I have sent you a mix of seeds for short season butternuts to be grown out and selected for best fruit. Within this are some of my own seeds that have already gone through one season of selection but there are other varieties including Greta’s Canadian Crookneck and so forth.
For those of you that have less experience growing butternut, they are a good storage squash, with medium hard skin and solid stems resistant to squash vine borer and fine sweet flavoured flesh. Some are used as a zucchini such as trombocino (I didn’t include these seeds as it’s a separate project but could be a side observation for those interested). They have a reputation as fruiting later than some of the other species but grow well for me in this climate.
Plant after last frost in warm soil or pre start no more than 4 weeks early I’d say if you have issues with soil or pests that would warrant that. I have not done any fertility amendment with mine but started with bermed beds so there was inherent fertility. I also rotate where I grow my vining crops. My squash are usually in the soil by late May (weather dependent) but I know some of you may not be able to get them in the ground until June so you might want to give them a few weeks headstart or do half and half to see if direct seeding is a priority for your purposes. As plants will vary in size, I can’t say exactly what spacing should be but at least 4 feet.
Please include your goals but I’d say the first goals are:
b) good shape for use
d) disease resistance
e) sprouting in cool soil potentially for some of you.
Pictures throughout the season would be GREAT! That way if you have questions or issues, we can comment on them and also as a way of documenting your growing techniques.
At the end of the season, post a picture of your harvest or send in any info you may have collected including date of sowing, spacing, seeds sown, germination rates, growth rates, flower dates, fruit set and so forth. We’ll also keep a record of weather. Also record your soil type or any other about your growing conditions such as whether they were grown in part sun (urban consideration) or were irrigated.
Send back about the same amount (or a larger amount if possible) of seed you were given from a mix of your best fruit. So best to wait until you have used all your best fruit and collect the seeds from them, dry really well and then put in a jar to mix them around. Try to rouge out any seed that is damaged, diseased or empty.
Last year was trail and then some but I got my struggling but finally producing plants to give me squash, not that many reached the true ripening stage seed wise as I would have liked but given the year, I will take what I can get, the feedback was that mine were smaller then expected but again, I think that is due to the fact that they did not have a lot of time to grow-ripen as I had a much later start then I expected.
Having said that they have held very well, I am still eating some at this time in mid-March from storage, I am down to just a few left and I have seen some rot or seed starting happening in the seeds on the last two that I cut into but the outside and flesh still look very good indeed. I expect that I will be done with those in storage in the next two weeks but given that they were picked in oct and held to april I consider that very good at six months
I was able to give back several hundred seeds to be mixed in so I consider that a success as well.
this year I am expanding the program, not only will I be growing the mix again, but I have ordered in a few extra butternut squash seeds from very tiny small growers that will be interplanted to cross the genes and selected back for them, plus I picked up nutterbutter.. its a older and smaller butternut squash, that grows a perfect size for smaller families at 1 or 2 pound squash, I am going to grow some pure seed from them but I also plan on bringing a touch of the smaller plant and the genes into the mix of the land race.
I would like to plant at least 80 plants again this year, the extra will be for livestock feed as they will certainly produce above and beyond in terms of what is need for our own use.
This program got talked about on national radio last year and it was very well received and I am quite sure there will be some follow up on it this coming year.. Its great fun to be part of a community program like this.