We live in an age of abbreviation, acronyms and brevity. We become testy with long books, long paragraphs or even long titles. We like it sparse and lean. Who needs subjects? Ditto verbs. Keep it short like a telegram. And like our attention span.
Given our present-day intolerance of length it becomes something of a challenge to pull up a chair and peruse a scientific journal from a century ago. They are long and s……l……o……..w. Consider the aptly titled magazine "Horticulture, Botany and all Useful Discoveries and Improvements in Rural Affairs." Published by the Boston firm of Hovey & Son "Horticulture, Botany, etc." was the principal journal covering the American scene of botany. It's quite the treasure trove for someone looking for historical tidbits about vegetable heirlooms. And in regards to heirloom squash called "Yokohama", " Horticulture " does not disappoint. The March volume in 1864 contains the following entry:
THE YOKOHAMA SQUASH IT will be recollected that Mr Thomas Hogg of New York visited Japan two years ago on a botanical tour and since his arrival there he has sent home a variety of seeds to his brother among them were seeds of a squash These were planted by Mr James Hogg and very carefully cultivated away from all other varieties The vines made a strong and vigorous growth running rapidly and rooting at the joints They blossomed abundantly and ripened a large crop of squashes which proved to be entirely unlike anything we possessed and so strongly marked as to leave no doubt of its being a new variety ….. Mr Hogg sums up its general characteristics as follow Size medium about eight inches in diameter and four inches deep weighing from six to eight pounds Stem very long woody and angled like that of the pumpkin Surface strongly ribbed Skin warty and of a dark green color which often turns more or less to a dull orange Cavity for the seeds small and placed near the blossom end. Seeds very small about the size of the Summer Crookneck squash. Flesh very fine grained sweet sufficiently dry and well flavored Keeps well is the this new variety have tried it pronounce it of superior quality Its fine early maturity and productiveness give it a claim to attention and it seems likely to become a favorite and variety. Mr Jas Hogg states that the Yokohama keeps until February and he has little doubt it will keep till March It becomes quite dry by keeping …. It is excellent for cooking ….. Mr Hogg calls it the Yokohama the place where his brother resides and from whence he forwarded the seeds."
So there you have it. In 1862 Tom Hogg got seeds for a squash from his brother Jason in Japan. It looks different than anything you've seen. It tastes good and it keeps. "Yokohama" is the name. Need more detail? Lookk up an old copy of " Hort".
Vegetables of Interest, 2007
P.S. This Yokohama squash was organically grown in my garden in the Valley of the Moon. It was one of only two Yokohama squash to have made it through the fall untouched by field mice. They know a good thing.
P.S.S. Yokohama squash are occasionally found in the U.S. commercial market in Southern California. Most Yokohama are grown in Colorado by Japanese American farm families who export them back to Japan. They, too, know a good thing.