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The services of squash

 
Tate Smith
Posts: 53
Location: Cheyenne, WY
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forest garden greening the desert hugelkultur trees
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So, I have been trying to convince my father that squash would be a great plant to grow in the degraded sections of his pastures. He lives in southern Colorado and yellow squash grows absolutely fantastic there. He started his garden the conventional way 8 years ago and had volunteer squash taking it over the next summer (they really don't need any help to do well on his farm). So he has some acreage that is in a cedar (juniper) dense population. He would like to get grass started underneath these trees. However, the soil is extremely poor due to the junipers shading and poisoning everything around them. We plan to cut swaths of junipers out to remove that problem. But in a 10 inch precip zone organic matter does not quickly establish in the soil. I came up with the idea to plant squash all through this area. Its produces a ton of bio matter for the space it takes up and will do well in the poor soils. In order to convince him of this I have created a list of ecological services the squash provides. I would like some more ideas if you have any.

1) Shading  weed growth and suppressing weeds.
2)Creation of food!
3)Creation of food to sell!
4)High organic matter deposition to the soil
5)Soil retention by the roots
6)Edible fodder for livestock
7)Livestock make poo
Poo feeds the soil good things
9)Self seeding and spreads like wildfire
10)Roots open up compacted soil for water and air movement.

Any other ideas you may have would be well appreciated thanks!!
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Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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well unless you are planting an heirloom, self seeding isn't going to work out too well as you may get inedible products, but if you stick with an heirloom you are likely to have it work well. I also would question whether the roots of the plants should be under the trees, however, some squash do climb so the trees could also become trellises for them...but I'd put the roots outside of the tree line and in the sun.
 
Mary Saunders
Posts: 92
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Squashes readily cross, but zumpkins are cute (it sounds better than puchinnis).

I like winter squashes because many of them are such a wonderful color inside and they store so well. 

The Resilient Gardner, by Carol Deppe, has quite a bit on squashes.  There are some really hardy and productive types that breed true.
 
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