One of the most widely celebrated April fool’s jokes of all time was a story broadcast in 1957 on the highly respected BBC current affairs show ‘Panorama’ about the annual spaghetti tree harvest. The TV segment showed a Swiss family supposedly harvesting spaghetti from their own trees. The segment is now available to watch on YouTube (see below).
The joke fooled many and lots of viewers are said to have contacted the BBC for details on how to grow a spaghetti tree. While spaghetti is normally made from wheat flour and water mixed with egg, the ‘Panorama’ segment wasn’t completely barking up the wrong tree. It is possible to grow your own spaghetti on a vine, if not a tree.
The spaghetti squash is grown much like a cucumber and is closely related to zucchini. The vigorous vine produces large cylindrical fruit, which ripen to bright yellow.
When it is cooked (either baked, boiled or microwaved whole) the flesh can be scooped out in strings that resemble cooked strands of spaghetti. Serve with your favourite pasta sauce! Vegetable spaghetti is high in nutrients and low in calories.
Planting and growing
Plant the seeds of spaghetti squash in spring when the soil has warmed and all threat of frost has passed. Plant the seeds directly into a prepared a vegetable bed or plant into a large container (at least 40cm across or larger). As the vine sprawls much like a zucchini, space seeds at 1-1.2m apart so the vine has room to grow.
Like all cucurbits, spaghetti squash has both male and female flowers with the female flowers producing fruit. The vine takes around 15 weeks to produce mature fruit.
Harvest the large fruits that have turned bright yellow. Cut the fruit from the vine leaving a piece of stem attached. Kept watered, the vine should continue producing until the first winter frost. Plants may be attacked by powdery mildew towards the end of the growing season.
The fruit is also available occasionally in the fruit shop and keeps well wrapped in plastic and stored in the crisper section of the fridge.
Seeds are available online from Greenharvest (greenharvest.com.au).