All About Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is a fruit that belongs to the winter squash family. Though widely considered a vegetable, it is actually a fruit because it contains the seeds for plant propagation. It is an oblong-shaped fruit, ranging from white and pale yellow to orange in color. The fruit is named such because when cooked, its flesh can be separated into fine strands that resemble spaghetti. High in several nutrients such as beta carotene, potassium, and Vitamin A, spaghetti squash is also very low in calories.
Size and Appearance
Spaghetti squash is a large fruit, with a weight ranging between 4 to 8 lbs. When you are buying spaghetti squash, look for fruits that are hard in texture, with no soft or mushy spots. Avoid fruits that have green spots, as it indicates rawness. The color, depending on the variety, can be ivory, yellow, or orange.
Growing Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti squash is easy to grow and maintain. It requires slightly acidic soil, so you must amend the soil by adding sulfur pellets, if it is too alkaline. You must also provide a sunny spot in your backyard, and make sure the soil is well drained. These large fruits require ample nutrition, so you must incorporate plenty of fertilizer in the planting spot before sowing the seeds.
You can grow squash from seeds or young seedlings. When growing squash, make sure you read the tag, understand the variety and spacing required, depending on the type of plant. Sow the seeds when there is no danger of frost. Avoid planting spaghetti squash in the same location every year. Sow the seeds at a depth of 1 inch. After the seedlings emerge, thin the seedlings to a distance of 4 to 5 feet apart, if you have a larger variety. Smaller varieties require a space of 2 to 3 feet. Remove the weaker seedlings and keep the stronger ones.
As the spaghetti squash grows, make sure you provide the plants enough water. These plants require watering once or twice a week, depending on the amount of rainfall you get. An inch or more of water is essential for healthy growth. A regular side dressing of all-purpose fertilizer will also help in optimum growth. Mulch the plants to keep weeds to a minimum, and to increase moisture retention. Remove weeds regularly, as they absorb nutrition from the soil.
Spaghetti squash plants are susceptible to bacterial and fungal infestations. Some pests such as cucumber beetles are also harmful to these plants. Use an insecticide to remove pests, and use a fungicide to treat infections. These plants can also be damaged by excessive cold, and are not frost hardy.
Cooking Spaghetti Squash
You can cook spaghetti squash by microwaving, baking, or boiling it, among other options. Because of its shape, texture and mild flavor, this fruit is a popular addition in many dishes. Dieters can use this nutritious fruit in dishes that require pasta or spaghetti, and enjoy great taste with low calories.