Cucurbitaceae are courgettes, but not only! There are pumpkins and melons, and also many other types of fruit and vegetables, with their respective variants: it is a category to be known also to have new ideas in the kitchen and in the garden.
Among the cucurbits we find courgette, pumpkins, cucumbers, watermelon, melon, loofah and other variants such as the netted melon and so on. In fact, this family includes both vegetables and fruits of considerable size and which need a soil very rich in nutrients. They love being in the sun very much, which is why cucurbits are really good in Italy!
The most unknown of the category is certainly the Luffa, from which a very particular sponge is also obtained, 100% vegetable.
From the point of view of the plant, those of cucurbits are monoecious, so they have male and female flowers on the same plant, separated but cohabiting. In other types of vegetables there are male and female plants.
This property involves the need for external pollinators such as bees or wasps for breeding. To understand which are the male flowers and which are the female ones, it is necessary to look for the ovary under the corolla.
The family of cucurbits it is one of the largest of fruit vegetables and is known for requiring rather demanding fertilization. When you have to put them in a organic garden, it therefore becomes necessary to think of a crop rotation, which alternate the cucurbits with other less demanding plants.
The allergic reactions usually the protagonists are the summer ones like melon and watermelon. It is a real shame for those who suffer from it, because they actually are both tasty cucurbits, in summer also a precious source of vitamins, mineral salts and water. But valid alternatives can be found in other fruits that do not grow on this type of plant.
The pumpkin is in my opinion the most fascinating of this category, from an aesthetic point of view, especially if you think about the many decorative pumpkins that in autumn and Christmas we can also buy in the markets. It is and remains a precious cucurbit too from a nutritional point of view and it is also at the center of many legends.
Among the various types of pumpkin there are for example Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita pepo and Cucurbita moschata, usually the harvest period is from September to the end of November, on Italian soil, as well as the pulp, the seeds are also often used in salads. There Italian gastronomic tradition it is full of pumpkin-based dishes, just think of risotto, tortellini, windows or the many recipes with which to prepare it in the oven or fried.
In Anglo-Saxon countries, today also in Italy, the pumpkin is also used to make the Jack-o'-lantern, that of the Halloween party that drives away evil spirits.
If you liked this article keep following me also on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram
You may also be interested in:
- How to plant zucchini
- Luffa: natural sponge
- Fighting zucchini aphids