Mr. Josephs’ great book “Landrace Gardening” has inspired me to create my own landrace of Cucurbita Moschata.
I probably spent dozens of hours in seed catalogs and websites looking for the most diverse, interesting and rare varieties I could find. I even ordered some from Hungary, the Philippines and even the USDA seed bank.
This process had brought me tremendous joy. It turns out I like acquiring new seeds just as much as I like gardening.
I’ve surprised myself on this one. After I realized I had about 33 varieties in my collection, I began to realize this is not normal. This is probably crazy.
Here are the varieties:
• Magic cushaw
• Rancho Marques
• Cuello Largo “long neck tropical pumpkin”
• Canada Crookneck
• Giant Bocaleme Squash
• Gigante Soler
• PL 169409 01
• PL172344 01
• PL 438803 01
• PL 442287 01
• PL 442286 01
• PL 438732 01
• PL 438802 01
• PL 442254 01
• Lofthouse Landrace Moschata
• Choctaw Sweet Potato
• Gueramon Martinique
• Taina Dorada
• Mini Musk Squash
• Vitaminnaya Squash
• La Estrella
• Thai Kang Kob
• Chinese Tropical Pumpkin
• Kogigu Squash
• Goianinha Squash
• Sucrine Du Berry
• Texas Indian Moschata
• Cherokee Tan
• Butternut/Cherokee Tan likely cross from 2022
• Decorative Moschata from Halloween pumpkin sale “about 10 lbs fruit”
I have the area ready to plant! I am waiting for March 18 and March 19, which is the weekend after my average last frost date. I live in South Mississippi.
I would like to share some details about my planting plan. Also, I am open to hearing about any ideas or experiences that could potentially improve on this design.
I have decided to plant the 33 moschata varieties in the least favorable position in my back yard. There is an underground cable in this region of my yard that has prevented me from expanding my garden in this area.
I found some stepping stone type bricks at a store for about .50 each. I bought a bunch of those and put them down a couple months ago. This has killed the grass for me. Last week, I threw a handful of potting soil underneath the bricks.
The attached images are from today “3-3-2023.” I’ve got those bricks sitting down until I get ready to plant. Therefore, this is going to be a no till, no dig system out of necessity due to the underground cable being there.
The soil type in my yard is mostly clay with a little bit of sand. The type of grass and weeds I have form deep and very aggressive root systems.
The situation being the way it is, I believe the practice I have just described will select for varieties that are capable of fighting for their underground space.
Also, I have devoted one planting spot per variety. There will not be 2 plants of the same variety growing. This gives me a lot of confidence that the majority of the pumpkins will be crosses.
I’m curious to see how your plan works. My squash patch was also previously occupied by that particularly nasty aggressive grass, and I’m afraid your squash aren’t going to win, although I hope I’m wrong. How I got rid of 98% of mine without digging: solarize. Put down a layer of clear plastic sheeting now. Cut little holes for your squash plants. Let the squash sprawl over the top of the plastic. Rake up the junk after the squash are done in the fall. Repeat next year. Good luck! (In addition to killing the grass roots, it will also kill the desirables that are in your soil. They will recover once you are done chasing grass.)
If you don’t have a large market garden, covering with plastic does work. However, I would recommend occultation (black plastic) instead of solarizing (clear plastic). In Mississippi the sun will create a lot of heat that will definitely kill a lot of soil life. Using occultation will kill things off over a period of several months by simply starving the plant because it can’t get any sunlight. Solarizing is recommended to be used only for a couple of days at the most. Occultation does not kill a lot of soil microbes according to my tests. However, you do need to leave it down for a couple extra months to kill plants with deep aggressive rhizomes. Here in Canada that’s quackgrass, which I suppose acts similar to your Bermuda grass and Johnsongrass, etc. in the south.
I think the reason I enjoy collecting seeds so much is that each new type represents a hope of something wonderful and new and different. New varieties are nice; new species are even better. It’s particularly exciting to think of being the first one in an area to do something unusual and really cool that other people will want to copy later. It’s so joyful!
I really like your setup so far. When I started my okra landrace last year I did something similar to your one variety per spot method. Since I have acquired an abundance of moschata squash seeds myself (not as many as you) this method helps me to decide which ones to plant. And acquiring seeds for me also becomes like a hobby in itself for me too!
I have enjoyed reading the replies so far and have given thought to every one of them.
I would like to update you all on the next phase of my plan.
Besides Mr. Lofthouse, the other person who has greatly inspired me is David Goodman “David the Good”. I have enjoyed his Youtube videos! As a matter of fact, I heard about Joseph Lofthouse initially from him.
I have attached 5 images of my latest project concerning the Moschata. I had bought about 20 pumpkins from a hardware store selling them $1 each after Halloween in 2022. My wife got tired of making pumpkin pie by now, so I decided to turn the remaining few pumpkins into fertilizer, specifically David’s Fetid Swamp Water.
The water in the buckets is collected rainwater. The vines in the image are Cherokee Tan pumpkins vines from 2022, probably included are stinkbug and leaf footer egg/larvae either inside the bucket water or somehow attached to the vines (for protein)!
I figure or hope that most of what these Moschata plants will need is mostly contained in the pumpkins and pumpkin vines that I have put inside these buckets to rot. The 5 initial images were taken on March 4, 2023 and covered at that date by a bucket top.
The last attached image is some pumpkin plants that have volunteered in my yard after I chopped up those pumpkins with a shovel for fertilizer! I am exited to see if they can take over! The last image with the pumpkin sprouts is from today, 3-14-2023.
Before I planted, I decided to prepare the spots more than I originally thought I would. I got a hand shovel and tilled the ground about 6 inches on most of them. I also threw in a handful or two more of potting soil and mixed that in to the native clay.
Also, I added one additional cultivated spot to the mix. I added an additional Magic Cushaw. The description of the cultivar said it was found in a South Georgia swamp. I decided to test this feral swamp creature by planting it on top of 6 pounds of delicious crawfish! If this beast can handle all that salt and spice, it deserves a place in my pumpkin patch.
The weather has been on the cool end, definitely less than optimal. I believe Moschata does best when night temps are 60 F and higher, day temps 70 - 90 degrees. We have been experiencing below average temps; some mornings have reached high forties recently.
The way the weather is like here in South Mississippi, things are unpredictable. Day time temps could be over 90 next month, which I believe is adverse.
I’ve noticed about 10 cucumber beetles showing interest in these plants. I expect a full invasion of those, stink bugs and leaf footers when the stubborn chill finally leaves until late fall.
I have attached some images below, including an image of the homemade pumpkin fertilizer/swamp water I started on March 4th this year. I went ahead and added some chicory roots to it. Not seed in the picture, I went ahead and added some extra sunflower and maxima seeds in the fertilizer too.
Thanks. Those are 4” x 6”. The landscape supply store marked it down and called it “b” class. I think it is inferior in some way. What I have learned so far is next time I will buy a bigger size, maybe 12” by 12”.
I have been surprised. In one of my garden beds, I’ve had a volunteer, perhaps from last year, come up and show everyone who’s boss. It has out performed everything I planted intentionally — by a long shot. It makes me wonder how big of a handicap I have put myself in by planting the way I did. Who knows?
I love how you name your plants that stick out amongst the rest. I have a similar habit and do so myself.
I’ll be following your progress. My area have the notorious squash vine borers so they will tear up most anything in the family and make other pests like squash bugs seem like tame kittens so I have not started work on my own squash landraces but I think I have to bite the bullet and at least pick up Lofthouse’s different squash landraces seeds and start work on them even though it will mean SVB will become endemic in the soil at my place.