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The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin:

       Even before the Slow Food Movement began, Native Americans already understood the importance of growing crops in synergy. As a result, they shared food preservation techniques–as well as the Three Sister practice of growing corn, beans, and squash–with the European colonists. These intersections of history, culture, and tradition thusly birthed the the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin, one of the oldest varieties of winter squash cultivated in America and a delicious choice for many types of cooking. As a prominent piece of the region’s history, early 19th century cookbooks and farmers almanacs frequently site the vegetable as a favorite. Thus in 1807, Irish-American horticulturist Bernard McMahon introduced the pumpkin to the commercial market. 


        McMahon served as one of the stewards of the plant collections from the Lewis and Clark expedition and was the author of The American Gardener's Calendar: Adapted to the Climates and Seasons of the United States. It was modeled on a traditional English formula, consisting of month-by-month instructions on planting, pruning, and soil prepping for the “Kitchen Garden, Fruit Garden, Orchard, Vineyard, Nursery, Pleasure Ground, Flower Garden, Green House, Hot house and Forcing Frames”. 
        In 1808 McMahon purchased twenty acres on the Germantown Road, in Penn Township, Philadelphia for a nursery and botanic garden that would enable him to expand his business. Today, part of the McMahon garden is currently occupied by Fotterall Square, a small park in Philadelphia.
        The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin was available through seed retailers up until the 1960s; technological innovations in agriculture increased the popularity of hybridized seed varieties like the Kentucky Field and Dickinson pumpkins. With a rounder shape and smoother skin, these squashes were better-suited for increasingly efficient harvesting, processing, and distribution by more modern farm equipment. And so slowly but surely the Long Island heirloom was lost in the modernization of seed and food production. 
        But in the late 1970s, a local seed saver named Ken Ettlinger established the Long Island Seed Project to conserve the genetic resources of Long Island. With the support of the Northeast Organic Farmers Association of New York, Cornell, Oregon State University, and the University of Connecticut, Ettlinger’s seed bank not only restores varieties like the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin suited for the local culture and ecological agriculture systems, but also educates farmers and consumers on breeding techniques and seed saving.


       Slow Food USA is overjoyed that the Long Island Cheese Pumpkin and its supporters were able to “squash” the naysayers and remain a vital piece of our planet’s rich biodiversity!  The plant itself is incredibly versatile: its chell, flesh, seeds, and even flowers are all completely edible! Not only can ripe flesh be boiled, baked, steamed, pickled, or roasted, but they have a high enough sugar content to be mashed and fermented for pumpkin beers. The Long Island Cheese Pumpkin can also be enjoyed in soups, purees, desserts, preserves, pasta, and stews.

THE SEED DEET: 
Everything you need to know about caring for your Long Island Cheese Pumpkin! 

1. Soil and Watering: 
Fertile, well-drained soil with a pH of 5.8–6.8 is best. 
Plastic mulch and fabric row covers (AG-19 grade) can aide plant establishment and exclude insect pests during the seedling stage. Row covers should be removed when plants begin to flower. In rainy weather, squash can go 10-14 days in between watering. In hot and dry climates, water seeds twice each week. If soil is dry 4-6 inches deep, then water seeds. 

2. Planting and Harvest: 
Days to maturity: 70-108 days from direct seeding. If transplanting, subtract 14 days

    Transplanting: Sow 2-3 seeds per 2″ container or plug flat about 3 weeks prior to transplanting. Germinate at 75-95°F/24-35°C. Thin with scissors to 1 plant/container or cell with scissors. Harden plants 4–7 days prior to transplanting. After danger of frost has passed, transplant out according to the spacing recommendations for each variety. Handle seedlings carefully; minimal root disturbance is best.

    Direct Seeding: Sow in late spring when soil is at least 70°F/21°C and frost danger has passed. Sow 2 seeds at the appropriate spacing interval for the variety's vine length, 1/2-1″ deep. Thin to 1 plant per spacing interval after seedlings are established.

