Shishigatani kabocha

Shishigatani – C. moschata Duchesne ‘Shishigatani’.

Shaped like an hour glass or maybe ‘infinity’ symbol the Shishigatani is a winter squash or pumpkin that is from the Kyoto area in Japan and used especially in Buddhist priest shojin ryori tradition and cuisine vegetarian dishes.

It is believed to have been an accidental discovery and crop developed in the early Edo period.

This is one I am growing at two sites – in the mountains but mainly currently at the Arcadia farm. It grows quite quickly and has long runners but is still a small vine compared with many other squash and pumpkins and you can fit quite a few into a smallish space. It seems to grow and fruit best when trained up onto fences and structures that keep the fruit off the ground or in open lawn spaces that drain well. They seem to dislike a lot of water on them while fruiting and this season I have lost a few to sudden rot attacks after very heavy rain fall and warm weather in late summer. I start them in a mix of compost stacked on lucerne and with a heavy cow manure and mushroom compost component. I have found they grow ferociously and it is likely possible to get two crops in if the weather is suitable with a lot of early heat and sun – early spring and mid summer. Rats and other annoying mammals, rodents and marsupials love to gnaw on them.

They seem to ripen randomly and you can cut them with a long 5cm stem as soon as the skin starts to colour from dark green/black with a slight yellow or brown area on them. They then need to be matured at rest in a sunny spot for about a week then in shade for about 2-3 weeks for the taste to fully develop.

They taste very creamy and nutty with both an excellent texture and flavour if left to mature properly. Excellent sliced for tempura or mashed for soup or even just sliced and lightly grilled or fried.

There is apparently an annual celebration of this squash at the Anrakuji Temple.

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This is a photo snap of a Shishigatani sliced in two after about 5 months of ageing.