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Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Posted by okiedawn Z7 OK (My Page) on
Fri, Jan 23, 09 at 15:46

Kim and I have been discussing Pumpkins on a different thread about watermelon and, fearing we'd never find the discussion again using the 'search' feature, I came here to start a new thread that would be searchable by subject.

For Kim, and anyone else who's interested, here's an introduction to the squash family.

Winter Squash and Pumpkins are both closely related. In fact, they are both Cucurbitas. The Cucurbita family is large and diverse.

CUCURBITA MAXIMA:

This is a huge family of winter squashes, including these sub-types: buttercup, Australian blue, banana, mammoth, hubbard, turban, zapalito and a few unclassified ones that are lumped in a miscellaneous group.

Buttercup squash usually has bright orange, sweet flesh. They are terrific baked and can be substituted in virtually any sweet potato recipe, including recipes for Sweet Potato Pie. People in northern parts of the USA where it is too cold and the growing season is too short for sweet potatoes can grow buttercup squash as a sweet potato substitute. There are many, many named buttercup squashes, both heirloom OP and hybrid forms.

Australian Blue squashes have pale greenish-bluish-whitish skins and most have bright orange flesh. Most have a very meaty, sweet flesh with no space lost to large seed cavities. These tend to have a very long shelf life under proper storage conditions. A couple of them you might find seed for include Jarrahdale, Queensland Blue and Triamble. The older O-P ones take up a lot of garden space, but there are some new hybrids or O-P selections that have been "sized down" to give you smaller vines and smaller fruit. I think Baby Blue is one of those.

Zapallito squash have very short running vines or bushy plants that produce small fruit. They are rare and I don't know anyone who grows them, although I am sure seed is available for some of them. The best-known one is probably Gold Nugget, which was an AAS selection in the 1960s and for which seed can still be found.

Banana squashes are not seen as often, although sometimes you'll find seed for Blue Banana or Pink Banana on seed racks. Banana squashes are elongated in size and often get huge. They have great taste and texture. Among the O-P varieties for which seed is commonly found are Sibley, Pink Banana and Blue Banana.

Mammoth squash are the gigantic exhibition types often raised for pumpkin-growing contests, and they require massive amounts of soil, space and water to reach their large sizes. These include the famous Atlantic Giant and Week's North Carolina Giant. They have poor quality flesh not suitable for eating.

Hubbard Squashes come in an amazing array of colors, sizes and shapes. Most of them are suitable for eating but they are also great as decorative items. One of my favorites is called Victor, but I like its' common name: "Red Warty Thing". There are many, many named varieties of Hubbard Squash, including Golden Hubbard and Blue Hubbard.

Turban Squashes can be grown and used as table veggies or as decorative ones. Turk's Turban is the one seen most often in grocery stores, but my favorite is an old O-P variety from South American by way of Italy called Marina di Chioggia. It is green-skinned and warty and has fabulous flavor. I have stored Turk's Turban squash for up to a year in my garage in a dry year, although they don't last as long in garage-storage in a more humid and rainy year. They do store a long,long time in a root cellar or underground tornado shelter.

The miscellaneous squashes within the maxima group are those that do not fit into any other category. Some of my favorite "pumpkins" fall into this group of maximas. The classic French pumpkin, Rogue Vif d'Etampes, falls into this category as does the Fortna white 'pumpkin', Lumina (my favorite white 'pumpkin'), and Galeuse e'Eysines, a lovely pale orange warty one and one of the first heirloom O-P winter squashes I ever grew.

CUCURBITA PEPO:

These are the squashes we all generally think of as "pumpkins" and the pepo family is huge. Some of them have flesh very suitable for eating, some are raised just for their seeds, some are just for decorative purposes, i.e. as Halloween Pumpkins. However, summer squash like the crookneck, straightneck and zucchini ones we eat and often grow are in the Pepo family too.

Pumpkins that are in the subspecies pepo include Lady Godiva (grown for seed, not flesh), Howden (grown for jack-o-lanterns), Connecticut Field (grown for jack-o-lanterns, and once-upon-a-time for cattle feed), and Ronde de Nice, often incorrectly referred to as a round zucchini, although it is technically a pumpkin. (See how confusing it can be.) Of this group, one of my favorites for pie is Winter Luxury Pie which makes a pumpkin pie that is "to die for".

Pepo also includes acorn squash, like Table Queen, Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato (a squash, not a sweet potato in spite of its name), and Delicata types like Delicata, Bush Delicata, and Sweet Dumpling.

Scallop squash are pepos too, including white bush scallop, yellow bush scallop and Benning's Green Tint. And, of course, also in the pepo subspecies are Yellow Straightneck, Yellow Crookneck, Goldem Zucchini, Black Beauty Zucchini and all the Cocozelle types like Costata Romanesco and Lunga di Toscana.

If you like to grow ornamental gourds, they all are in the pepo subspecies too. There are gazillions of kinds of ornamental gourds available, in all sizes and shapes from egg-sized to bushel-basket sized. These include: Egg or Nest Egg, Bi-Color Pear, Bi-Color Spoon, Shenot Crown of Thorns, and all the warty ones too. And, don't forget birdhouse gourds.

CUCURBITA MOSCHATA:

These are the members of the squash family that simply thrive in hot, miserable weather....and it seems the more miserable and hot the weather, the happier they are. Most do not look like the standard orange-skinned pumpkin, but more often have a buff-colored skin and a more oblate shape--these are commonly called cheese pumpkins because of their resemblance to a large wheel of cheese. The neck pumpkins, of which the cushaws are perhaps the best-known are in this group, and so are the Japonicas, which have a very unusual very dark green to blue-black skin. Tropical pumpkins are moschatas too. Crookneck cushaws are a large part of the moschatas. They include Neck Pumpkin, Golden Cushaw, and the lovely Sucrine du Berry.

