Growing Heirloom Squash: Tatume Squash Information

By Liz Baessler | November 22, 2018
Image by graibeard
by Liz Baessler
November 22, 2018

Native to Mexico, the Tatume squash is a little known heirloom vegetable that deserves a lot more attention. It’s a staple in Mexican cooking, and can also sometimes be found in Texas, but in the wide world beyond it is mostly overlooked. (With so many varieties of squash out there, it’s easy to lose track)

Tatume Squash History

Tatume squash is a variety of Cucurbita pepo, the species that makes up most of the squash we know and love. These squash plants are mostly native to Central and South America, where they were domesticated as long as 10,000 years ago. The Tatume squash hasn’t traveled much farther than its birthplace.

Part of Tatume’s problem is that it goes by some many different names. It can also frequently be found being sold as Tatuma, Calabacita, Round Zucchini, and Mexican Zucchini. Another problem is that it’s an open pollinated heirloom and not carried by a lot of seed sellers or nurseries. If you can manage to track it down, though, it’s well worth the trouble.

Tatume Squash Information

While many more commercial squashes grow in a bushing habit, Tatume squash is a very vigorous vine that can reach 12 feet (3.6 m.) in length and will take over a garden plot if left to its own devices. It produces a large number of round, green to yellow fruits. These fruits are best when picked at just 3 inches (8 cm.) long. They can be cooked in a way similar to zucchini, though their flavor is said to be richer and their flesh firmer.

The vines are very tolerant of heat, standing up to even the hottest Texan and Mexican summers. They are also renowned for their resistance to squash borers, the pests that are known to devastate squash crops. Not all gardeners report success in this area, but if your garden is especially prone to squash borers, it can’t hurt to try your hand at this interesting and really tasty heirloom variety.

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  • Eloy S Armstrong
    Comment added May 27, 2020Reply

    Concerning the Tatume Squash, what part of the plant does the fruit grow from. We have long vines of the squash but no fruit. It puts out like these 8" stems with a flower on the end of it, but never puts on fruit. The flower just dies, not to mention, that long stem couldn't hold the weight of a squash. This has got us bewildered. Hope you can help.

    • Karen
      Comment added July 18, 2020Reply

      I planted this squash after our last frost date (zone 7). I'm just now getting my first squash. I, too, have seen plenty of blooms but little fruiting. For me, it isn't a lack of pollinators, but I think my watering schedule (in the morning when bees are about) is the issue. If the female flowers aren't pollinated completely, the fruit will simply shrivel. Overhead watering may wash away the pollen and contribute to the problem of fewer fruits. You could try hand pollinating, but I have difficulty distinguishing male flowers from female. Good luck!

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