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Photos of Joseph Lofthouse's Garden  RSS feed

 
Julia Winter
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That is an awesome onion!  Congratulations!
 
John Weiland
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Between the edible dahlias and the ornamental autohybridizing tomatoes, there should be something either to display, eat, or sell at any given time.  Nice photos!....

Joseph, how would you compare some of the qualities, flavor, and storability of the dahlia tubers versus the sunchokes?  If the dahlia bulb is like a water chestnut, that sounds like a pretty nice item to have in the root cellar for adding to winter dishes.  Are there digestibility/intestinal gas issues with it like some have with sunchokes?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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John Weiland wrote:Joseph, how would you compare some of the qualities, flavor, and storability of the dahlia tubers versus the sunchokes?  If the dahlia bulb is like a water chestnut, that sounds like a pretty nice item to have in the root cellar for adding to winter dishes.  Are there digestibility/intestinal gas issues with it like some have with sunchokes?


Currently, in my garden, sunroots are the clear winner in terms of food quality and productivity. We treat both dahlias and sunroots as an incidental ingredient in soups, roasts, or stir-fries, so we haven't experienced digestibility issues with either.

TraitSunrootDahlia
Winter HardyYesNo
StorageEasy long term storage in ground, or in plastic in fridge.Unreliable. Storage quality varies by type, but tends towards poor. 
PreparationWash dirt off and drop in pot.Needs to be peeled.
Consistency After CookingMushy.Crisp.
Suitable For LactofermentationYes, very.Unknown.
FlavorMild when raw, fermented, or with gentle cooking. Too intense when deep fried.Mild. Takes on the flavor of dish.
Suitable for deep fryingNo. Terrible flavor.No. Scorches.
Seed productionDifficult because of late season blooming, predation by birds, and self-incompatibility.Easy with simple-flowered varieties.
Seedling vigorHigh.Moderate.
ProductivityAbout 13 pounds per plant.Up to 4 pounds per plant. Plants can be closer together.
CompetitivenessOutgrows every weed in my garden. Seems to be allelopathic.Easily overrun by weeds.
Ease of harvestLong stolons and/or loose connection to stalk require lots of digging.Short stolons and firm connection to stalk makes harvest trivial.
Floral DisplayVery nice yellow flowers for a few weeks.Prolonged flowering with tremendous variety of colors.
Plant Height7 to 10 feet.2 to 4 feet.
Attractiveness Of Seeds To PredatorsVery!Not at all.
Attractiveness To Pollinators.Haven't paid attention, which I suppose means they are not very attractive. Besides they flower after many pollinators have gone into hibernation.Most attractive plant in my garden for bumblebees. Beloved by honeybees.
InvasivenessVery!!None.
MarketabilityVery good.Seems like a hard sell.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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These lines of tomatoes represent the harvest from F3 tomato plants in the HX family from my promiscuously pollinating tomatoes project. Each line of tomatoes is the entire YTD harvest from one plant. There is a break in the lines between the first harvest and the second harvest. The plants are siblings, descended from the same mother, HX-13. And since the mother had closed flowers they were probably self pollinated. This particular clade doesn't have open flowers, so it is a failure regarding the goals of the project. However, two of the plants produced determinate plants with yellow fruits. I'm hyped about that combination. So I intend to plant those two families next year.

Some of the plants produced well enough that they might be included in landrace seed for next year. Some will definitely be culled: for low productivity, for producing small  tomatoes, or for being susceptible to disease. For example, one of the plants, (third row from the left) was susceptible to a mosaic virus.
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Tomato breeding
 
John Weiland
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That will be an impressive collection of tomato genetics, Joseph.  And thanks for the detailed spreadsheet on the sunroot comparison with dahlia.  Why can't my cell phone provider be as thorough when I ask for a comparison between their services and their closest rival??

