An enterprising, hard working gardener at the St Gregory Garden shares her recent success in growing a “new” variety of summer squash called Papaya Pear. It’s a ball-shaped yellow fruited plant that is prolific and tasty.
Vesey’s Seeds catalog has this to say about it. “Bright yellow fruit of this hybrid adds great color to stir-fries and is delicious when sauteed. Best when harvested at about 3″ Papaya Pear is a semi-bush plant which will bear an abundance of fruit if kept picked. About 45 days to first harvest from seed”. As it turns out this is a true introduction of what happened. No hyperbole.
Yellow-colored fruit lets you easily see how quickly they are growing. Green zucchinis, for example, can grow too big very quickly and this is important if you follow the European preference for harvesting small tender fruit with the dead flower still attached. An upright growth habit takes up less space in a small crowded plot and it is supposed to avoid the Squash Vine Borer that seems to more often attack a trailing stem lying on the ground. A maturity first harvest after 45 days is indeed a fast rate–(zucchini is a little slower).
Squashes prefer warm soil and that often takes place in Tucson at the end of April, especially if you warm the soil before sowing by covering it with clear plastic sheeting for a few days. Squash seeds will germinate very quickly until the soil cools down in October, and this in itself gives us a strategy to avoid the damage caused by Squash Vine Borer. Because of the upright growth of Papaya Pear allowing efficient space utilization you can follow this program. Sow the first seeds at the end of April and when that plant starts producing fruit sow again. When you sow a third set of seeds pull up the first sowed plant. Carry on to the end of the season sowing seed when the previous “two-steps away” plant seems to losing its vigor. You can’t do this with vining type plants because they require so much room.
You have plenty of time to try this squash variety if you have space in your plot. How about using the space after you’ve pulled up your onions?