(Cucurbita ficifolia); aka Black seeded Squash, Cidra, Fig Leaf Gourd, Shark Fin Melon, Malabar Gourd; Minimum 20 seeds
Yay! Another long-term storage squash I don't have to hand-pollinate as it belongs to a botanical group distinct from the four types generally grown. Native to the Americas, Pastella doesn't regularly appear in a homestead garden, though its offerings are many. In addition to the fruits, Pastella's shoots, leaves, and flowers are edible. Its nutritious black seeds are often used in Mexico to make palanquetas, a delight similar to peanut brittle. Immature fruits can be eaten as a summer squash but it is well worth waiting for mature ones. Many a culinary treat is made with Pastella's white, sweet flesh, from the Spanish confection cabello de ángel to jam to a sweet and sometimes alcoholic drink. Interestingly though, this squash, known for its high inositol content, is used to manage diabetes across Asia.
Sprawling vines with their distinctive fig-leafed foliage would trellis well and produce an average of 3-5 uniform fruits per vine. Due to a high probability Pastella is the only C. ficifolia grown around, it's a good candidate for that harder to access place in your garden since you won't have to visit its flowers to hand-pollinate for seed purity.
What really impressed us to try this squash is the reference to its prolonged storage time which lead to its inclusion as animal fodder on the long distance ship voyages of the past. Factor in the growth characteristics of low-to-no maintenance and high productivity, what's not to love about Pastella? This new pantry staple is good for us and for our poultry!