General News · 27th March 2020
Hey there folks,
Sitting here at home thinking about food security and such things for our Island and beyond, I had some thoughts about Squash. Squash is a highly nutritious and delicious food, both for humans and animals and it can be stored for many many months, providing sustenance through the winter months. It is getting increasingly more difficult to order seeds as the demand increases exponentially for local food growing/sourcing. In the event that the demand becomes even more strained, its important that we are able to continue to keep a variety of seeds available for future crops.
Different varieties of squash have different benefits including; strengthening the immune system, improving vision, cancer prevention, diabetes management, bone building, protecting heart health, and reducing insomnia. It also helps prevent inflammatory conditions, relieves symptoms of arthritis, eliminates ulcers, eliminates parasites and infections, improves prostate health, protects against birth defects, boosts respiratory health, and reduces blood pressure. Squash also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and can help reduce asthma symptoms. It can be fed to dogs and cats as a healthy supplement to their diet.
Squash can store easily for a very long time. I have even had squash last for up to a year, without any special storage. However there are recommendations for storing squash that help prolong its storage time.
Squash is a member of the Cucurbitaceae or Cucumber family which includes summer squash, zucchini, winter squash, mirliton, pumpkin, gourd, cucuzzi, watermelon, cantaloupe, cushaw, luffa and cucumber.
Unfortunately, saving seed from squash for future crops takes space, as varieties grown in close proximity will cross pollinate,resulting in a seed that produces an unreliable fruit, one that will not retain the same genetics, flavour and storage capacity.
In order to produce squash seeds for re-planting, it is recommended that varieties be planted at least 300 meters apart. Either that or flowers have to be meticulously prevented from cross pollination.++++**
Which is why I’m proposing a Cucurbitaceae seed bank for our community.
Here’s what’s needed for support:
Land at a distance/large farms: provide a growing space for at least one variety of Squash, at least 1km away from your neighbours garden, so that variety can be saved and used for seed bank. This may require the participation of farmers on surrounding small islands in order to maintain a good amount of varieties. Ideally this space would be protected from deer, they have been known to nibble on squash starts. Note that you will not be able to grow any varieties from the Cucurbitaceae family within 300meters of the crop.
Seed varieties: Seed donations, can be just a few seeds, remember that only one plant can produce several Squash and many many seeds. Seeds can be stored for up to 5 years and still germinate. If you have a few squash/cucumber/zucchini varieties, heirloom/rare varieties that grow well in our climate, if you could consider donating a few seeds to keep the variety viable here on Cortes and surrounding areas.
Manure/compost: Squash are heavy feeders, we may need some manure/compost donations for soils that need augmenting.
Volunteers: A few people to help manage throughout the growing season, to check in on the crops, deliver amendments, harvesting and curing, distribution etc.
The idea is to keep a steady supply of varieties for at least the coming year to supply our local food growers and small gardeners as well.
Let’s see how many varieties we can keep going!!!
Please send me an email if you are willing and able to be involved in this initiative, or have any input or ideas to share.