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Squash, corn, varieties, oh my!

 
pollinator
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Hey yall, trying to get the plan started for the garden next year and be as prepared as possible. I want to keep as much seed as possible and be having seed that can become generations of plants that are used to my garden, my climate, etc. Some things I would like to keep as it's own variety and I'm curious if I need more information on placement.

Ohio. Last frost est May 5. First frost est Oct 8. Est 155 days.
Planning to get silage tarp to solarize and help prep garden. 24ft x 105ft. Hopefully will be two areas that size, separated by a few hundred feet.

-Lemon squash, mixta, summer.
-Connecticut field pumpkin, pepo, 100 days, ~20#
-New England sugar pie pumpkin, pepo, 100 days, 4-5#
-Acorn squash, pepo, 80 days, 1-2#
-Butternut rogosa violina gioia squash, moschata, 100 days
-Georgia candy roaster, maxima, ~10#
-Jarrahdale squash, maxima, 100 days, ~6-10#, blue!
-Nanticoke squash, maxima

I'm still sorting out which family can or can't cross, or extremely unlikely to anyhow. The lemon squash could put in large containers if needed to grow them well away from the rest. They are very small lemon sized summer squash and I'm sure would be very wacky crossed with anything of the rest! If anyone has approximate weights or days to harvest for the ones I didn't list I'd be interested to have an idea to go off of, weren't listed on the seed sites.
I know for sure that I like butternut and wanted to grow those to themselves for 'pure' variety seed. Same for the Acorn.
The field and pie pumpkins I'm not too concerned about, I can just keep seed from them and end up with pumpkins of various sizes. I can grow excess of these because they make terrific feed to flush the sheep preparing for breeding.
Georgia roasters I'm not sure how they will fare, I got interested in them via a friend but I think they are quite long season. I think she grew them like three years, one with no ripened fruits, one with half fruits ripened, and one year they did great. So I'm guessing a more southern variety, as per the namesake state. So I'd like to do these themselves just to make sure they don't cross into the others.
The Jarrahdale I got purely because they are soooo pretty! And as I said, I won't be overrun really with pumpkins. I would definitely be interested to try crossing this to see what happens but I'd love to have some that are 'pure' variety.
The Nanticoke I got because I binge read all of Joseph Lofthouse's posts and listened to the podcasts with him and Paul. So I ordered seed from Experimental farm network.. And if I'm going to order then order everything!!! So now I'm hooked on landraces...

With so many varieties and seed I was thinking to plan for maybe 5 plants of each? That way it won't be The End if one or two die off etc, and I won't need to plan whole plots of each type. Next year I'm hoping to optimize trying lots of things and in the future I can par down as needed for what does well or what I like.

I have alot of different things to go in the garden. As I've seen in other threads, the farther apart the varieties are, the safer from cross pollinating. And when there is alot of plants like the garden the bees will go along your squash a while, then along the beans for a while, then the tomatoes a while,... So if there is many things between the varieties of squash then you should also be safer from cross pollinating. Did I understand that correctly?
So for my 105ft garden am I better off to do say either far end with a variety? If I put another variety in the middle am I asking for cross pollination?

I also have several varieties and landraces of corn I'd like to try. Again, I'm happy to do smaller stands of them to test how they do here before paring down to what I want. I was thinking sweet corn in one garden section and the high carotene corn in the second garden section a few hundred feet away. Then if possible find places a few hundred feet away for a small plot of only the flour corn, and another for only the grain corn. If not I can pick two to do next year and the other two the following year. How far is fairly safe for corn varieties?
I am really excited about the flour corn because my dad is the miller of the local historical society. He's in charge of the antique flour mill equipment. So I can very easily have grain custom milled and could setup to use the working antique seed cleaner.
-Dorinny sweet corn, 75 days, 4-5ft tall
-Lofthouse flour corn
-Lofthouse high carotene flint corn
-Harmony grain corn
 
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I grew Nanticoke squash last year, it's quite an easy way to get into landrace gardening - very diverse colors and shapes in there.
Quite a bit of variation in taste as well.
Here's what I got from those plants



If you really want to keep things from cross-breeding, then yes, more distance and a barrier of sorts would definitely help.
I think the lemon summer squash is actually a pepo and not mixta, so if possible keep it well away from other pepos.

 
master pollinator
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With the corn, you might consider growing the different varieties next to each other.  As long as they don't tassel at the same time, they won't cross.

