Vegetable Varieties
Winter Squash - Golden Nugget

While, as far as pumpkins go,  it's flavour is fairly middle of the road it's huge advantage is that it produces a mature crop at least two months before any other variety of pumpkin or squash that I know of.  For that reason I think a better name for it would be Summer Pumpkin rather then Winter Squash.  But while it is very early it stores well throughout the Winter.  Well worth putting one or two plants in to get an early start to the pumpkin/squash season,


description
Golden Nugget Winter squash with mature fruit on it.
Golden Nugget Winter squash with
mature fruit on it.

Close up of a Golden Nugget fruit.
Close up of a Golden Nugget fruit.
Large mid green leaves growing on thick tubular stems that protrude from a central stem.  Has a slight tendency to spread, as the plant matures, though it usually takes up no more than about a square metre of garden space.  The plant looks and behaves in a very similar way to a zucchini plant. 

Note that there are a number of Winter Squash varieties and some of them can be quite rampant, however this is not the case with Golden Nugget.

It produces several small to medium sized ball shaped pumpkins that have a dark orange skin with lighter orange coloured flesh and a hollowed out centre that holds the  seeds.  The skin gets darker as the pumpkin matures.  



Cultivation
Plant in mid to late Spring after the risk of the last frost has passed.  Like all pumpkins and zucchinis Golden Nugget  does best in a well drained soil.

Prepare the bed by adding a shovel full of sheep, cow or horse manure. and a handful of blood and bone.  A small sprinkling of NKP fertiliser (quarter of a handful) will also help.   If you have some compost available then dig in about a shovel full of that as well.  If your soil is heavy then it would be a good idea to also add some sand.

They can be planted both as seeds or seedlings.  Mound the soil to form an area 3 to 5 centimetres high with a radius of around 25 to 30 centimetres.   Cover the soil around the mound but do not place any mulch on it.

Seed method
Plant four to six seeds in the mound to a depth of a couple of centimetres.  Once they have sprouted thin out to the two strongest seedlings.  Water the seedlings with a diluted liquid fertiliser a couple of times during the following  week.

seedling method
Remove seedlings from their punnet and immerse them in  a small container filled with a diluted liquid fertiliser solution for a couple of minutes.  Plant two seedlings in the mound and water in with the solution the seedlings have been soaking in.  Water the seedlings with a diluted liquid fertiliser a couple of times during the following  week.

Protect the seeds and seedlings from blackbirds and snails and slugs

The first squashes can usually be harvested in about twelve  weeks.  They are ready to harvest when the skin hardens up and begins to turn a darker colour, though like all pumpkins and squashes the more mature they are the better they taste.

culinary uses
Can be used in place of pumpkin in any dish that has pumpkin as an ingredient.