooking.

Wikipedia, Squash, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Squash_(plant) (as of Apr 8, 2010)

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