As reported earlier, our pumpkin plants didn't make it this summer. Whether or not it was the extremely hot and humid Tokyo summer or late planting wasn't immediately clear. However, while reading an article from Organic Gardening about Heirloom Pumpkins, the answer seems to be emerging.
Amy Goodman, author and an heirloom enthusiast/expert, explains in her article that there are varieties of squash better suited to a tropical environment. Cucurbits moschata (think butternut) specializes in growing in hot tropical areas. (The light bulb is blazing over my head.) A little research on Seed Savers Exchange, Wikipedia, Google, and whatever other resources I can harness while without an English library revealed to me that this could be the answer to my question. The following is a list of Japanese heirlooms (with one exception) that I hope to find this spring and give a shot.
A unique Japanese heirloom squash that I've not yet seen here. I learned about it in a roundabout way after reading the above article in Organic Gardening. It looks and sounds delicious, and I'm quite hopeful to find seeds here for spring planting.
One of the coolest looking vegetables I've not met yet here in Japan. I'm hopeful, again, to find seeds locally rather than ordering from an American seed company.
Another one that I'm dying to find the seeds for locally, and then grow and eat. The description in this seed catalog made my mouth water!
A squash I, again, don't believe I've met yet here, but I can hardly wait. (It seems I may only be growing squash next year...) This lengthy article in Mother Earth News is some of the best information yet that I've found about heirloom varieties of squash for Japan. It also happens to hit on all the things that I LOVE about heirloom varieties, so I fell hook, line and sinker for this one.
Long Island Cheese
Perhaps the squash listed here with the most unfortunate name, this is the one I'll grow if all else fails for some reason or another. Not a Japanese heirloom but still one with a great little history, this squash sounds quite promising for its tasty flesh, charming appearance, and great texture.
A Good Read?
Amy Goldman, author of several books on heirloom vegetables including her most recent one about heirloom tomatoes, wrote one about squash appropriately titled The Compleat Squash: A Passionate Grower's Guide to Pumpkins, Squashes, and Gourds. It sounds like recommended reading for an heirloom grower, and I'm giving it some thought.