Sweet Fall Squash is a Keeper


Tracy HouptThis time last year, my son Kyle and I were planning a trip to Decorah, Iowa, for the annual conference and campout at Seed Savers Exchange (check them out at SeedSavers.org). What a great time we had, and how blessed I felt to get such an extended visit with my recent college graduate! Kyle shares my interest in gardening, and although he isn’t able to have his own garden yet, I think he will one day.

Since moving to Adventure Farm, I’ve been intrigued by growing open-pollinated vegetable varieties in my garden, and you can’t find a better source for seeds or inspiration than Seed Savers. The stories that go with the seeds give fascinating insights into our immigrant and pioneer history, not to mention the fact that you cannot find many of these delicious varieties in your local nursery or grocery store. Charentais melon (a true cantaloupe), Brandywine tomatoes, Moon and Stars watermelon, Tollie’s pepper, Early Blood Turnip beets ... you have to see and taste these and so many more beautiful varieties, if you get the chance. (It is getting easier to find some of these “heirloom” seeds; I see some of them in my local farm stores, although Seed Savers is still one of the primary go-to places if you really want to delve into what’s available.)

Seed Savers Exchange garden 

There’s something very satisfying to me about growing seeds from varieties that have been handed down through generations of families; it provides a feeling of connection to people who have gone before me. I think about the lives they lived, how hard they worked, how life dealt them joys and sorrows just like it does to all of us ... and I’m thankful that these seeds and their stories have been preserved.

Did you know that when you grow an open-pollinated vegetable in your garden, let’s say a tomato, and you save seeds from some of the nicest fruits to replant in later years, that the subsequent generations of tomatoes can adapt to your particular growing conditions? That is a fascinating concept! That’s just one reason it’s so important to keep older varieties going.

Modern hybrid seeds can offer many good qualities, as well, but be aware that if you save seeds from a hybrid plant, you will not get offspring that are true-to-type; in other words, you will be growing an experiment! That’s not all bad, of course, but if you want to know that you are going to get delicious Brandywine tomatoes year after year from seeds you save, you need to save those seeds from open-pollinated plants.

Old lady farmer
3/21/2021 7:01:07 PM

Has anyone trellised these? If they are Hubbard type, are they as affected by cucumber beetles? I am thinking of planting these far away from my other squash to use as a trap plant and at the same time, maybe get a few that make it to harvest. What is it's susceptibility to powdery mildew?

7/16/2015 10:49:11 AM

Tracy, never thought about squash muffins. I've heard much about Seed Savers but didn't know they had a conference in Iowa. What happens at a seed saver's conference? I'm limited on how long I can be away from home. With a 10 year old grandson and an 89 year old mother in law to care for, it can be difficult to get away for more than a day or two. The grandson's mom helps as much as she can but the MIL depends almost daily on straightening out the slipping thought process and errands that need to be taken care of. Decorah is about 5 1/2 hours away from the west bank of the Nebraska Missouri river. I try to get to at least one gardening oriented festival. That's usually the Mother Earth Fair in Kansas. The three hour drive is just about the right distance before fatigue sets in. It makes for two long days but well worth it. ***** Have a great seed exchanging day.

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