Lower Salmon River Squash
This rare western heirloom is delicious, easy, early, and keeps well. This is a secret treasure, unknown to most gardeners. Considered one of the sweetest winter squashes. Drought-tolerant, early, and keeps for up to a year due to its hard skin, which prevents rot and mouse damage. When I say early, I am not kidding--direct-sown on July 12, it was the only winter squash that matured by October 1. The flavor is sweet and rich, and the texture is solid and dry enough to be comforting, but moist and smooth enough for good pie. An Idaho heirloom from the Abundant Life collection, this has been virtually unknown to all but a few. Recently several chefs have discovered its great eating quality, and now seed is in short supply. Fun variations in shape and color--some have turbans, and some are darker--but all are peach to orange, round, and average about 5-7 lbs. Our seed was grown by Shane Murphy at Tierra Madre Farm. 20 seeds
After the sprouts are a few inches tall, thin to the best 3 plants per hill. Hoe out all the weeds in the bed or row, piling some dirt at the base of the plants. Then if you put down mulch, it will prevent weeds and keep the squash off of damp soil. If squash bugs are a problem for you, sprinkle well with diatom dust.
Summer squash should be picked every day or two, and eaten while small (6"-8".) The reason people complain about having too many zucchini is that they let them get too big. Store squash in a dry place. Even zucchini keeps better in a dry airy room than in the fridge, where it molds.
Winter squash is ripe when there is no green left in the stem--it should be hard and woody or corky--and the skin should be too hard to poke with a fingernail. Regardless of ripeness, harvest before frost or they will rot. Use any unripe or bruised ones first. The rest should be put indoors to cure for a month before eating. This makes them much sweeter. Handle them gently and wipe if needed but don't wash. They can be stored in any dry place that stays above 50 degrees. Check often for soft spots, and don't forget to use them for soups and pasta as well as roasted and in pie.
Seed saving: Insect-pollinated, requires at least 500 ft isolation in home gardens (1/2 mile if selling seed.) Our offerings include 3 species: Cucurbita pepo (pumpkin, delicatas, acorns, and most summer squash), Cucurbita maxima (Buttercup, Lower Salmon River, Stella Blue, Zapallo), and Cucurbita moschata (Butternut, Tromboncino.) Members of the same species will cross with each other, but not with other species. So if you have the isolation to grow squash seed, you can have one of each species and still save seed.