The cheese pumpkins are the moschatas that grow second best for me here in hot, droughty southern Oklahoma (although the cushaws grow quite well here too). These include Long Island Cheese and Musquee' de Provence.

The moschata group of tropical pumpkins thrive in my southern OK climate most years and grow better for me than any other moschata, except in the coldest, wettest summers. Of them, Seminole grows best and gives me a crop no matter the weather. They are very vigorous and the vines creep and crawl along in the pathways, from row to row, over and among corn plants and tomato cages, etc. Their flavor is excellent. In my garden, Seminole will not die until a very hard frost kills the vines, and you can't kill it by neglect OR by overwatering. It is the first tropical pumpkin I've ever grown, and so far the only--I won't even try another, because I think it is the best.

Japonicas are the oddballs of the squash family, at least in my mind, and that is saying a lot because it is a large and very diverse family. My favorite Japonica is Black Futtsu, which is so small that I grow it on the fence that surrounds the garden. At their largest, the Futtsu get about 2.5 to 3.5 lbs. They have a dark blue-black skin at one point in their growth cycle, although they slowly mature to a very dark umber. They also get sort of shrunken and wrinkly looking. Both Yokohama and Toonas Makino have similar skin color, both keep their darkness as they partially ripen to umber. Toonas Makino has a very odd shape, sort of an hourglass kind of shape.

CUCURBITA ARGYROSPERMA:

The last ones are Cucurbita Argyrosperma and I don't grow many of them. They are grown mostly for their seed, but sometimes just as autumn decorative items too. They include Cochita Pueblo, which is very decorative, green-striped cushaw, also a decorative one that gets huge and took over my entire garden, and Tennessee Sweet Potato, which is quite lovely but totally inedible.

So, Kim, that's probably more than you ever wanted to know about the squash family. I grow summer squash for eating, winter squash for eating (esp. in pumpkin pies) and for decorative purposes, pumpkins--mostly for decoration because many aren't worth eating, and gourds for decorative purposes. In an average year, when rain is falling and we are not in the midst of a moderate to severe (or worst, exceptional) drough, I'll grown 10 to 20 kinds of winter and summer squash, pumpkins and gourds. In an abnormally dry year, I'll only grow a couple because they are huge water guzzlers. I like to plant them on the edges of my garden, where they only have a relatively small space within the fenced-in civilized garden, and are allowed to creep and crawl wherever they choose, both within the fenced-in garden and outside the fence and even up the fence and up the surrounding trees. Pumpkin and squash plants will go where they wish and grow as they want, and they do best if I just let them have their own way. (I do try to keep them from climbing the tomato cages, but sometimes they are more determined than I am, and I lose that battle.)

They all take up a lot of space, and most cannot be grown well or easily in containers, except for the mini-pumpkins like Jack-B-Little, Wee-B-Little, Baby Boo, Baby Pam, Cheyenne Bush or, maybe, some of the modern bush-type hybrids. I don't grow many hybrids though. Some people grow pumpkins in kids' plastic wading pools in which multiple drainage holes have been punched. Of course, it takes a lot of soil/compost/manure/pine bark fines to fill up a wading pool.

And, if I was going to grow any winter squash or pumpkin in a container, I'd make the container no smaller than the size of a half-whiskey barrel and I'd know it was likely to need water daily. If the temps are breaking 100, it may need water twice a day in the hottest parts of July and August.

I hope this info helps a little.

If you fall in love with the squash family, you simply must read Amy Goldman's book "THE COMPLEAT SQUASH: A Passionate Grower's Guide to Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds". It is the best book ever on this veggie family and has incredibly lovely photos and a wealth of information, including lots of info on how-to-grow them, and even a few recipes.
I already grew a lot of heirloom and O-P gourds, squash and pumpkins before I read Amy's book, but I learned about a million more kinds while reading/enjoying her work of art.

Dawn


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn,
I saw on another post that someone said you should write a book...um...I think you already have a good start. :) I really appreciate that you took the time to share all of this information. I've learned more in this one post than in most of the books I've read. Now you have my wheels turning. We have a bare strip of grass that runs along the side of the house and our neighbor's low hedge. I'm considering planting a pumpkin or two in my raised bed and gently guiding it down that area. That would open up more options for me when it comes to pumpkins. It's just been too hard to find a bush one that is good for eating and carving. You mentioned Winter Luxury Pie as being good for...pies. I also like the look of it, that it's old, and open-pollinated. Do you, or anyone else, have an idea of how long their vines get? I tried to do a quick search regarding that with no success. It's not crucial though if I let them roam by the house. Mostly I'm just curious.

Kim


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Kim,

Well, I've never measured the vines, but they get really, really long. If I had to guess, I'd say 8' to 12' (depending on rainfall) or longer, but there are many pumpkins just as vigorous or much more vigorous. In my garden, Seminole is one that gets much longer. In our long, hot, growing season, pumpkins just go nuts. (At least they do if you can keep the squash bugs and foliar diseases from getting them.)

