Heirloom winter squash and gourds are everywhere. Colorful displays decorate front porches, stores and restaurants. The squash is from the genus of Cucurbitaceae or cucurbit family and includes winter and summer squash, melon, cucumbers, pumpkins and chayotes. Globular fruit grows on long vines, with twining tendrils, and requires very little effort on the part of the gardener, beside providing space of a trellis for it to climb with wild abandon. A prolific producer, this family includes an abundance of heirloom and open pollinated varieties, because the male and female flowers easily self pollinate and cross breed.
Pumpkins and gourds are native to the Andes and Mesoamerica, seed was brought to Europe via explorers and then returned again by early settlers. The hard shells of gourds have been used for centuries as utensils, cups and water carriers, pipes and musical instruments. Winter squash and gourds store well for winter use because the thick skin rest comfortably for months in a cool root cellar, keeping the interior moist and ready to be baked or boiled.
Heirloom Favorites: Cucurbits easily cross- pollinated, and many heirlooms have adapted naturally over time. Squash are part of the three sisters Native American tradition of planting squash, beans and corn together, an elegant example of beneficial planting; squash hug the ground preventing weeds, the corn grows upright and provides stability for the pole beans to climb. Underground, the roots are also feeding each other, the legumes providing nitrogen to the soil.
- Winter Squash: Marina di Chioggia, Galeux dEysines, Butternut, Long Island Cheese, Musquee de Provence, Kabocha, Red Kuri, Sibley, Hubbard, Queensland Blue, Delicatta.
- Pumpkins: Rouge vif d’Etampes, Musquee de Provence, Amish Pumpkin Pie, Winter Luxury Pie Pumpkin, Howden
- Summer Squash: Costata Romanesco, Black Beauty, Zuccheta Rampicante (Tromboncino)Crookneck, Ronde de Nice, , Lemon, Nimba Succhini, White or Yellow Scallop, Striata D’Italia.
- Melon: Jenny Lind, Charantais, Boule D’Or, Amish Melon, Bidwell Casaba, Moon and Stars, Eden’s Gem, Crenshaw, Green Nutmeg, Golden Honeymoon, Ha’ogen, Petit Gris de Rennes.
- Cucumber: Lemon, Armenian, West Indian Gherkin, Boothbay’s Blonde, Poona, White Wonder
Cut the squash in sections, and remove the seeds. Dry them on towels, before packing into a paper envelope, be sure to label with the date and variety. Keep in a dry, dark location until replanting again in spring.