(C. moschata) We are so happy to reintroduce this piece of American history. The beautiful fruit is very flat, ribbed and dark-green-to-tan in color. The golden flesh is dry and fine-grained. In the 1850s Japanese trade goods became available in the U.S., and plants were part of the cultural avalanche. One was the Yokohama squash, a superior winter squash that had evolved through centuries of painstaking selection by meticulous Japanese gardeners. In America, Yokohama was introduced by a wealthy New York City horticulturist, James Hogg. Hogg’s brother, Thomas Hogg Jr., was sent to Japan by President Lincoln as a diplomat in 1862. He also worked for Japanese customs and their government. He collected and brought back many Japanese plants to the U.S., and his brother James used them to build the Hogg nursery into one of the best sources for Asiatic and Japanese plants. Thomas spent most of his 10 years in Japan in Yokohama, and in 1863 James Hogg named the Yokohama squash. He claimed it was superior to the Hubbard types which were at the time the standard in American gardens. J.H. Gregory, as quoted in The Garden, an Illustrated Weekly Journal, London, 1873 wrote: “It is remarkably thick, making it the heaviest of all squashes in proportion to its size. The flesh is very fine grained, smooth to the taste, and has a flavor resembling the Canada Crookneck.” William Woys Weaver wrote in Mother Earth News “the ‘Yokohama’ possesses one of the most complex flavors I have run across in any squash or pumpkin I have grown. Everyone’s taste buds are different, but I detect hints of Asian pear, mango, avocado, lemon balsam, and if you have experience with tropical fruits, the unmistakable aroma of sapote. Can this be a squash?” In the late 1990s, I dreamed of this old variety after reading reviews of it in 19th century garden publications. But like many heirlooms, this variety appeared extinct in America. So I started a search for this Japanese heirloom and finally found seeds with Bruno Defay, who had been saving this old heirloom in his garden in France. I was so excited to bring this Japanese/American variety back to America around the year 2000. It had been gone from America for nearly 100 years! But thanks to a French seed saver, it was saved for future generations. In 2017 we had the pleasure of taking “Yokohama” seeds back to Japan! Local seed growers there could not remember this variety but were excited to hear the story and to have seeds hand delivered back to them after over 150 years of travel across the globe and near extinction. As I walked the quiet streets and hills of Yokohama, I could not help but think of squash fields and the story of how this squash came to America.
Minimum Seed Count: 20