It is almost impossible to find accurate descriptions of the length of pumpkin and winter squash vines (and watermelon as well, although the bush ones are easy to measure). How well any given pumpkin or winter squash will grow depends on a million different factors, and those factors are different in everyone's yard. If your soil is rich, friable and moist, for example, and you have adequate heat and rainfall, you'll have huge plants. If your soil is extremely sandy and doesn't hold moisture well, the plants won't be as vigorous. If you have thick, mucky unimproved clay that gets very dry and hard in the drier summer months, the plants won't be as vigorous. If you have a very cloudy/rain year like much of OK did in 2004 and again in 2007, the plants won't do as well because they are too wet and have too little sunshine (and most likely disease issues from all the moisture). So, it's all just dependent on the weather and soil.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn - I am a pumpkin, squash, melon nut and grow way to many each year - with the new gardens this year and more space I am looking at having somthing in the area of 4 pumpkins ( amish pie, Maryland pie, little boo, and snow white) 10 or so squash and 10 or so melons - they are my favorite things to grow.


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

They are my faves too, next to tomatoes. The more melons I grow, the more I want to grow. It sort of becomes an obsession. I had my melon-growing obsession sort of under control until I started growing heirloom melons, and then it got all out of control.

My favorite melon lately is an heirloom muskmelon called Pike. We used to always buy and eat Pike melons when I was a kid and they were my dad's favorite. The ones we bought in Texas were grown in west Texas....somewhere near Pecos, I think. My dad always wanted to grow them, but didn't, because our soil in Fort Worth was black clay. After we moved here, though, I found seeds for Pike and grew them, and it turns out they grow very well on clay even though my dad thought they "had to" have sandy soil. The Pike muskmelons I grow might not be quite as tasty when grown here as the ones I remember from my youth, but they are awfully good. I think that Pecos, Texas, has the perfect combination of soil, heat and rainfall (or irrigation) to raise perfect melons.


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Have either of you (or anyone else) ever grown Minnesota Midget melons? I'm thinking of adding one or two of those this year.
Kim


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Kim - never..

Melon wise I have moon and stars, desert king, cream, snow pheniox, el dokki, two honey melons, yellow double sweet, musk, and I am trying not to plant cantalopes...

Maters this year - ummm Sasague cream, Cherokee Purple, Porter, Dr Carolyn, Yellow pear, Grape drops... I am trying to get a green, white, and pinapple type that will grow in Ok any ideas?


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Kim,

I grew it on the fence and it produced small melons (as expected) but they didn't impress me much with their flavor, nor were they terribly productive. Don't get me wrong--it wasn't a melon with bad flavor, just that there are many, many more with better flavor and productivity.

I usually grow heirloom cantaloupe, muskmelons and miscellaneous melons, including:

Crenshaw
Eden's Gem
Green Nutmeg
Delice de la Table
Emerald Gem
Hollybrook Luscious
Early Frame Prescott
Prescott Fond Blanc
Charentais
Schoon's Hardshell
Petit Gris De Rennes
Noir des Carmes
Kansas
Canoe Creek Colossal
Pike
Amarillo Oro
Green Machine
Collective Farm Woman
Old Time Tennessee
Piel de Sapo (toadskin melon)

I've grown many of the hybrids over the years, and while they have a tougher rind thus making them better for shipping, they have less flavor in general because, like many other veggies including tomatoes, they hybrids have been bred more for shipping/shelf life than for flavor.

Okiegarden, Aunt Ruby's German Green, Green Giant and Cherokee Green are all green-when-ripe tomatoes that have grown well in my garden. Aunt Ruby's German Green has the most 'surprising' flavor, as it is a sort of spicy rich flavor you seldom find in a tomato. I don't grow white tomatoes as their flavor is so mild that it is almost nonexistent. Lots of people who grow white tomatoes prefer White Tomesol, though.

When you say you want a pineapple type, I assume you want a bi-color (really a tri-color) so here's a couple that we like: Pineapple, Hawaiian Pineapple, Ananas Noir (Black Pineapple). Other striped/splotched bicolors/tricolors we like include Hillbilly (aka Flame), Georgia Streak and Big Rainbow. Our favorite, though, is Lucky Cross. However, Lucky Cross has been erratic in our garden--producing a lot of tomatoes some years and relatively few in other years. If you want something stipey/splotchy in darker colors, the two great ones are Indian Stripe and Berkley Tie Dye.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn,

I chose Minnesota Midget for its short vines although the description sounded pretty tasty. Did you need to support the fruit as it grew or was it alright on its own? You've grown a lot of melons. I was wondering if any of them had shorter vines. Another one that I found listed with shorter vines was the hybrid Honey Bun. It has larger fruit which was great, but I usually lean towards the open-pollinated alternative if I can't decide.

As for tomatoes, this is going to be my first year at growing heirlooms! I've never tasted one, so I'm really excited about growing my own. I'm going to grow one of each of the following: Cherokee Purple, Black Krim, Stupice, Opalka, and Box Car Willie. The hybrid Celebrity has also found a spot in my garden this year. I can't say how these would do in Oklahoma though. I'm in Pennsylvania. This thread started out as a watermelon thread that got my attention... Anyway, the following season I plan on trying a green tomato. I think it'll be Aunt Ruby's German Green. That one gets mentioned a lot when it comes to good green tomatoes.

I can't wait for Spring. All this talk to growing melons and maters makes me want to plant something...and eat it!
Kim


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Kim,

Minnesota Midget probably is ideal for your climate if you are in Pennsylvania. (My DH grew up in Butler, and still has family in the Pittsburgh and Harrisburg areas.) As for vine length, they all vary, but none of my melons, except maybe Collective Farm Woman and Schoon's Hard Shell, are really large and sprawling.

I grow my melons by planting two side by side, about 1 foot away from each other, and then setting a homemade tomato cage that is 6' tall around them, so they are inside the cage and their vines climb the wire cage and take up very little space on the ground. That's one way I am able to grow so many--by growing them upward. You can grow any melon you want on a tomato cage. Some of mine climb up the cage, and then I let the vines run back down the cage, and if the darn thing still wants to grow some more, then it can grow back upward again.

