10 July 2012


The blog is alive! I decided I missed having a place to randomly babble about stuff, probably because I've had time to recover from the whole book-writing thing (coming to a book store near you in January!) so the blog is back, baby!
So, with no further ado, squash plants!
Last year I grew a whole crazy array of squash and had oodles of fun making crosses between them. I had some original breeding goals, but I grew this crazy variety called 'Stokna' which was apparently bred for the production of pumpkin seed oil, and sort of fell in love with it. Despite its intended purpose, it makes a decently tasting zucchini, and it is without a doubt THE MOST vigorous and healthy variety I've ever grown. So I crossed it with everything. Now I'm growing the hybrid seedlings.

The babies certainly inherit the Stokna vigor... The giant mammoth plants in the center are Yellow Crook Neck x Stokna. On the right is a row of Kakai, and on the left (almost swallowed up by its neighbor) are the sliver patterned leaves of Tetsubuko... both very vigorous, spreading plants, looking downright whimpy in comparison.

And check out these GIANT leaves (my hand for scale. My knee also for scale, by accident.) on another hybrid with Stokna! The other parent for this cross is a variety whose name I cleverly misplaced... I just call it Early Mildew, because it starts flowering very early, and doesn't get mildew. Or at least didn't last year.

I'm not sure why I'm so interested in insanely vigorous squash that are rapidly making a bid to conquer the entire garden, trampling down lesser plants that get in their way, but somehow they are just SO happy I can't resist them.

I do wish another group of my squash hybrids had a little bit more vigor...

These are second generation seedlings from a cross between 'Romanesco' and 'Tromboncino' and despite being planted a little bit before the giant plants from the other side of the garden are still looking pretty darn runty. My goal for this cross was squash borer resistance and exceptional flavor for a summer squash. Too early to see how either of those traits turn out, but I've been totally unexpectedly mesmerized by another trait -- the amount of silver patterning on the leaves. You can see it is quite variable in the picture above, and some of the individuals are quite lovely.
Isn't that nice? I could just see it scrambling up a trellis in an ornamental veggie garden. Of course squash foliage here tends to get totally trashed by mildew later in the summer so we'll see... 'Tromboncino' is reasonably mildew resistant for me, so maybe some of these silvery guys will inherit some of that as well. Or maybe I could eventually cross them with the super giant leaves of the Stokna hybrids? That could be pretty awesome.

So much fun, and I'm going to have SO MUCH zucchini from all this craziness I'm going to be trying to give it away to anyone who will take it. So consider yourself warned...