Zucchetta Serpente di Sicilia - Serpent of Sicily. Sometimes called cucuzze or gagootza. It is actually a gourd (it has white flowers rather than yellow like squash), but is grown and eaten like a summer squash. Much favored by people from Southern Italy. Fruit can grow up to three feet long, but tastes best when picked young, no more than 12 inches. Vigorous grower with long vines so leave plenty of room. Vines can easily run 25 feet; does well on a terrace or pergola. Pinch the growing tips of the vines and saute them in olive oil; they are very tasty that way.
Zucchetta is a hot weather crop, so don't plant before the soil has warmed. Because the seeds are so hard, germination can take as long as four to six weeks. To speed germination, scarify the seeds before planting: The easiest way to scarify is to rub the seeds on coarse sand paper, just enough to weaken the seed coat without damaging the interior part of the seed. Then soak the seeds for 24 hours to further soften the seed coat. Click here for more details on scarification.
Plant seeds in hills about six feet apart, four seeds per hill and thin to two or three plants. Germination of scarified seeds occurs in about 10-14 days. About 70-75 days from germination until fruiting. 6 gram packet; approximately 30-40 seeds.
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