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~ WINTER SQUASH (PUMPKINS) ~

We continue our search for squash that mature quickly,
taste great, and keep a long time for you to eat over the winter.

An easily-grown favourite with all the family!

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In our squash trials, we have found several varieties that
we think are quite simply amazing
in terms of earliness, yield, and flavour.

Our pumpkin patch may be a bit bigger than yours . . .

 




Sow squashes in May in small pots with some heat, and plant out when the third true leaf is just starting to open. Harvest in autumn
when they are fully mature - how long they will store after that depends on the variety.



plant picture Blue Hungarian NEW TRIAL VARIETY
Here's your chance to help decide what goes into the Catalogue. This is a new strain of Hungarian Blue squash that we are trying out this year. Its a round squash, with blue-grey skin, and quite noticeable ribs. The skin is thin and easily peeled, and the flesh is very dense and filling.

We've grown good squash from this family before and think they could do really well here, but we'd like feedback from more people. So we've made up a few small trial packets , the idea being that you grow it and then email us to tell us how it performs and if you think we should add it to the Catalogue for future years.

Please only order this if you already know how to grow squash and are growing at least one other type this year to compare it with - if an absolute beginner gardener has poor results it doesn't tell us so much.

Order SqBH - TRIAL PACKET OF 8 seed £

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plant picture Boston Squash
This is an very nice ultra-early yellow hubbard squash for short-season areas.

The original seed was given to a Mr J M Ives in 1831 by a friend, so we can see that it has stood the test of time well.

It is a good big hubbard, with beautiful yellow-orange skin. The skin helps it keep for a long time, starting out yellow and then turning golden orange after midsummer. Vigorous vines and very productive, even in cooler parts of the country.

Feedback:
"Hi there, Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I grew your Boston Squash on our allotment this year, and (with minimal gardening expertise) one plant achieved a squash which weighs in at 2 stone 5 pounds! We are the envy of the allotments, which is lovely for beginners. - Alex Clark

Order SqBo - 12 seed £

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plant picture Hokkaido
This is a well-travelled squash - originally from Japan - but grown in Europe for many years, in the process being reselected for our northern climate, so it does well here.

It is from the 'hubbard' family of squashes, which is the earliest and easiest group of squash to grow in the UK.

The flesh is dense, with a good flavour, and it keeps well. Always popular!

Order SqHo - 12 seed £

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plant pictureWaltham Butternut
'Waltham' is an improved version of the common Butternut squash: It has very little seed cavity, thicker & straighter necks, fruits earlier, and produces more flesh per fruit.

It was bred by the Massachusetts Ag. Extension Service in the 1960's by crossing 'New Hampshire Butternut' with a wild African squash.

When growing Butternut squash, you need to be sure you have an early strain. This one is great! The orange flesh stays firm when cooked, and it stores very well too.

Reliable, productive. Long-keeper.

plant picture Order SqWB - 12 seed £

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Note: Traditionally, Butternut is one of the main squash types used to make pumpkin pie.

But in fact any dry-fleshed, dense squash works well. You can also make very nice pumpkin tartlets using a muffin tray! Here are some Kate and Josie made for Halloween.


plant picture Burgess Vine Buttercup
Considered by many to be one of the best eating squashes ever, this vine produces heavy, 9 inch, round, dark-green squash with a lighter green 'button' underneath.

We like it because it keeps well but is easy to peel. All buttercups have dense rich flesh but the Burgess strain is even sweeter than normal.

This is a good choice for those with smaller plots as the vines are not too huge, but still make lots of squash just the right size for two or three people.

Excellent flavour, green squash, very dense with good tetxure.

Order SqVB- 12 seed £

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plant pictureGaleuse d'Eysines
An unusual and beautiful French squash variety.  Quick to germinate and produces vigorous plants that set smooth yellow fruit. At this point they look nothing special, but as they ripen they turn a glowing orangey-pink, & then in storage they grow an amazing warty surface to the skin. 

We find this one of the easiest varieties to grow in the UK, even in cooler summers, producing a good yield of sensibly sized tasty squashes. 

Order SqGE - 14 seed £

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plant picture"Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato"

This is a great Acorn Squash we have added. Acorn squash have a good flavour, and we have been trying various types to find one suitable for the UK climate.

We are really pleased to have come up with this one which is much earlier than the others, producing lots of squash even in short summers.

The pale heart-shaped fruit are pointy and have gentle fluting down the sides. When mature, you can simply cut them in half and bake in the oven. (Though of course there are other options for the experts - Kate's mother once made a very fine acorn-squash soufflé!)

Originally collected by Tom & Sue Knoche in Ohio, USA.

Very productive. Remarkably long-keeping too.