If the time to harvest is 2 weeks apart, tasseling may not overlap. Maybe sow one variety as soon as possible,  and wait 2 weeks to sow the next variety.
 
pollinator
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Your plan for the barriers and distance between squash sounds good to me. You can always rogue out an occasional cross, if needed. I'd be nervous with only five plants of each for pollinating, but my bees might be kinda dumb.

I grew Nanticoke either last year or the year before and didn't like them much. I found they were quite watery compared to the maxima mix I usually grow. It's got kabocha, buttercup, galeux d'eysines, hubbard, and probably some other ancestors. And I didn't like the flavour of a few of the Nanticokes AT ALL. There was one that tasted very strongly of cucumber. That in itself might not have been bad, but the mealy texture made it pretty gaggy.
 
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In more than a decade of growing thousands of squash per year, of all species, all jumbled up, I have only noticed one naturally occurring hybrid involving pepo/maxima/moschata. And the seeds didn't germinate, so it was lost.

I consider mixta and moschata to not quite be separate species. I observe occasional crossing between them, with moschata donating pollen to mixta.

The pepo are difficult. Acorn and Connecticut field pumpkin are different sub-species. Crosses between them are troublesome for me. Too hard to work with. For that reason, I only grow one sub-species or the other, but not both. For example, I grow Acorn and Delicata squash together, because crosses between them are still nice small winter squash that taste great.

I grow all maxima squash together, without regard for variety names or crossing. Then select for fruits that weigh from 3 to 10 pounds. and taste great. I don't care about shape of skin coloration.

I treat the moschata squash the same way, selecting for fruits from 5 to 15 pounds. I generally prefer long-necked for ease of use in the kitchen, but keep a few round squash seeds for the sake of genetic diversity.

In every squash species, I select for dark yellow/orange, for the sake of improved flavor and nutrition.

In a ten mph wind (the average at my garden) corn pollen falls below silk level by 25 feet.

I see around 5% cross pollination rate on squash planted 100 feet apart.

maxima-medium-2015.jpg
Maxima squash
Maxima squash
 
kadence blevins
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Thanks all! Baker creek is where I got the lemon squash seed from, they list it as mixta. A quick search turned it up on another site listed as cucurbita pepo. So I will err on the cautious side and see if I can plant them quite away from the others.

I saw acorns were pepo turbinata, after the wiki rabbithole reading up on the different family branches of squash. Good to know.

So as a rule the family names won't cross, just within the same family name. ...with the rare moschata being a pollen dad to mixta. Got it!

I still need to look at space needs for everything. I'm thinking if I plant the squashes at the far ends and run the vines out then I can optimize ground space for the rest of the plants.
 
kadence blevins
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Ok I'm trying to plot out things on graph paper finally. So just to triple check myself... I should be able to alternate the families (pepo, maxima, moschata) and the families will very very rarely pollinate between them and the offspring if it does happen will be the oddball seedless fruits?

10ft long rows, same variety rows 6ft apart. When change in variety will be 10ft between rows. Trying to make it in blocks instead of rows to spread apart the families. Would this work to minimize cross pollinating like between lemon and acorn,.. between jarrahdale and Georgia roaster, etc to separate the families like this?
I was going to let the pie and field pumpkins cross pollinate, they will be mostly to feed the livestock anyway.

Nanticoke, maxima, 2 rows.
Butternut, moschata, 1 row.
Acorn, pepo, 2 row.
-(Blocks of corn and veg)-
Jarrahdale, maxima, 1 row.
Butternut, moschata, 1 row.
Lemon, pepo, 2 row.
-(Blocks of corn and veg)-
Georgia roaster, maxima, 2 row.
Sugar pie pumpkin, pepo, 2 row.
Connecticut field pumpkin, pepo, 2 row.
 
kadence blevins
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Ok.. full stop.. haha..
I figured out how to do the corn to minimize cross pollination. We'll see how it goes. The sweet corn is 75 day so it can go next to the harmony grain corn, 85-115 day. Then as far as I can make it (about 100ft) another block will have the high carotene corn and flour corn, both 100 days, which will be planted two weeks apart.

I finally decided to just hand pollinate a bunch of the squash. I'm going into this with the idea that I'm going to narrow down what works for me and what I like. So I can hand pollinate some for purity that I can keep pure seed from.
But... Since I'm going to try hand pollinating why not play? Haha.. So I've listed what to hand pollinate to attempt cross breeding and see how it goes. I've been doing some more research and it seems like some people report Moschata crosses work more often when the Moschata is the female of the cross. So I'm going to try a bunch of crosses that way just to see.