Even though Minnesota Midget isn't as flavorful (to my tastebuds--and we all have different taste buds) as some of the other heirlooms, it is a great choice for you in your climate--not just because it is compact, but also because it is a short-season melon with a DTM of about 70 days. A couple of heirloom melons that stay fairly compact and also mature pretty quickly would be Early Silverline (75 days), Jenny Lind (80 days, green flesh), Golden Jenny (85 days, salmon-colored flesh) and Early Hanover (75 days). Seeds for all of them are available from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed (www.rareseeds.com).

I hope the heirlooms grow well for you. I grew my first heirloom tomato in the very early 1990s, I think, or maybe the late 1980s, and it changed my gardening life. Of course, some of the ones that we grew in the 1960s in my dad's and uncles' gardens were heirlooms, but we didn't know that then--they were just old favorites. You have a nice line-up of heirloom tomatoes and I have nothing against Celebrity. It has always grown well for me, and the flavor is just fine for a hybrid tomato. It has the added bonus of having outstanding disease resistance and that is important too.

In your climate, one of these years you simply MUST grow Brandywine Sudduth and Brandy Boy. Brandywine Sudduth is simply the best-flavored tomato ever, hands-down, and nothing else even comes close. It is the first heirloom tomato I grew as a young wife and mother in Fort Worth, and its' flavor was so good I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. Unfortunately, it does not produce many fruit per plant in our hot climate, so I don't grow it every single year here. In your climate, though, it is supposed to be a good producer. Brandy Boy, exclusive to Burpee, is a hybrid and they say one of the parents was Brandywine. The flavor of Brandy Boy is oustanding....close enough to Brandywine for folks like me in hot climates that we grow it instead of Brandywine. It also produces many, many more fruit per plant.

I can't wait for Spring either. We had two nice days this week-on one of them the high was 81 (although the low was 20) and on the other one, the high was 74. Now, though, we're cold and cloudy and back in the 20s this morning, although I think the highs will be in the 50s. Still, spring suddenly seems very far away.....and with ice and snow in the forecast for OK, I guess we won't be out working the soil and getting ready to plant anytime soon. (Onions go into the ground in early Feb. here in my part of the state, and one Gardenwebber in the adjacent county planted his onions last week. He's braver than I am.)

I agree that all the garden talk of fresh veggies makes one's tastebuds long for a bite of something--anything--fresh from the garden! Today, I am going to cook some frozen corn (Serendipity) that we grew last year and also am going to rehydrate some sun-dried tomatoes from last summer's garden and throw them into a salad. It won't be the same as having produce fresh from the garden, but it will be close. I freeze the corn within 2 hours of picking it, so it does taste fresh even though it has been frozen.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

81 degrees. 74. I'm so jealous. Today our highs are in the 30s. Lows in the teens. It's supposed to be like that all week. I'm making the best of it. Researching melons, just went to Home Depot and Lowes to look for seeds. I did find 'Scarlet Starlet' marigold I was hoping to get. No luck in the melon or pumpkin search though. I love the idea of growing melons in a tomato cage. I can make room for that! I recently received a copy of the Baker Creek catalog, so I'll have to look through it some more. Golden Jenny was one that stood out the first look through it.

As for tomatoes, Brandy Boy and Brandywine Sudduth will have to go on my list for next season. I chose Celebrity for its great disease resistance. In case my attempt at heirlooms had some sort of problem, they are an insurance policy in a way.

Thanks for the suggestions for melons. I'm going to go look them up right now! Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Kim


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

In recent years the c. mixta group seems to have been re-classified to c. argyrosperma (which I'm not sure I can pronounce!) I believe that most of these do as well in the heat as the c. moschata. But in my opinion, the flesh quality is never as good.

Also, in my experience squash species generally exhibit squash vine borer resistance in the following order:

c. argyrosperma
c. moschata (perhaps these two are tied, I just WANT the moschatas more!)
c. pepo

and bringing up the rear

c. maxima

Here in Tahlequah, I've given up on maximas. I can't get them to mature any fruit at all.

In 1985 we did grow Gold Nugget (c. maxima), in Indiana. It was a VERY tasty little squash.

In Mexico they have a number of tropical moschatas. I have offered one through the Seed Savers Exchanged called "Calabaza Castilla." It too has rampant vines and is extremely insect resistant. But from what I read of Seminole, it is not as well adapted to our latitude. Seminole would be a better choice, in my opinion.

A Seed Savers Exchange in Norman recently commented to me that he had grown Choctaw Sweet Potato, another c. moschata. He does a lot of grow outs and, according to him, that was the best adapted squash, for Oklahoma conditions, that he's ever seen. I'm disciplining myself not to try to get any seed, as I have two strains of Warsaw Buff Pie Pumpkin to maintain. Don't need to take up any more space with squash!

Sandhill Preservation Center sells seed for Scarchuks Supreme, a mottled green and white acorn squash (c. pepo), which exhibits an unusual amount of resistance to borers. I've tried it and can highly recommend it.

George


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

George,

Thanks for mentioning squash vine borer resistance. I completely forgot to mention it. I know that SVBs are a huge problem for some gardeners, but here at our house, they are cyclical and I only have a real big problem with them about 1 year out of 3. (The problem is that when you plant, you never know in advance if it is going to be a big SVB year or not.) Squash bugs are a more consistent problem here...probably a big problem 8 years out of 10.