     Harvest: fruits can tolerate 1-2 light frosts, however, temperatures below 28°F/-2°C can damage fruit. When fruit color is fully developed, clip handles close to the vine. Avoid picking up fruits by handles and take care not to damage the skin/rind. Sun cure in the field for 5-7 days or cure indoors by keeping fruits at 80-85°F/27-29°C with good air ventilation. A healthy plant will yield 2-3 pumpkins per plant 

3. Storage
Store at 50-60°F/10-15°C with 50-70% relative humidity and good ventilation. Winter squash will last 3-6 months stored at room temperature in a dry and cool (50-55 degrees) but not cold location.

KNOW YOUR ZONE:
Zones 1-2: Early May. If transplanting, start inside 4 weeks before planting date. 
Zones 3-4: May 10-June 1st. 
Zone 5-6: May 15-30th
Zones 7-8: April 1-August 1st 
Zone 9: March-August 
Zone 10a: February-March, or in August 
Zone 10b: January-February, September 

Row 7 Seeds: Robin's Koginut Squash:

       If you’ve watched season one of Netflix’s Chef’s Table, then you’ve seen Dan Barber discuss his love of both biodiversity and also flavorful seed innovation. In 2019, this vision finally comes to life, as the Robin’s Koginut Squash becomes an emblem of what it means to be a delicious, hybridized crop in the age of modern agriculture. The seed was developed by Michael Mazourek, whom had conversed with Barber about the complications of an overly industrialized farm system. Both chef and seedsman frustratingly observed that in the wake of a growing population, multiple crops are being planted for yield and not flavor. As a result, the two men and late collaborator Robin Ostfeld–for whom the squash is named after–embarked on a journey to produce a squash that was both delectable and timely. Ostfeld had always wanted to name a seed of his own, and thus Row 7 pays homage to all his work and dedication to organic farming in the Finger Lakes through this marriage of two favorite squash breeds. 


       The Koginut is sweet, smooth in texture, hardy for storage, and even has a built-in ripeness indicator (fruit turn from green to bronze) to ensure a bountiful and delicious harvest every season. Furthermore, each seed packet sold supports public plant breeding research at Cornell University, providing the assistance needed to promote our planet’s biodiversity, feed curious minds, and support growing bodies. 

THE SEED DEET: 
Everything you need to know about caring for your Robin’s Koginut Squash! 

1. Soil and watering: 
The squash requires fertile, well-drained soils. If using row covers: cover young plants to increase early growth and protect from insect pests. Remove covers at flowering to ensure pollination and fruit set. In rainy weather, squash can go 10-14 days in between watering. In hot and dry climates, water seeds twice each week. If soil is dry 4-6 inches deep, then water seeds. 

2. Planting and Harvest: 
After Thinning/Transplanting: 
Plant spacing: 24”
Row spacing: 7’

Direct Seeding: Sow seeds ½” deep after last frost, when soil temperatures reach at least 70˚F. Sow 1-2 seeds every 24”; thin to one plant every 24”. 
6-12 days to emergence. 

Transplanting: Start seeds indoors 2-3 weeks before last frost. Sow seeds ½” deep. 
Optimal soil temperature for germination: 85˚F. Move transplants outdoors after last frost, when soil temperatures reach at least  70˚F (do not disturb roots when transplanting). Move transplants outdoors to harden off gradually for 3-5 days, protecting seedlings from wind, strong sun, hard rain and cold.

Harvest: Fruit turn from green to bronze on the vine; ready to pick when green is nearly gone. Harvest twice as fruit ripen for optimal yield and quality. (If in danger of frost, harvest all fruit.) Handle fruit gently to prevent damage.
    
3. Storage: 
Fruit store well after curing. Cure at about 80˚F for one week. Store at 50˚F, 50% relative humidity, with air exchange for best storage. Higher humidity, up to 70%, can extend storage. Plan to use all by March. Monitor storage for fruit loss.

KNOW YOUR ZONE:
Zones 1-2: Early May. If transplanting, start inside 4 weeks before planting date. 
Zones 3-4: May 10-June 1st. 
Zone 5-6: May 15-30th
Zones 7-8: April 1-August 1st 
Zone 9: March-August 
Zone 10a: February-March, or in August 
Zone 10b: January-February, September