Thursday, October 20, 2011

Seed saving with Lakota squash

The fall harvest time is here and with that alot of seed cleaning. The Lakota squash has been being harvested for awhile now. It seems like only a few weeks ago we thought this time would never come soon enough to be able to use these wonderful treasures to make our favorite soup again. No matter how much we put away for winter we always end up running out by March or April.

                                The Lakota was voted "Best tasting" squash in the U.P. !

The Lakota will store well through the winter if it is kept in a cool dry location. We like to bring one out to bake with dinner, then use the left over squash for squash soup or muffins.

Lakota  Cucurbita maxima
This is a hubbard type squash that grows to about 7-8 lbs. and will normally have 3-5 squash per plant. It does very well in Northern climates where many other squash have a hard time reaching maturity.

When saving seeds it is important that the squash plants have been isolated from other types of squash to prevent cross-pollination with an isolation distance of at least 1/2 mile ,this is the only way to insure that the seeds that are saved will be true to this variety of squash and not create a hybrid. It is also important to save seeds from the squash of at least 24 plants.

First cut your squash from the vine leaving about 3-4 inches of the vine attached. Let it set for about three weeks. A light frost is benneficial but not a hard freeze that would damage the squash and create a way for mold to set in. I usually will harvest the squash as it is ready and lay them out on skids so that they are not laying on the damp ground, if it looks as though it will freeze at night then it's easy to just cover them up with a tarp or blanket, then take it back off during the day.


Because of it's hard shell and size sometimes this squash is not so easy to cut open. A safer way to break open this squash would be to wrap it in a clean sheet and then just drop a large brick on it, or maybe a sledge hammer ?

                                              Thank you to my boys for their help with this !

After you get it open just scoop out all of the seeds.

                                                 Place them in a strainer and rinse, rubbing the seeds
                                         around the bowl as the water runs over them will help to
                                         remove the pulp.



                                           Lay the seeds out on a tray covered with wax paper
                                          to dry in a well ventilated area. Be sure that the seeds have
                                          space between them. Check them every few days to be
                                          sure they are drying , I usually turn them over a few times
                                          during the drying process. This usually takes a few weeks,
                                          depending on the humidity in the air. To check to see if the
                                          seeds are ready to be stored, bend a seed in half, if it snaps
                                          then it can be stored, if the seed bends then it needs to dry
                                          a while longer. Storing seeds in paper envelopes placed in
                                          glass jars is the best way to store your seeds. No Plastic !

 Well I hope his helps you to start saving your own seeds. Why bother you ask ? Seed saving helps to provide our own self-sufficiency and ensures that we will have a means of providing quality food for our families and community. By saving seeds from heirloom crops you are helping to preserve old heirlooms that are endangered of becoming extinct... and extinction is forever.
                                    Nutritional Quality~Crop Diversity~Food Security



  1. I was wondering yesterday how the modern generation is going to remember the methods of good farming. and I'm much surprised to see that there are people like you who share their wonderful ideas in their blogs for the benefit of the world.

    1. Thank you ! Sorry it has taken so long to reply.. lost my password =(
      That's the goal of many of us,to help bring back the skills of food self sufficiency.( guess we are called "food warriors") I think alot of vital information and traditions have been lost in many communities because there has been such a disconnect with our elders. But that is another subject for another day =)