I have to tell you about the argyrosperma/mixta thing. First, I did really well and got it right as argyrosperma, which is normally hard for me because I learned them as "mixta", right? So, just when I was falling asleep on the night after I started that thread, this thought starting running through my head....."You forget to mention all the Mixta group....you forgot Mixta....you forgot Mixta." I promised myself that I'd go online first thing in the morning and "add Mixta". Then, when I woke up the next morning, that thought was still in my head and then, out of the blue, I snapped out of it and said "Mixta doesn't exist anymore, dummy!" It is so very hard for me to learn new names when they rename stuff. For some reason, I can remember the former name so much better than the current one.

Some years I have a really hard time with the moschata group, and some years I don't. For me, the issue usually is disease during humid summers, although sometimes it is SVBs.

I love my Seminoles. I used to always grow Amish Pie and New England Pie, but then I grew Seminole and Luxury Winter Pie and that was it for me! I do love growing the white pumpkins too (it must be the contrarian in me). My favorite white is Valenciano, but I like Lumina and Casper too. Some years, my white pumpkin skins have a decided green tint to them and I don't remember why that happens. (Maybe it's my eyes.....they aren't getting any younger.)

Dawn


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RE: Kim, It's Getting Colder Now

Kim,

I'm kinda of shocked y'all have seeds in the stores already, because most of our stores have gotten their seeds only during the last couple of weeks, and we're in a much warmer part of the country.

The two nice days were wonderful while they lasted, but they're over now and cold weather and sleet/freezing rain/ice are in the forecast for the next 3 days. I'd rather have snow or rain, but we get what we get.

This winter our weather has been less consistent than it is most winters, so lots of ups into the 60s-80s and lots of downs into the teens-twenties. No matter what the weather does on any given day here, the odds are that it will change in a day or two. Still, when you're having the occasional warm day, it makes the cold ones more bearable.

Stay warm!

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn, I suspect the problem with remembering "c. arg&#@s^erma" has to do with both spelling and pronunciation. If I can't say it, I usually can't spell it. If I can't spell it, I can't remember it! I think I figured out how to spell it now. "Ar-gyro-sperma:" I can make up a memory device for that.

George


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn,
Our seeds became available in Lowes and Home Depot about two weeks ago. A little earlier than last year if I recall correctly. Usually they don't get displayed until February. Walmart and the grocery store haven't put theirs out yet though.
Kim


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

George,

I think you're right. I haven't even tried saying it out loud yet, and in my mind, they are still (and always will be, I suspect) mixta.

Kim,

So, your seeds hit the stores about the same time ours did. That's interesting, considering the difference in our growing seasons. : )

Our Wal-Mart has some of the seeds in now...they just arrived about last Tues. or Wed., but not their big, standard displays yet. Just some Ferry-Morse and other minor seed lines so far.

I noticed that the Burpee seeds available here in Lowe's are ones I am more familiar with but the Burpee seeds available here in Home Depot are much less familiar, and I am wondering if some creative naming or re-naming has been done so that Burpee seeds (alike, yet different, you know) can be sold at both the major big box home center stores. It seems odd.

Cold and icky here today. Thirty-four degrees and drizzle which, oddly enough, beats 80 degrees and drought. (We're in a pretty bad drought here in southern OK.) I'd love snow, which is pretty rare in our county. Unfortunately, ice in the form of sleet and freezing rain, drizzle and freezing/frozen fog are what we usually get and they are not as pretty as snow....and much more dangerous on the roadways.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn -

Aunt Ruby's German Green, Green Giant and Cherokee Green - I have heard Aunt Ruby's is the way to go and it is easy to find seed from Baker Creek.. I love the way you have it listed here...
White are more for sauce making for me... I had some wonderful white sauce and just have to give it a try.. I dont like the lack of flavor - so this just might not make it then... will have to think about it.

Pineapple - way way way back in the day my greatgrandfather had a tomato he called pineapple - it was bicolor and tasted really sweet and acid much like an good fresh pineapple would... sadly no one in the family keep seeds and I am still on the quest - any ideas on what this one might have been? I know it just might have been lost for good but one can still hope.

Where do you order your melon seeds from? Nutmeg Melon always tempted me but I was never one for ordering a melon with out hearing good things from others first.

Mitch


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

As of now the Home Depot selection is much better. A lot of popular and newer varieties are displayed. Mostly Burpee and Ferry Morse. Lowes only has a few Burpee seeds of the more common varieties so far. Kmart even had a strong selection of Burpee seeds out about 2 weeks ago. I guess no matter where you are the stores all start displaying the seeds around the same time. I'm glad they start early. Despite the highs in the 20s or 30s and lows in the teens, it gives me time to research my choices before buying something.
Kim


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Mitch,

If your grandfather grew a pineapple-type bicolor back in the day, then he probably grew the one we know today as "Pineapple". It is an old heirloom that's been traced back to the Ohio area, and may have originated in Germany or in seeds brought from Germany to the USA.

There are many bi-colors similar to Pineapple and they all have a very sweet, fruity flavor. Most years, they are quite flavorful but they, more than many others, tend to get a "watered-down" flavor in times of high rainfall. Other similar tomatoes include Hillbilly and Big Rainbow. Big Rainbow was the first heirloom bicolor I ever grew, but I like the flavor of Royal Hillbilly (from Baker Creek) best of all.

Tomato Growers Supply has a whole section of bicolors, but I don't think any of the newer ones, like Copia or Green Zebra or whatever, are as flavorful as Big Rainbow, Pineapple or Lucky Cross.

I get melon seeds from everywhere...Seed Savers Exchange, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Victory Seed, Pinetree Garden Seeds, Seeds of Change and Baker Creek. I have grown plenty of hybrid melons that have disappointed me flavorwise, but I have never been disappointed in the flavor of an heirloom melon.