With all of the shapes and sizes segregating in your tomato populations, there must be some interesting flavors and textures there as well.  Would enjoy seeing these someday at harvest time!.....
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John:

I used to think that my tomatoes taste horrid. (I don't like tomatoes as a fresh fruit.) Then one day, a friend asked for tomatoes, and I didn't want to go to the farm, so I gave her tomatoes from my brother's garden. I tasted one when I got home, and immediately called to apologize. My brother's tomatoes tasted as bland, and hard as grocery store tomatoes. I was horrified at myself. Therefore, I adopted the policy of tasting every tomato fruit before saving seeds from it. I still mostly don't like the taste of raw tomatoes. But there are a few that I sorta enjoy. And even the worst tasting tomato that I grow has a better flavor and texture than grocery store tomatoes. So I'm doing all-right as far as flavor goes. People sure say positive things about the taste of my tomatoes at the farmer's market! I'm moving more all the time towards yellow/orange/brown tomatoes because I think they taste better.

I found one tomato last year that tasted poisonous, and one that was insipidly watery. I even developed a rating system for ranking taste. It had to be broadly applied, because my tolerance for tasting tomatoes is somewhat limited...

1 = Don't grow it ever. (Roma, grocery-store-like, and many modern hybrids.)
2 = Tastes like a tomato.
3 = Tastes better than a tomato.
3+ = Best tomato I tasted this year. (I acknowledge that three tomatoes got that rating last year, but whatever!)

Best tasting tomato of 2015. A cross between domestic and a wild tomato.


Best tasting tomato of 2015. Another cross between domestic tomatoes and a wild species.


I'm growing lots of seed for each of these this year. The first was good at shedding pollen, cause some of it's traits showed up in varieties with open flowers.

 
Tracy Wandling
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Awesomeness! I love hearing about your experiments and successes. Gives me hope for my own.

I like yellow and orange tomatoes best, too. I find them sweet and less acidic. Quite yummy, and they don't give me indigestion like some red 'tomatoey' tomatoes do. So, those are the types I'm hoping to mostly use for my landrace. Plus, they stand out at the market, when everyone else has red tomatoes. And they're purdy.

Thanks for sharing your garden with us.

Cheers
Tracy
 
Shawn Harper
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I also find reds don't taste as good. Normally yellow pears are my main type, but this year a brown type took best taster.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I'm moving my watermelons strongly in the direction of yellow/orange flesh, because I think that it tastes better than red.

Watermelon Seed Harvest
 
Julia Winter
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My favorite tasting tomatoes are dark and tend to have persistently green shoulders.  "Cherokee Purple" is an heirloom I love.  I had to learn to place them upside down on the counter (never put a tomato in the fridge - it's probably better to just freeze it) or else they would go bad while I waited from them to "finish ripening."  Of course, I also love the golden tomatoes with lots of red striping on the inside, like "Striped German."
 
Bryant RedHawk
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hau kola, This year we got some really good yellows that I plan on crossing with a good red variety next season.

One of our white pumpkins is doing so well I am planning to cross it with one of our orange varieties next year to see how that goes.
We also love our butternuts and I am looking for a different squash to see if I can get some interesting crosses going on the butternut front as well.

Live well and stay strong

Redhawk
 
John Weiland
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@Julia W: "..."Cherokee Purple" is an heirloom I love."

My wife and I were just discussing this over coffee.  A North Dakota adaptation called "Sport" does really well in our garden as an early, prolific red, but is pretty bland on flavor and solids.  The orange one (can't recall name) and "Taxi" (the yellow one) are okay, better on flavor, with Taxi being more watery and the orange more dense.  But "Yugo" has been a good replacement for "Cherokee Purple", which had relatively rapid fruit decline in our location, even with its good flavor:  http://www.24k-heirloomtomatoes.com/My_Homepage_Files/Page22.html

Yugo has a slightly brown shoulder on the fruit, good balance between juice and solids, and has a great flavor for fresh eating.  So it seems that the brown/purple types may have a strong fan club out there.  I may search again for something closer to Purple Cherokee as it was a great tasting 'mater.

