Question: What vegetable is over 500 years old, is resistant to vine borers, can last a year in storage, is sweet, works in a three sisters garden, remains productive in dry & hot conditions, and is listed as one of America’s endangered food crop varieties?
If you were clever enough to read the title of the article, then you probably guessed it: Seminole Squash! So why not consider growing Seminole squash in your home garden this year? Here’s how…
Growing Seminole Squash From Seed
Seminole squash is a variety of winter squash. This variety is ready for harvest in about 120 days. Like most winter squash, you have to wait until late spring to get started, when nighttime temperatures are at least 50 degrees. You can plant your seeds directly into the ground OR start them indoors. Squash seedlings only need about two weeks before they are ready for transplanting.
Sow four seeds per hill (see below), leaving about eight feet on each side for them to grow. Or you can put two transplants in each hill. When transplanting squash, just be very careful not to bend the stem. A bent stem is almost a certain death sentence for squash plants.
Planting Seminole Squash — and prepping the beds
There are many advantages to growing Seminole squash…but saving space in the garden is NOT one of them. These squash plants are sprawlers! Vines can easily grow fifteen feet, and it’s not unheard of for them to reach thirty. If you have a small garden, a compact butternut squash might be a better winter squash for you to grow.
Winter squash grows best in slightly acidic soil — a pH of about six is ideal. Dig the soil about a foot deep and add couple inches of compost. For the best results, you may also want to use a liquid fertilizer to give your plants a jump start. Your hills (short mounds of enriched soil) should be at least seven feet apart to accommodate the plant’s sprawling habit.
If you want to use Seminole squash as part of a three sisters garden, set a squash hill every seven feet, with two each of your chosen corn and bean plants planted in between. Another option is to grow the squash plants in the center of the garden and grow the corn and bean plants around the perimeter.
Seminole Squash Care and Harvesting
Seminole squash is not a fussy grower. Vine borers are seldom a problem. Row covers are seldom needed. Fruits are rarely damaged by high temperatures, while most other winter squashes are literally cooking on the ground. Just be sure to give plants some extra water when there is little rainfall, and you should be fine.
Each plant should set about four tear-dropped fruits, more or less depending on size. The squashes are ripe when the vines begin to die back. Another indication that your fruits are ready is that the rind becomes hard enough not to be easily punctured with a fingernail. While the fruit is growing, the squash will be a dark green color which will eventually fade to a tan color.
Store newly harvested squashes in a warm, dry place while they cure — about two weeks. After that, you can move them to any cool, dark, dry place — where they will keep for a year if need be. When it’s time to eat, crack open the squash like you would a coconut, since the rind is so hard. Each squash is about three pounds, and has about three servings, due to the large seed cavity.
Hope you give them a try. If you do, let me know how it goes!
P.S. — Since Seminole squash is open pollinated you can save your own seed! Is this a great plant or what?