Kim,

I've almost stopped buying seeds anywhere except online. One reason is that I want specific O-P and heirloom varieties that most stores don't carry.

Also, I've noticed that our local Wal-mart and Home Depot often put their seed racks OUTSIDE in the fenced-in plant section when they first arrive, although they often move them inside after several weeks. Personally, I don't want seeds that have been exposed to the outdoor temperature and humidity like that because it can affect their germination rate.

I will pick up flowers seeds off the racks inside the stores IF I never saw those racks sitting outside.

Uh-oh. It is starting to rain right now and the temperature is 32 degrees. If all of us Okie Gardenwebbers drop out of sight for a few days, you'll know the ice storm brought down the power lines.

Why is it that when we want spring the most, we get winter instead?

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Will look for Pineapple - it was such a wonderful tomato... and it loved the bad soil full of rocks and heat - just perfect for OK!

Melons... going to have to start shopping again... I only only only grow heirloom veggies, IMHO they taste better, grow better and you can if you have extra make good money selling a few - so very few folks in Dallas area even know what they where! Going to have to look them up - I try to save all the seed I can so I dont have to buy much and when I do I try to find things that I have read or seen will do good here. I have bought or raised to many things that did not like it here but loved where they came from... really sad. I am going to try soybeans this year - I got them from an older gentleman in town - he claimed they raised them here for over 50 years at least from the end of WW2... so I will see that would be an asain heirloom right? Maybe...

Off to adventures in gardening... there is just so much to get ready for spring... I needeeedeeedddddddd spring!


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Mitch,

I assume they'd be an Asian heirloom.

I hope your garden is fenced because the cottontail rabbits commonly found all over rural and semi-rural Oklahoma really like beans.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

It is fenced.. and there is a dog but I have already seen the rabbits here there and everywhere along with coons (who will want my corn and melons)possums, strays, and tons of birds...

A lot different then the big city I came from.


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Prepare to do battle, and I mean serious life-or-death battle, with the raccoons. Some years they beat me to the corn, but I beat them last year. A couple of years ago, one of our distant neighbors (he's about 3 miles away) decided to trap and remove the raccoons before they got all his corn. He trapped and disposed of 18, I think, and they still got every single ear of his corn before he got all of them.

An electric fence is effective, but not failsafe. We trap coons in a live animal trap (using canned cat food as bait)and release them along a creekbed several miles from our house (and we chose that area deliberately because it is in a sparsely populated area with no gardens or farm crops nearby).

Between the deer, the raccoons and the rabbits, a fence is a necessity, but even it won't keep every critter out. They all are remarkably good at finding their way under, over, and through fences. Just wait.....you'll see. And, believe me, when the critters come, you'll have my sympathy because they drive me nuts.

I used to think raccoons were cute, and amusing, when we first moved here, but their need to destroy my corn crop every year wiped out any sympathy I might have had for them. Some years, if they can't get into the garden and find something to eat, they jump up on the porch furniture, look in the windows, and knock on the windows begging for food. For the record, I don't feed them nor do I leave cat or dog food outside at night because they'd get it.

Raccoons are vicious predators too. Friend of ours lost two mother cats and both litters of kittens to coons two years ago, and (before we had a predator-proof henhouse) we've lost dozens of baby chicks and guineas to them.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

So electric fence... will add that to the spring chore list. I cannot do all this work for vegies to loose them all!

Dawn - you really are a wealth of information.


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

It comes from being older and having gardened for a long while....you know, "been there, done that". LOL


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

I am young compared to a lot of garden folks.. I will be 30 years old this fall... So I have a lot to learn.


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Mitch,

See there...I will turn 50 in 2009, so I am old enough to be your mother. LOL Now, I feel really old.

I gardened with my family for as long as I can remember, and our next-door-neighbors were very avid gardeners with a greenhouse and a double lot, one-half of which was a huge veggie garden. Some of my earliest memories are of following my dad around the yard and garden, and I can remember spending time with my grandparents in the summer when I was 4 or 5 or 6 and feeding the chickens, being chased by the rams, and riding on the tractor with my grandpa in his large garden. I had an uncle who lived in a semi-rural area east of Fort Worth who raised guinea pigs and rabbits to sell to research labs in the 1960s-70s and who also had a huge garden--I think it was several acres. So, gardening was just a part of life and I thought everyone did it. I think a lot of what I know about gardening I absorbed by osmosis from being around gardeners.

It wasn't until I was out on my own with my very own garden in the mid-1980s that I had to begin reading and learning all the hows/whys, instead of just turning to a relative or neighbor and saying "why?". That's when I really began to grow as a gardener--when I had to figure it out for myself. LOL If you read enough books, and absorb and apply what you know, then after a while you know at least a couple of things. And, of course, now we have the internet, which we (or at least I) didn't have in the 1980s and early 1990s. I think it is a whole lot easier to learn now because you can find so much info online.

And, I've come full circle in a lot of ways. Some of our relatives grew heirlooms way back when, although we call them that. Then, along came the hybrids with all their promises for disease-resistance and higher yields, yada, yada, yada. And, even though some of our friends and neighbors started out pretty organic, they fell into that 1960s era mentality of using chemicals to fertilize your lawn and garden and pesticides to kill the pests. Now, a couple of years later, everyone is more and more into heirlooms all the time, mostly because many hybrids cannot deliver their flavor. And, in an increasingly toxic world, a lot of us have gone back to the old ways of gardening in a kinder, gentler way.....and have found it works!

