Written and Researched by: Alan Reed Bishop of Hip-Gnosis Seed Development and Bishop's Homegrown
I know a lot of folks are big into keeping most of their winter squashes separate. While I do maintain a great portion of my very rare squash in their originally intended state (and always will as long as they remain rare), the past two years I have been planting mass plantings of various types of winter squashes like Moshata's, Mixta's, Maxima's, and Agrospermia types (no Pepo types, I already have two categories of those grown separately, an acorn/mini pumpkin type which shows great diversity and my separated by variety summer squashes). I'm basically interested in seeing what happens in the coming years with the crossing of these various types in my fields and with picking out and maintaining the ones I find most tasteful as well as beautiful and practical (storage ability, processing). When I find something I like out of the mix then the work begins on "selfing" or "self pollinating" that particular type until I can find a selection similar to what I first took note of and then I'll grow it out for several years until I find the open pollinated equivalent. The other seed from squash that still resembles the original parents or doesn't represent something I am particularly keen on just goes back into the pot for planting the next season (as long as is stores and tastes well), along with newly grown out seed stocks of types that weren't previously in the mix and the whole experiment goes on next year. This also works out well at the farmers market and here on the farm as there is always plenty of winter squash for roadside and farm stand sales in colors, shapes and sizes that are both common and those which no one have ever seen before, this definitely leads to a little bit of monetary gain for the fall as winter squash for Halloween and Thanksgiving decorations have replaced the once ever-popular Jack O' lantern in recent years here in Southern Indiana.
The picture above shows one of several one gallon ice cream buckets filled with a number of different squash selections from all over the world of different types and from different cultures, most of them are great for pies and all are terrific for decorations, this year I will be adding about 50 new cultivars to the list and I'm sure the next I'll add that many more again, there are just so many winter squash to work with that the possibilities are really endless and since I don't really have any focus notes (other than tastes and looks) regarding what to look for in the squash project and I go by what I see and taste I don't mind the off types, because it's in those off types that I might indeed find my next "smash hit" at the farmers marketts and in my seed trading circles.