Butternut pure (Moschata)
x acorn
x pie pumpkin
x Nanticoke
x jarrahdale
x candy roaster

Field pumpkin x pie pumpkin (pepo)

Pie pumpkin pure (pepo)
x field pumpkin

Nanticoke pure (maxima)
x jarrahdale
x roaster

Jarrahdale pure (maxima)
x Nanticoke
x roaster

Candy roaster pure (maxima)
x Nanticoke
x jarrahdale

I don't like acorn that much so I'm not going to worry about them, they'll just be for eating. The lemon I'm doing for fun really, so I likely won't bother with them unless they turn out super awesome. Then I'll just hand pollinate a couple for seed.
 
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I feel you might be help to clarify these issues for yourself and get more useful information online and in books if you call pepo, maxima, moschata and mixta "species" rather than "families." The common terminology is that these are all species in the Cucurbita genus, which is in turn in the Cucurbitaceae family, commonly known as the cucurbits. The family includes melons and cukes and several other genuses.

Things in the cucurbit family but not in the same species are unlikely to cross. As Joseph said, even between two species in the genus, crosses are rare, often sterile, and he has mentioned which types of such crosses he has seen work. But crosses within species are common and easy. I've seen Joseph point out that the C. pepo varieties are so different from each other that they are hardly worth crossing (spaghetti squash, acorn, delicata, zucchini, yellow summer, patty pan, and toxic bitter ornamental gourds). Only the acorn and delicata are worth crossing together because they are similar winter squash, and the zucchini and summer squash varieties are similar enough to give a similar summer squash outcome. With C. maxima, the varieties are pretty much all used as winter squash or, in the US, ornamental pumpkins. As long as you are crossing maximas that are used as winter squash, and you want a variety of winter squash that works well in your conditions, then you can cross maximas as much as you like.

Why are you trying to cross between species? What is your goal? For example, I don't understand why you want to cross an acorn (C. pepo species) with a butternut (C. moschata species).

In order to get some landraces that produce well in your conditions, what I've learned (from reading, not personal experience, so I'll be happy to see corrections) is to plant a couple different varieties (of the same species) that do well in the specific conditions or have other desired characteristics (such as flavor, storage, shape, size, resistance to some problem you've got in your area, etc.) and let them cross. If one of them turns out to be great in the first generation, then my choice would be to discard the crossed seeds, and the next year only plant several of the old original seeds, and then keep using their offspring.

I bought C. maxima seeds from Joseph Lofthouse several years ago and have been growing them. Last year I also grew delicatas but they are C. pepo so they won't have crossed. Last year, I also grew some C. maximas that a Japanese friend gave me saying they were from Hokkaido, but I think they are what is generally called kabocha in the US (which turns out to be the generic Japanese word for C. maxima). Anyway, the Lofthouse maximas are great in many ways: flavor, productivity, ability to grow and ripen by direct seeding or transplanting (the transplanted plants get much larger and produce earlier, and about 5 times the weight of squash than the direct seeded plants). Previous years they stored great until March or April. The only drawback is most of them are so huge that we can't use one up before it goes moldy, and there isn't always space in the freezer to keep some for later. The kabocha is much smaller and similarly tasty. So I thought this year I should save seeds from the Lofthouse squash and kabocha that grew next to each other, aiming for an intermediate size. ... but!

But then all the kabocha developed mold in January so I had to use them up hastily. And most of the Lofthouses developed spots that were going to go moldy in Feb so I am using them up hastily. The ones that went off were all from one Lofthouse plant, a very productive transplanted one. So I scrapped that plan. There's one Lofthouse squash left now, of a very different shape. It's still in good condition, though it was one of those direct seeded plants and I wasn't even sure if it was ripe and mature before harvesting it. So now I'm planning to save seeds from it, and in 2022 I will plant some seeds from this one, that may have crossed with the small kabocha. And I'll plant some of the original seeds I got from Joseph too.

So here are the traits I'm hoping to breed for:
Flavor: Both the Lofthouse maximas and the kabochas are excellent.
Storage: This is very important, as my region gets a few months when fresh vegetables are hard to buy, Jan-April.
Size: My ideal size would be intermediate between the kabochas and the Lofthouse maximas. But this trait is less essential than flavor and storage.
There haven't been any problems, pests, or diseases on my squash plants so far, except mild late powdery mildew that hasn't been a problem, so I'm not trying to breed for resistance.

So my question to you is, what are your squash breeding goals?
 
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