So, I guess all I'm saying is that, in your life as a gardener, you'll always be learning and growing and changing and that's a good thing. My favorite all-time garden quote (and there are many I love) is from Thomas Jefferson and it is: "Though an old man, I am but a young gardener." I understand the feeling behind that statement--well, except for the "man" part. LOL

If I ever stop learning and growing, I think gardening and my life would both lose some of their richness.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn -

How wonderful, I grew up with both sets of grandparents gardening in OK - so every summer I knew about the garden but beyond hating the work and stealing watermelons to feast on I never paid that much attention. My moms folks are in the Bixby area and the soil is stunning.. they could plant a stick and it would grow... my Dads folks are all from the Potato Hills in eastern OK with more rocks then soil but if you can get things to grow they will grow and grow and grow. Here I am, my folks always thought of a garden for poor folk and they where city folk so never dreamed of more then a tomato in a pot here and there... I went back from my first year in college I started working and growing veggies and native plants... and I love it. I am not good at it yet but I love it and the wonderful feeling of eating something your hands grew is strangely the best feeling in the world...

Mitch


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Mitch,

My grandparents and parents grew veggies (esp. in my parents' younger days) so they wouldn't starve! I grew veggies, even from a young age, because I grew-up eating home-grown veggies and knew they tasted better. Nowadays, a lot of people seem to be "returning" to vegetable gardening for many reasons, including economic hard times and a desire to grow healthy food that's not factory-farmed with a lot of chemicals. And, of course, there's a lot of us who just love to grow veggies and fruits.

When I was a kid, there was a family in our smallish-town that had a large "market garden" right there beside a major intersection in town and you could stop by their place and get fresh in-season produce from them six days a week during the growing season. It was such good food, tasted better than grocery-store produce, and was reasonably priced since it grew right there and you weren't having to pay any transportation costs. That sizable piece of land sold for development in the late 1970s, and it was a sad day for our town.

Nowadays, unless you live in a fairly large town, there aren't any farmer's markets. And, in some larger towns that have the markets, a lot of the produce isn't even home-grown, but instead is purchased from a wholesaler and is trucked in or flown in from other states or countries.

So, some of us grow our own because it is the only way to have truly fresh, locally-grown fruits and vegetables. I grow mine organically, too, so whenever I step foot in an upscale Organic/Natural Grocery Market, like Whole Foods or Central Market, I secretly gloat to myself. They do have great, organic produce in those stores.....but, oh, the prices! In the summer, when I am picking vast amounts of organically-grown heirloom tomatoes, I shake my head with amazement at their prices for similar tomatoes, which generally range from $3.99 to $6.99 per pound, depending on how rare the tomato is and how hard it is to grow.

Keep gardening and you'll be amazed at how quickly you get better at it. With careful spacing and succession planting, you'll be amazed at how productive a veggie garden can be.

And, if you want the absolute best vegetable gardening book in the world for our part of the country, check out the one on the attached link. I've had this book for many years now, and I still refer to it almost daily. It is, hands-down, the most helpful book I've ever had. I worship Dr. Cotner and appreciate him sharing his knowledge with all of us. And, yes, the word "Texas" is in the title, but everything he says applies to us Okies too. With this book, you might not have to ask anyone a question ever again, because Dr. Cotner will teach you everything you need to know about raising veggies. : ) And, I say that NOT because we mind answering questions here, but just to make the point that it is a very thorough book.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Texas Vegetable Growing Book


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Dawn -

Will get the book, I love to get books so will get the book and have it ready to use and use and use again... I love books and even the web pages I print off I make into books with binders and tables of contents.. I love books ( can you tell?)

Yep both Grandparents grew veggies because they had to, and loved to do it. I guess I got that love and the taste is hard to beat.

Mitch


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

This is all great info but I have another question. I bought a mixed pack of winter squash seed today because I noticed that it included a mini-butternut I've wanted to try. It also includes "Lakota" (a maxima), acorn, and spaghetti squashes.
I wasn't paying attention closely enough and didn't notice until I got home that the seed aren't color coded. Any ideas on how to tell the butternut from the others? The largest is solid white, the smallest is white outlined in tan, then there are two solid tans-- one smaller and narrower than the other.

I'm not a spaghetti squash fan and I have terrible trouble with borers, so it's really only the butternut I'm interested in. Appreciate any help!


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

I don't even like to try to identify seeds merely by looking at a picture, so there's no way I would try to identify based only on a description. You might want to try googling the name or type of squash you have + seed + image (or photo or picture).


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

The largest seed is probably Lakota. C. maximas usually have large fat seeds. Sometimes they are white. The smallest of the tan seeds is most likely the butternut. Butternut seed is usually pretty small for a squash, and in my experience, the smaller butternuts often have even smaller seeds. This is an educated guess; not guarantees : )

George


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

George,

I bet you're right, but I hate going out on a limb like that.

Merton,

I thought maybe I could find a comparison of the cucurbita seeds that would help you, so I checked my copy of Suzanne Ashworth's book SEED TO SEED: SEED SAVING AND GROWING TECHNIQUES FOR VEGETABLE GARDENERS and here is how she describes them:

Cucurbita maxima: Thick seeds that are white or tan or brown with cream colored margins and thin cellophane coatings. (As George pointed out, your Lakota is a maxima so should fit this description.)

C. moschata seeds are small, oblong and beige with a dark beige margin. (Your butternut is a moschata so one of your two solid tan types of seed ought to match this description.)

C. pepo seeds are cream-colored and each has a white margin. Your acorn squash is a pepo so its seed should match this description. The problem is that your spaghetti squash is a pepo also, so its' seeds ought to match this description too.

C. agyrosperma (formerly mixta) seeds would be the easiest to identify because they usually have small cracks in them. (They are described as white or tan with a pale margin and cracks in the skin coat on the flat sides of the skins which are covered with a thin cellophane covering.) None of the squash in your packet are agyrosperma types though.