"Just had to let you know that I cooked one of my Thelma Sanders squash to serve with the Boxing Day dinner and everyone remarked on the delicious flavour and one squash was enough to serve 5 easily. They are the best squash I have ever grown and in West Wales wet summer of 2012 I still had a huge crop that is storing well and cooking even better." - Sally Ann Reeves

Order SqTS- 12 seed £

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plant picture Blue Banana VERY RARE
This incredible squash makes attractive, two-foot-long fruit rather like a pale blue zeppelin! This is an American heirloom (originally from Guatemala). The vine is quite large, but not enormous - and grows rapidly, producing lots of fruit early in the season.

The grey-blue fruit have a waxy skin that keeps it fresh for ages, but is very thin and easily peeled. This is the best of the three 'banana squash' varieties still in existence.

It is really easy to cook - just slice across it and you get handy rings of squash - easy to deseed and quick to trim off the skin. And it is very nice in a risotto, see the picture.

plant pictureplant pictureEasily peeled with good yellow flesh, it keeps well - stored from October, we cooked the last one in April!

Grey-blue, easy to peel, long keeping.

Feedback? Always popular. Well known for being prolific - one person in London wrote in to say "But what on earth shall I do with all these squash everywhere?"

Order SqBL - 10 seed £

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plant pictureMusquee de Provence NEW
This is a proper Cinderella-style of pumpkin , back in the catalogue at last - an heirloom with very dense sweet flesh.

It's a large vine - it rambles all over the place, with big fruit up to 10 lbs, deeply ribbed, ripening to orange.

The ribs divide the squash up into neat sections that can be sliced off on at a time, and the skin is very thin - so easily peeled!

Although it was traditionally used in pies and pastries we actually prefer to use it savoury - roasted or fried, as the flesh keeps a good texture when cooked.

Large deeply ribbed fruit. Sweet dense orange flesh

Order SqMP - 12 seed £

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plant picture 'Anna Swartz' Hubbard Squash
The best of our 2006 squash trials, and very popular ever since.

In the 1950's this nice green squash was passed to a woman called Anna Swartz by a friend. She kept it going, and passed it on to a seed-saving group, from where ultimately we got a few seeds to try, as it was highly recommended.

It lived up to its reputation! The plants had hardly germinated before they were off and making a bid for freedom - the vines are big and very fast-growing. All of a sudden they were covered in fruit, too!

These then filled out nicely , with several full size by the end of July (even though we're in Wales).

The fruit, like most hubbards, have a very hard skin, which is - in all honesty - a bit tricky to open, but on the other hand means that they keep exceptionally well. The flesh is very sweet and dense - all in all an excellent squash.

Order SqAS - 12 seed £

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plant pictureCheyenne Bush Pumpkin

This is a super-early Jack O’Lantern type pumpkin.

It took a good search to find one that does well in the short summers we have in the UK -  but this one is remarkable.

It makes lots of medium round pumpkins that really should be ready in plenty of time for Halloween. It also cooks well, with a good texture and flavour.

Early, round orange pumpkin.

Order SqCB - 12 seed £

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plant pictureA note on . . . . the Harvest and Storage of Winter Squash

If handled correctly, they will keep for a long time. For biggest and densest fruit, leave the squash as long as possible on the vine, even after the leaves start to die down, unless there is danger of frost.

Harvest by cutting the vine either side of the stem, not cutting the stem itself. Bring inside and store in the warm for 10 days for them to cure. Ideally this is 80F / 25C, but we just keep ours in the kitchen where is is reasonably warm.

Curing like this makes lets the skin dry out and lets minor damage heal. It really makes them much longer-keeping and they can then be stored at a cool temperature (experiments prove that 55F / 12C gives the longest keeping) .

We use a spare (unheated) bedroom which is perfect in our not-very centrally heated house; but a frost-free garage will do at a pinch. A shed will probably get too cold overnight and too hot during the day. This storage temperature is important to get right - check with a thermometer - too cold and they will rot, too hot and they will shrivel.


Saving Squash Seed:

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It's no good just keeping some seed from any old squash you have grown.
Squash are very promiscuous! You have to hand-pollinate the flowers to keep them true to type.
Simple, but really necessary. (The rubber bands are to stop the insects getting in and crossing them!)

There is a trick to this and you should check out the free instructions we supply.

plant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant pictureplant picture

Here we are a couple of months later, scooping out the seed. Wash in lots of cold water until not sticky, pick out any duds, and tap out onto a plate to dry.

There's more detail in our free seed-saving leaflets that you can find in the sidebar on the left.

Basic seed-saving instructions are included with your seeds, so you can do this yourself.
There are more detailed home-seed saving guides (printable) over to the left of this page,
in the box titled 'SeedSaving', with sheets on drying and storing your seed too.
And of course, seed-saving is only possible because these are all real, non-hybrid varieties.