Tatume is a variety of the species Cucurbita pepo. Regarding its shape, it is common to find oblate or round tatume squashes. The skin is green with stripes. An immature tatume squash resembles a small watermelon. A natural characteristic of a tatume squash is its long vines from which you can regularly see many edible flowers as delicious as the squash itself.
Tatume Squash Trivia
- Some people call tatume squash “calabacita”.
- There are two kinds of squashes: winter squash and summer squash. Tatume squash is both since it can be harvested as either winter squash or summer squash.
- Bees love the flowers of tatume squash!
Tatume Squash Buying Guide
The size of a tatume squash will give you an idea if it is immature or close to being ripe, or if it is already mature. An immature tatume squash is the size of a baseball. If it becomes bigger than that – say, the size of a soccer ball, then it is definitely mature. A mottled skin and a deep green color also indicate that the tatume squash is already mature. A mature tatume squash will have a diameter of six to eight inches. The green skin of young tatume will turn golden yellow once matured.
If you are buying seeds, one of the challenges is finding a seed store that has them. It is not commonly available compared to other types or varieties of squash. If you see seeds with names such as Tatuma, round zucchini, or Mexican zucchini, these are tatume squash seeds also.
Tatume Squash Production & Farming in Texas
According to Texas A&M, the tatume squash is perfect to grow in Texas because it grows well in hot climates and thrives on feeding on direct sunlight. It is grown in many different places in Texas like San Antonio. Tatume squash is drought and heat tolerant.
If you are planning on growing tatume squash, make sure to prepare for long vines and have the necessary support system installed and ready for the plant to use, because tatume squash vines can grow up to 12 inches long. It wants to grow and continue growing and produce many squashes, something more than enough for your household to consume. As with other squash, make sure the danger of frost has passed before you start planting and the ground is warm enough to be amenable for growing squash. Make sure the pH of the soil is between 5.5 to 6.8 for optimal growth and yield.
If you are in Central Texas, the ideal time to plant is the second week of March. Make sure that you do deep watering twice a week.
Pro tip: if you grow them correctly and with proper guidance, the tatume squash vines can provide a canopy and the shade is perfect for picnics.
Like any squash, tatume is not without its pest problem. But the squash borer, a common problem for squash plants, is not a problem for the tatume squash, which has proven that it is resistant to this kind of pest. Still, it can be the target of pests, and the use of pesticides may be a necessity.
- Aphids – Kill aphids using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control.
- Cucumber Beetles – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl or Beauveria bassiana is the solution to rid of flea beetles.
- Cutworms – Pesticides such as carbaryl will kill cutworms attacking your spearmint. Pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin and the insecticide permethrin are also useful for this purpose.
- Leafminers – Use spinosad against leafminers.
- Spider mites – To get rid of spider mites, use neem oil and apply it through foliar spraying. It contains azadirachtin which is effective against spider mites. You can also use horticultural oil (which also targets aphids and thrips). Pests die after exposure to horticultural oil due to suffocation since the oil blocks the spiracles through which insects breathe. Another effect of horticultural oils is disrupting the metabolism of insect eggs. Lastly, horticultural oils disrupt the insect’s ability to feed. As a result, the insect starves to death. Using pyrethrin spray is also an effective method against spider mites. Another option is spinosad, a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D typically used to control a wide variety of pests.
- Squash bugs – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to rid of squash bugs.
- Thrips – To kill thrips, there is a wide array of options to choose from: horticultural oil, insecticidal soap, anti-parasite spray spinosad, or pyrethrin pesticides with piperonyl butoxide.
Tatume squash is a hardy, open-pollinated native of Mexico and Central and South America. It is an heirloom and is not grown commercially. But it is grown in many parts of the US and the world. It is common to find growers in squash-growing areas in the US like California, Florida, Georgia, and Michigan to find tatume squash grown in backyard lots. Although the supply of seeds may not be abundant, it is not surprising to find tatume squash in countries that produce squash, like China, India, Ukraine, Russia, Spain, Turkey, Italy, and Indonesia.
It is not common to find tatume squashes sold in a commercial point-of-sale location. If there are tatume squashes sold there, expect them to be sold without any type of packaging, primarily because their thick skin and rind already provide it with a layer of protection, keeping the flesh inside safe from any potential contamination while out on display. In some supermarkets or groceries, they cover squashes with plastic wrap.
Enjoying Tatume Squashes
Tatume squash is flavorful and firm. The kitchen of Mexican cooks is no stranger to using tatume in cooking. Tatume squash is an excellent substitute for many different kinds of squash used in cooking. It is good for frying, boiling, grilling, and baking. You can use it when you are making a casserole. You can also cook and eat the flowers of the tatume squash plant.
Young tatume squash will keep for two weeks in cool storage away from direct sunlight. Ripe or mature tatume squash will keep for six months in the same storage condition.
There are a lot of ways to cook tatume squash. You can pan-fry it with onions. Steamed tatume is best served with butter, or you can shred tatume squash and use it as an ingredient for baking bread or muffins, or mash them if you want to use them to make pies. The seeds of tatume squash can be roasted and eaten, and it is a nutritious snack too!
Tatume squash is cholesterol-free. It is good for your heart, pancreas, and blood glucose level. Eating tatume squash means your body gets its much-needed vitamin A, which is good for the skin and eyesight and it helps the body fight cancer. Tatume squash also packs vitamin C, as well as a good amount of potassium, manganese, vitamin E, vitamin B, vitamin B6, thiamin, niacin, folate, calcium, magnesium, riboflavin, niacin, and thiamin.