Edit:  Just saw that the local seed company is offering Cherokee Purple, so I'm hoping they've been adapting it regionally, maybe for better fruit characteristics: http://www.prairieroadorganic.co/Prairie_Road_Organic_Seed/Tomato_Seed.html
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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On Saturday morning, we had our first fall frost. It nipped some of the squash, beans, okra, and tomatoes in three of my four fields. The previous frost was on July 5th, so that makes the frost free growing season this year 67 days...

I've definitely turned into a seedsman. I haven't taken any muskmelons to market this year. I've been keeping them for myself, and extracting the seeds out of them. That seems like a higher use for them.

I've been dehydrating the muskmelons, or making them into wine. Eventually I intend to make muskmelon vinegar. It's a glorious evening, when I can serve a meal containing fresh muskmelons, muskmelon vinegar, and follow it up with an after-dinner sip of muskmelon wine. Mmm. Mmm. Mmm.



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Muskmelons: 2016-09-11
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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It was very cloudy today, so a pollinator that is more often seen at night came out to play with the edible dahlia flowers.

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Hummingbird moth
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Hummingbird moth
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Hummingbird moth
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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This weekend was a great time to be a farmer.

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At the farmer's market
 
André Troylilas
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Nice winter squashes! Is one of them based on "Longue de Nice"?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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André: Good eye. One of the ancestors of my squash landrace was Courge Longue de Naples. Another ancestor of my current landrace was Pennsylvania Dutch crookneck.

Here's a photo from 7 growing seasons ago, showing what I think may be an ancestor of the largest squash I harvested this week. They are maturing earlier in the season now than when I first started growing them.

7 growing seasons ago. Courge Longue de Naples.


This week.


The earliest beginnings of my moschata squash landrace. They were harvested very immature. 75% of the varieties that I planted failed to produce viable seed.

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I'm curing some squash in the greenhouse. These particular squash are for seeds. I think that the warmer temperatures in the greenhouse will help the seeds mature better. I typically keep them covered with a sheet to minimize sunburn.

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maxima, mixta, lagenaria, and moschata squash
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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My apologies ahead of time for the photo I'm about to show. It's how my family and community have been farming since we moved to our village 156 years ago: The permanent-agri-culture for our village. It would require 104 cubic yards of compost to mulch the field 4 inches deep. Composted manure is on sale today for $36.77 per cubic yard, plus delivery. So for a cool $4000 I could have mulched the field. What's that work out to? The mulch would cost about 10 times more than the squash that the field produces...

Because of heavy predation by birds and mammals, I only grow squash in this field. Immediately after harvest, I tilled the squash vines back into the soil, and planted a cover crop: The seeds in the cover crop mix included, but were not limited to: shelling peas, Austrian winter peas, soup peas, favas, garbanzos, lentils, corn, milo, safflower, millet, sunflower, wheat, rye, breadseed, cilantro, spinach, mustard, bok choi, turnip, onion, tomatillos, dill. etc.

Some of the species aren't particularly suited for use as a fall cover crop, but I make due with what's available. Even if a seed only goes into the ground and dies immediately, (like the corn), it has still provided some nutrition to the soil.

There are about 4 weeks of growing season yet this fall before the snow arrives, and about 9 weeks in the spring after it melts. Then I'll be preparing the field for planting squash again.

And a photo of what the field looked like a month ago.

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Cover crop planted.
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Squash field, just before first harvest. (There were 2 harvests this year.)
 
John Weiland
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So with the exception of the cover crops, is this a squash-on-squash rotation on this plot of land for many years running?  Always interesting to know of examples where "standard" crop rotation is not used and yet the plots remain productive.  The types and sources of replenishing inputs are likely to be key.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John:

This is the third year that I have grown squash/melons in this field. Growth seemed low this year, so in the fall, I planted a cover crop. There was zero rain this year on the crop, and I irrigate only in a furrow right next to the plants, so the roots could have had a hard time moving laterally in search of nutrients and water. I have collected seed from one of the legumous weeds in another field, and intend to introduce it into the squash field next year: Black medic, Medicago lupulina.