If you have specific variety names for your spaghetti, butternut, acorn and Lakota squashes, you probably could google and find descriptions of each squash, including the approximate size of the mature squash and that size might help you figure out which of your pepo seeds is which.

Or, you might e-mail the seed company and see if they can tell you, by description only, which seed is which variety.

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Thanks so much to you both! Dawn, I'm going to get that book. Although I'd tried unsuccessfully to find clear photos of squash seed on-line, lkw over at the Natural Gardening blog, sent me to a website on winter squash that you all may find helpful sometime:
http://www.comav.upv.es/taxonomy_intro.html

With what you all have told me and the very clear seed images there, I can single out the butternut and lakota seed. As you noted Dawn, the two pepo types would be hard to distinguish, but I probably won't grow them anyway.

One more question, if I may. Have any of you tried injecting or spraying beneficial nematodes to deal with vine borers and if so, did you feel it helped? I have used Bt (injecting damaged vines-- what a chore!) with limited success. If I thought it might help, I might just plant some of those lakota seeds too. Thanks again.


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Merton,

You're welcome. You'll love the book!

I've only used beneficial nematodes by applying them directly to the ground.

If you have severe problems with SVBs, why not grow your squash under floating row covers? You could use bent PVC pipe or electrical conduit to keep the row covers up slightly above the top of the plants?

I've heard of mixed results from folks who've injected Bt, and am not convinced it is worth it, but I've never tried it myself.

I have planted Lakota and gotten mature squash, but not necessarily every year.....some years the SVBs are worse here than other years.

Thanks for the link. I'll have to save it to my clippings or bookmark it or something so I can find it again.

Good luck with your squash,

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

I actually have such a PVC pipe set-up over two of my raised beds. I set them up that way for winter protection, but I could try the lighter covers to deter the moths in summer.Thanks again, Dawn!


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Merton,

You're welcome.

I'm going to grow my pumpkins and winter squash under floating row covers this year myself, although I am concerned about how I'll keep them from floating away in the strong winds that accompany thunderstorms here in the spring and summer (assuming we have any thunderstorms here this year because we're in our 19th month of drought in our county).

I've mentioned before that sometimes SVBs are more of a problem in our garden than at other times. Well, usually they are worse when it is hot and dry and our long-term spring forecast calls for hotter and drier than usual weather, so that's why I'm planning on using floating row covers. I figure I might as well be prepared for the SVBs before they arrive since they are so hard to control after they arrive. (sigh)

And, I haven't had a severe SVB problem since 2006, I believe, so I'm overdue for a visit from these unwelcome guests.

I'm ordering my floating row covers from Peaceful Valley Farm Supply because they have sizes I think will work with my raised beds. To make this size work, I'm going to have to make the squash stay inside their own beds, which might be hard because I usually let them roam all over the place. Maybe I'll size up to the next bigger width, and just let them roam. I don't have to decide on the size just yet, but soon.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: This Is The One I Think I'm Going To Get


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

I just grow resistant varieties. Most all the c. moschata and c. agryrosperma (first time I've tried to write this from memory: i.e. the old c. mixta)are resistant. There are a few c. pepo squash which show significant resistance, though they are much more rare. If I HAD to grow c. maxima, I'd definitely use something like a floating row cover. Here, it's simply next to impossible to grow them without such protection.

George


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

George,

Some of my favories are maximas and I have mixed success with them. Some years, all SVBs. Other years, none. I wish I could know in advance if the SVBs were "coming to visit" or not, because then I'd be less wishy-washy about what to plant.

Congratulations on agyrosperma! Every time I type it or say it, though, my brain is still screaming "Mixta! Mixta")

Dawn


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Wow, what a great discussion ! I have a question for anybody who really likes home-made pumpkin pies from home-grown pumpkins, & there is a lot of info here, but I want even more!

I am looking for recommendations for a large-fruited, great-flavored, fine-grained pumpkin (or squash) for pies, with thin enough skin that I can throw whole cooked chunks into the food processor and not have to peel them first. From what I have learned on this thread, it should be a C.Pepo (because I live in the rainy part of Washington State, and we don't get very hot most years).

Winter Luxury got rave reviews earlier in this thread. Is it thin-skinned? Or does it keep well?

I have grown several varieties of "sugar" pumpkins, which are great, but tend to be small & thick-skinned. They keep well (I just processed the last one yesterday) but for freezing, so I can process a lot at once, I would like to find something I don't have to peel. Long Island Cheese is great, but I fear this area is not hot enough to make it happy.

Any ideas or feedback, either on the forum or to my e-mail, would be much appreciated.


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RE: Winter Squash and Pumpkins

Fernisland,

I've never tried to make a pumpkin pie with the rind still on the pumpkin or mixed into the cooked pumpkin puree, but I am not sure it would work. I don't know if even a thin skin would cook down to the same consistency as the flesh.

When you are selecting a variety of pumpkin or winter squash to grow for pie-making, you will find that the ones that have the best flavor and texture tend to be smaller and have a somewhat thicker skin. On carving pumpkins, you'll find thinner skin but the flesh lacks the flavor and texture you want for a pumpkin pie. Winter luxury pie is somewhat thin-skinned. All winter squash keep very well here in our climate if they are harvested at the appropriate time and stored properly. You have a lot more humidity than we do, so I don't know how long/how well they'll keep for you.

You might try asking this question at the Gourd, Squash and Pumpkin Forum here at Garden Web. I'm sure the experts over there can answer your question.

Dawn

Here is a link that might be useful: Gourd, Squash and Pumpkin Forum


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