The Long Island Seed Project
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- Long Green Trailing and Table Dainty
- Tatume Squash and Gem Squash
From Great Britain A Vining Zucchini
You can see by the size of this young vining zucchini
which has sprawled up and over a snow fence that the fruit will become
massive. The vines of this British squash are similar to vines of
It's getting much more difficult to find vining zucchini (the true pepo
species). They were popular in England and New Zealand at one time but
can still be found in the seed trade if you look hard enough.
"Table Dainty" (there's really nothing dainty about this striped
squash) and "Long Green Trailing" (photo above) grow to the size of a
small zeppelin. And the British like to raise giant exhibition
vegetables. The fruit of these "marrows" are used at a stage a bit
larger than we tend to use zucchini since they are most often stuffed
and baked, but both varieties can be used to produce smaller tender
zucchini. Long Green Trailing in recent years has lost it's
stripes as you can see in the above photo. Even the color photo
on the British seed packet shows the variation I knew from the
1970's and the two different English companies I managed to get seed from sell
the same non-stripe variety undoubtedly from the same supplier.
I like the new Long Green Trailing a lot but I liked
the old one better. Table Dainty has it's admirers too. Both
climb up and over my old tractor, cover
weeds and small trees with it's ever branching stems like Kudzu with a
vigor that I admire; and where the vine contacts the earth, they anchor
themselves with new adventitious roots and sprawl onward with reckless
abandon. That's why I've pollinated so many of their fruits with
my favorite and
most productive bush zucchini to increase the diversity of these great
old vining zucchini. Interesting to note, the F1 generation from
crosses all produced the bush habit of the male pollinators and a
variation in fruit including a striped kind similar to the old Long
Green Trailing I remember from a cross of Long
Green Trailing and Romanesco. While interesting, I didn't have
the time to grow the F2 generation yet, but I anticipate that bush and
vining kinds will appear in that generation when I finally get around
to getting the F2 seed in the ground.
Tatume Summer Squash and Little Gem
Another vining pepo squash which is getting difficult to find is a
favorite in Mexico and in the southwest U.S., "Tatume". Seeds over 10
years old from
the old Long Island Seed Bank germinated and produced a small crop of
small green oval pumpkin-like fruit (shown below). These vines, unlike
Long Green Trailing
are thin and delicate; and the leaves are too. Adapted to an arid
climate, it forms roots at it's nodes like most squash vines that
sprawl over the ground struggling to both find and conserve moisture.
This is one admirable squash.
I would like to think that these vining squash will have a role
in regions of the world where soil fertility and limited water
resources make a nice edible squash that can glean what is necessary to
sustain itself from over a large area a useful food plant. In addition,
some of these vining squash offer a shade canopy from the baking sun
for creating a better environment for the survival of seedlings of
other food plants.
Tatume has it's origins in Mexico where the tough vines can bear
multitude of small pumpkin-like summer squash under harsh conditions.
It is more drought tolerant than your average bush zucchini but when
the oval, light green squash are harvested the size of a tennis ball
they are delicious. Recently, I've been hearing a lot from
gardeners (Texas and Florida) singing the praises of Tatume. For
flavor and texture they like it, but more than that they see it as a
survivor. Bush zucchini just don't last. When disease or
cause other summer squash to cease production, Tatume comes
I used Tatume as the female parent and crossed a number of bush
zucchini to it. In the above photo you can see that the hybrid F1
generation looks quite similar to your usual bush zucchini. One
can tell the caserta and romanesco parentage of the striped fruit
(courtesy of the Cornell PM breeding material), the black zucchini and
white zucchini male parents are also obvious in the dark green and pale
green fruit. All with the Tatume female parent. As far as
plant habit, like my other vine x bush crosses, they are also bush
habit in the F1 generation. None of the frugal, tough, wirey
vines that Tatume is known for is apparent in these crosses.
We'll see if these beautiful Tatume "daughters" have the resiliance of
their parent in this and the next generations.
Another vine zucchini that we worked with in the summer of 2006
was the Gem Squash also known as
"Little Gem" or "Gem Store", a dark solid green perfectly
round little ball from South
Africa. They should be harvested when golf ball size if you use them as
a summer squash when the skin is tender and keep them picked young, they will just keep on coming as the vines branch and keep
spreading. A single plant can spread over several square meters. The internet will help you find links to the proper South
African way to prepare these little squash as a supper time feast. Like
Tatume they are arid squash and do rather well with limited resources.
While tatume will turn a streaked orange as it ripens in fall (for
seed), Little Gem never gets much larger than a tennis ball and will
remain dark green. When mature the Gem Squash develops a hard shell and stores well. They can be treated like an acorn squash at that point. They make an interesting decorative fall
squash. A recent maxima squash was just released by the industry
last year called "Little Gem", a bit confusing...and not the same
squash as this C. pepo type.
more to come about this exceptional prolific squash with a unique
Last Modified: June, 2007