There sure is a huge population of squash bees in this field!!! I didn't notice any squash bugs in this field this year. 
 
Dan Boone
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:The seeds in the cover crop mix included, but were not limited to: shelling peas, Austrian winter peas, soup peas, favas, garbanzos, lentils, corn, milo, safflower, millet, sunflower, wheat, rye, breadseed, cilantro, spinach, mustard, bok choi, turnip, onion, tomatillos, dill. etc.


The diversity of this mix really catches my attention and fires my imagination!  I assume that some of it involves getting rid of old or surplus seed you don't expect to need for growing crops.  Are you buying some component of it, using surpluses sourced locally within your community, or...?  Thrust of my question is not so much "where do you get your seed" as "are you going out of your way and expending resources to achieve this diversity, or is it the happy accidental result of whatever means you're using to source your cover crop seed?"
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Dan:

About half of the seed I planted came from a bag of "pigeon food" that I sourced at the local farmer's coop. It contained two kinds of peas, safflower, popcorn, milo, and wheat. The corn and milo seem iffy, but the seed ended up costing 50 cents per pound. The millet is from an old bag of birdseed. The garbanzos, lentils, and dill came from the grocery store. The rest of the seed was excess from my seed stash. I've been planning this cover crop for a few months, so I had fun cleaning the seed room.
 
Dan Boone
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Awesome!  That's about what I figured, but the pigeon food explains a few of the odder items I didn't figure you would either purchase specifically or be likely to have in surplus.
 
Michael Lackey
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    Good Afternoon Joseph, Have enjoyed reading your post on landrace crops.  I live in a somewhat similar environment.  USDA says that I live in Zone 5a. Elevation 7950 ft. 10-12 inches of rainfall, soil glacial till.   Snowed this Morning and have been seeing frost touched leaves on my tomatoes for several weeks.  I have been raising a Brandywine tomato and a commercial grape tomato that I had kept seeds from. (industrialized flowers)  I definitely have the same feelings for tomatoes that you do. I love them in salsa's and sauces but do not care for them when they are fresh.  I do ask my wife what she thinks about their taste. I look forward to ordering seed when you have them available this spring.  I believe wholeheartedly in what you are doing.   I will also keep a lookout for silver dimes.  Have a great day Mike
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I keep piling the squash higher and deeper in the greenhouse.
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Curing squash in greenhouse prior to extracting seeds.
 
Michael Lackey
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I only had a few tomatoes ripen on the vine, most of what I grew are in a brown paper sack with a apple
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I was finally able to grow a great crop of carrots. I had to develop my own variety that can out-compete the weeds, but whatever, it's what I do.

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Finally! Carrots that can out-compete the weeds.
 
John Weiland
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Joseph....nice carrots (and wardrobe!  ).  Will these carrots have seed represented in your catalog for next year or will seed availability for these be a bit farther down the road?

As a side note, what would be a good introductory preparation method/dish for sunchokes?  Thanks!.....
 
Jason Padvorac
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I second the interest in seeds for weed-outcompeting carrots. What is the parentage like for those beauties?
 
Marla Kacey
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WOW!  One wouldn't need many of those to stock the pantry!  How do they taste?
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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John: Thanks.  I didn't grow carrot seed this year, so I won't be adding it to my seed catalog, but there may be some 2015 seed available for sharing with those that know to ask for it. I put a lot of carrots into a root-pit with the intention of growing seed next growing season.

We have found that the easiest way to incorporate sunroots into our diet is to add them to what we are already cooking. We make a lot of soups, roasts,  and stir-fries using whatever is available from the garden,  so it's easy to include a few sunroots. We typically leave the skins on, just wash, slice, and add to the pot. Definitely don't deep fry them! Unless you like the taste of sunflower resin. The past few years, we have been making lacto-fermented sunroots, usually as a medley with cabbage, carrots, onions, beets, and similar things.

