About Tatume Squash: This round zucchini, known as a "calabacita" in the Mexican tradition, has been a staple of Mexican cuisine for centuries. One popular use for this squash is a stewed "comfort food" dish consisting of corn, onions, cream, and the zucchini.
Tatume Squash Germination: Gardeners with short growing seasons may want to start their squash seeds indoors a month before the last expected frost. Since squashes do not take well to transplanting, peat pots are the best option. Plant two seeds per pot, later clipping off the weaker seedling. Harden the seedlings by exposing them to the weather for several hours at a time during the week before transplanting. About a week after the last frost or when the soil temperature reaches an average of 65 degrees F, plant the seedlings in very rich soil 8-10' apart in rows 10-12' apart. Another option is to plant the seedlings in hills of two, 8-10' apart. To direct sow, plant the seeds when the soil temperature reaches at least 70 degrees F. Plant them 1/2" deep, 3-4' apart and thin to 8-10' apart. For companion planting benefits, plant squashes along with corn but avoid planting them with potatoes.
Growing Tatume Squash Seeds: Since squash seedlings do not tolerate frost, provide protective coverings if the temperature drops below 65 degrees F. Keep the soil moist at all times, but avoid getting the leaves wet as this can cause diseases such as rot or mildew. When the vines begin to develop, a layer of mulch will help conserve moisture and control weeds; mulch also will keep the squashes clean and protect them from too much soil contact. Tatume squashes have very long vines that do well in a trellis.
Harvesting Tatume Squash: Unlike other squashes, Tatume can be used either as a summer or a winter squash. For a summer squash, harvest it at a diameter of 4-6". For a winter squash, allow it to mature on the vine until it reaches its mature size and turns golden yellow.
Saving Tatume Squash Seeds: By the time the squash reaches its mature size, the seeds are mature. Cut the squash open, remove the pulp and seeds, and rinse off the pulp. Put the mixture in a bowl of water to remove the remaining pulp; the good seeds will sink. Remove the good seeds and spread them out to dry for 2-3 weeks, stirring them at times to make sure they dry completely. Store the seeds in a cool, dry place for up to 4 years.
Detailed Tatume Squash Info: Cucurbita pepo. Also called Calabacita. Annual. 45 days. 250 seeds per oz. 10-12' height. 36-48" spacing. Produces 10-12" mottled dark green, round or oval summer/winter squashes.