Squash Grexes

To everyone who requested the maxima, moschata, and/or pepo grexes, we would be very glad to hear how the seeds do for you this year. Photos, descriptions of your growing conditions, unexpected challenges, etc., are all welcome here. The strength of this community comes from sharing our experiences, both good and bad. And, of course, we hope you will plan to save seeds from your harvest to contribute to next year’s grexes.

Also, please welcome @UnicornEmily who has joined me as a squash steward!!! She will be in charge of the pepo grexes and a new grex for Figleaf Gourd (Cucurbita ficifolia).

Wishing you all a great growing season, and looking forward to hearing from you.


Just put mine in the ground today, don’t have room for a ton of them, but i’ll save what I get and return most of the seeds

I was unable to get the seeds due to location (I am in Europe) but I will be reporting on my maxima grex that is in its second year of selection. In the first year it contained some seeds from the Lofthouse landrace that I have got from Julia, mixed with a number of varieties available locally here in Poland, so it is a bit relevant. I have collected and selected seeds from last year’s harvest, looking for best tasting and able to store for a long time. Today, I have made an initial mix for sowing tomorrow. I grow squash in strawbales and in soil, so I prepare some seeldings for the first, and direct sow in the latter.

@silkcom Just wondering, if any of the seeds don’t germinate or get munched by a hungry snail, will you sow another squash seed in its place? Or have you already accounted for a certain amount of loss? Or maybe you have transplants of another species to fill in the gap?

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@WojciechG It’ll be interesting to see how your landrace develops. Do you find that the squash plants grow equally well in strawbales vs soil? Do you keep the seeds harvested from strawbales separate from those grown in soil? Is there a specific method you use to prepare the strawbales? Perhaps you can share a link to a description if it’s easy.

i put 6 or 7 seeds per area that i plan on having one. if it does die then i would either try another seed or put a tomato or something in it’s place :slight_smile:

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I do not keep seeds separate. In my place soil is very infertile (97% sand), and I grow main crops in soil in deep mulch, be it straw, hay, autumn leaves, etc. Crops grow equally well in soil and in strawbales. Yes, strawbales need to be prepared for growing, they have to start composting inside before you put seedlings into them. There are several methods of doing so, the most popular is to put a nitrogen rich fertilizer on the bales, water it, an repeat that process every second day, for two weeks. Since I do not use chemical fertilizers, I prepare my bales by putting organic fertilizers like granulated manures, blood meal, nettle tea etc. on the bales, and I start preparing them about 2 months ahead since it goes slower than with chamicals. Here is a good guide that describes this method:

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Thanks for the link. It seems very straightforward. I was wondering if bags of autumn leaves could be used in a similar way. Is it important that the sides of the straw bale are exposed to air? Leaves can hold moisture, but maybe there’s something about the hollow straw stems that make them better at holding water?

Yes, you place a strawbales in a way that the straws are vertically. Water easily goes both into the straws and in between them. Hard to mimic with leaves I suppose. I use all autumn fallen leaves as a deep mulch, I pile them during one day in November, they decompose and reduce in volume over winter. In spring, the garden is ready to plant, I just make a hole in a layer of leaves and either put a seedling, or a handful of compost and direct seed.

A bit less than 48 hours - seeds are sprouting.


Wow, so quick! They are ready to get going.

I was inspecting one of my hugelkultur beds today. I had cut a kabocha squash about a month ago. Instead of saving the seeds, I planted them right away in the hugel bed. Some have germinated. Now we’ll see if their roots will find their way down far enough to get enough moisture.


We added the 25 GTS maxima squash seeds to our existing maxima landrace. Our existing landrace started a number of years ago when I obtained Lofthouse Maxima Landrace seeds from Joseph. We grew them out locally 3 times at our seed garden, and added Carol Deppe’s Sweet Meat Oregon Homestead to the mix.

We are doing a 2023 Adopt a Clackamas Squash - A Pilot Project in Landrace Seed Saving though our 7 local seed libraries. This program is our version of the Seed Libraries “Grow A Row” program. We’ve currently got 92 people signed up to grow out the squash and save seeds.

Here’s our current squash planting at our seed garden.

And here’s what our maxima landrace looked like a couple years ago.


@KayEverts Thanks for sharing the photos. Love the diversity in shapes and color. How many do you finally let stay in each spot?

In this 3’ x 8’ bed we have 3 clumps (I don’t call them mounds because we don’t mound them) and we will thin each clump to 3.

92 People growing your local maxima landrace is incredible!! I found this photo to share with others. Love to hear more-- are you considering a community squash tasting at the end of the season? @anna


This is fantastic! Focusing in on a single crop that lots of people love seems like a really smart tactic.

I like the monthly email idea as well, would be interested in how that goes/how it is received. Do people respond to that email? I think that sharing of progress and pictures through the season can be so fun and motivating for participants, but it’s hard to get people to join an online community (like this one) for a project – it’s just too much for a lot of people.

If you are interested in a harvest/tasting/seed saving event, I’d love to collaborate. I’m working on something similar with a group Julia spoke to here in the SF bay area.

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Haven’t thinned yet. Probably should take it down to 2 per spot but I’m likely to leave 3. Since they will grow up a trellis, the leaves should get a lot of sunlight so I think 3 will work.

That’s great! I haven’t figured out the celebration yet. We are very limited in where we can have it. There won’t be any facilities to cook anything and I’m not sure anyone will want to taste raw winter squash. I’m not a good party planner.

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I planted about 100 moschata seeds. A few days ago, I counted about 40 that had germinated. Today, there seems to be fewer than half. The snails are doing the thinning for me. I’m not actively killing snails, although I will relocate them sometimes. I wonder how easily they can find their way back.

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Snails have eaten all but 2 of my moschata sprouts. Yesterday I went through the beds and collected as many snails as I could find. Must have been well over a hundred. I direct sowed more seeds and also started some in trays. I’ve accepted that I’ll have to help the baby plants until they’ve established themselves. Have to get to first base before we can have cross-pollination!

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