Jason: I have been working on these carrots for 8 years now. They started out as a mix of whatever varieties I could get at my local nursery, or from the grocery store, and included the Pinetree garden mix, and seeds I got from swaps. That was a disaster!!! Many of them were hybrid carrots that were male sterile, so they didn't make pollen. They grew fine, and made seeds fine, but I am philosophically opposed to  growing plants that don't make pollen, so I culled heavily to remove the sterile plants. My soil is clay-like, so it's really hard to dig carrots, so I eliminated long/skinny carrots to focus on shorter/fatter carrots. I still broke a digging fork this fall trying to dig carrots. Chatenay, Danvers Half-Long, and Nantes ended up contributing heavily to the population.

A few years ago, I had basically given up on carrots, because they were too hard to weed. But then I starting thinking about weeding, and how plants respond to their growing conditions, so if weeding is too hard for me with carrots, then I should grow carrots without weeding, so that I can select for carrots that out-compete the weeds. So that''s what I did. I grew a couple of carrot crops, one without weeding at all, and one with only one weeding. And then I grew seeds from those that survived the best. And planted the seeds, then culled to only the fastest growing most weed-resistant plants.  The result is carrots weighing 3 pounds!!! And many of the leaves were 2 feet tall with a thick, closed canopy. That's some serious competition to my local weeds!

Marla: Taste is great. I am especially enjoying the yellow carrots.

I got a culinary report today regarding that purple carrot. It fires up my imagination!


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Culinary Report: Purple carrot.
 
Casie Becker
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Every time this thread pops up right now I am amazed again by the glowing yellow carrot. You sure someone didn't sneak some uranium into your fields?
 
John Weiland
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@Casie B: "You sure someone didn't sneak some uranium into your fields?  "

You may be onto something.....he is only a mountain-pass removed from the old Morton-Thiokol!...

Thanks for the tips on the sunroots, Joseph.  They will be in a soup this weekend with the parsnips and other items.  Really encouraging to see the success of breeding toward hardiness and simplicity...those carrots are a great example.  And the purple carrots I've had have a unique and excellent flavor, especially as a side to roasts or in stews.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I've been working on harvesting the flour corn:

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Unity Flour Corn
 
Maureen Atsali
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These photos are gorgeous!  I love the hummingbird shot.  If you get tired of gardening, you can become a photographer.

I have a question - I am in Kenya, a half hour or so from the equator.  I attempted to grow some heirloom squashes from seed that I imported, and none of it did well - it all got fungal wilt or was invaded by fruit flies.  However, there are "indigenous" squash varieties that DO work here... they seem to have developed and adapted to the weather conditions and the insect problems.  That's what I grow now... I call them mystery squashes, because I can't identify them.  If I sent pics of the seeds, leaves or fruits, do you think you would be able to identify them?  You seem to be the resident squash expert!

And another question... do you think dahlias would grow here??

Maureen Atsali
ASF Farm - Kenya
actualmaureen@yahoo.com
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2432
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
443
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
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Maureen: Thanks. I am unfamiliar with many of the southern species of squash, but post photos. If I'm clueless, then some of your neighbors might know them. We already have a squash identification thread started at: https://permies.com/t/46560/Maxima-Moschata-Pepo Photos of seeds, leaves, flowers, fruits, and fruit stems would be helpful in identification. Try the dahlias and let us know...
 
Maureen Atsali
pollinator
Posts: 354
Location: Western Kenya
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thanks Joseph.  I am on vacation right now, will see what I can photograph when I get home.
 
John Weiland
Posts: 844
Location: RRV of da Nort
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Great corn colors, Joseph.  You could make cornbread from each type and display the different color breads alongside of each originating cob at your veggie stand.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2432
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
443
bee chicken food preservation fungi greening the desert
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This squash is from one of my breeding projects. It is an inter-species hybrid between mixta and moschata squash. Taste was blah. I'm thrilled with the colors of the flesh, and of the skin!



cucurbita-lofthousii.jpg
[Thumbnail for cucurbita-lofthousii.jpg]
Hybrid between Cucurbita argyrosperma and C. moschata.
 
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