Heirloom Seeds & Poultry
1878 230th Street, Calamus, IA 52729
Unless otherwise noted, all packets will contain at least 15 seeds (most packets will contain more). Plant after danger of frost is past or start indoors 2 weeks prior and set out when conditions are favorable. Bush types can be placed 5 to 6 feet apart; vining types need at least 10 feet between hills, though they can be crowded if you are prepared to deal with the jungle. We plant 5 seeds per hill. We have listed the species by each squash for those who are seed savers. We will use C. mixta as that is what the current trend indicates. Historical correctness would mean using Cucurbita argyrosperma.
Our goal is to try to keep as many available as possible so we do carry a number of non organic varieties that we purchase from commercial outlets. We try to grow for seed those unique ones that we cannot purchase from wholesale growers. We hope by spreading the purchased varieties out more we can help to keep more of the gene pool alive.
(all C. pepo ) (36 varieties to choose from)
109 varieties to choose from
Growing Tips for Squash and Pumpkins
Squash seeds do not like to be placed in cold soil. It is better to wait until the ground is warm and then plant the seeds. If you are trying to rush the season for an early crop then it is best to start the plants 2 weeks ahead of the transplant time. Do not let them get more than 2 to 3 true leaves when you transplant them or it will stunt the growth . Squash and melons do not like to have their roots disturbed. Early transplants can be protected from insects with row cover. We place them out under hoops made of #9 wire and covered with row cover.
The vine crops continue to be the biggest challenge here in the Midwest to grow organically. We continue to search for safe and effective ways to grow these crops with the least impact on the environment. My large collection of over 1000 varieties of vine crops and the challenge of maintaining the collection here in Iowa has been the biggest reason we had not sought organic certification for so long. We don’t have things perfected yet, but we will continue to work and share any environmentally friendly methods we can with you.
Cushaw Squash Recipe
For years I have grown cushaw squash for their beauty and for livestock feed. But for table quality I never found a baked cushaw squash to be much more than bland. A co-worker at school asked me if I ever grew them. I said, “Sure, but what in the world do you want them for?” She then proceeded to tell me how delicious they were. I was hesitant, but then Linda tried her recipe and we really liked it. So, we modified it a bit and think you will enjoy it also. Cut off the neck portion of the Cushaw-type squash (the bowl of the squash tends to be a little more stringy consistency). Peel the neck section with a potato peeler (or a knife) and cut the neck into slices about 1/2 inch thick. Cut these slices into bite sized pieces. Add a couple tablespoons of olive (or vegetable) oil to a large non-stick skillet to heat. Add sliced onions and minced garlic to the heated oil and then add in the pieces of squash that you have previously prepared. Add salt and pepper to taste and cook squash until tender. Serve as a side dish in place of rice or potatoes.
Future Squash Plans
My initial seed saving endeavors got a start as a child growing squash. The growth rate of their vines and the multiple shapes and colors got me hooked on gardening, then seed saving and plant breeding. I continue to have a fascination with vine crops today but there are so many time constraints upon my time I just don’t have the hours I used to have to do all of the hand pollinations to maintain so many types. At one point I had collected over 700 varieties of squash and was growing and hand pollinating them. As the poultry collection grew and the hours in the day shrank the collection started to suffer. I donated much of the collection to Seed Savers Exchange in 2008. I trust that is is being maintained. When my friend Tom Knoche passed away I inherited over 2000 varieties of his seed collection and, as I stated in the bean collection, I started increasing it this past year. I hope to make a start in the squash soon. Tom and I were both a bit obsessed with collecting squash so, hopefully, there will be enough hours in the day to salvage some of the heirloom varieties that Tom had frozen. Wish us well and more hours in the day and perhaps some really unique stuff will appear here in years to come. As with the beans and other things, our hope is like Wilson Sweet and Halbert Honey Watermelon, they will make the grade and become popular and widely available again.