Plant Profile: Hopi Pale Grey

UPDATE: It has come to my attention that this seed variety is not currently available by any commercial seller, as many folks have reached out asking to buy it. I will be donating all my surplus seed to Native Seed SEARCH ( Please support them and visit their website for more information about this and any other Native seed varieties from the Southwest region.

If you live in the Ogden, Utah area and are interested in helping save this seed locally with me, please email me at


The Hopi Pale Grey (C. maxima) is a winter squash with a pale greyish rind. According to the Baker Creek 2018 Seed Catalog (where I originally purchased my seeds), this variety is an Heirloom from the Hopi people that has nearly become extinct in recent years.

I grew 6 vines during the season, and harvested 12 fruits; half of which were huge in the 10 to 15 pound range, and half were small second fruits, in the 3 to 5 pound range. I believe I could have had a better harvest if I had picked the earlier fruits sooner – I kept waiting for the rinds to be hard enough that my nail could not pierce them, and it never happened. In the end, I just realized I have really sharp nails and I was trying a little too hard with that test ;)

Early in the season, before they really took off

The plants were amazingly heat and drought tolerant. I’m a little mean to plants I know I’ll be keeping for seed, as I feel that babying them too much makes it harder to select the hardier plants. If you never test their resilience, they never reveal it to you. With that thinking, I intentionally didn’t water these plants as much as the rest of my garden.

And they didn’t care one lick.

While my butternuts were wilting and drooping in the middle of our hot days, the Hopi squash were just as perky and lovely as ever. Their leaves are huge and their vines sprawl. They produced well, although I really should have picked more of them sooner – they would have kept producing.

The Hopi Pale Grey squash also showed some resilience, although not outright resistance, to Powdery Mildew. While my Black Beauty zucchinis just keeled over and died outright, and my butternuts limped along but didn’t produce any more fruit – the Hopi squash got a little dusting of mildew on its leaves and kept on trucking.

The squash themselves have been very tasty. The flesh is extremely dry – and can be a bit stringy when the fruits get large. The big fruits I just turn into bread so I don’t have to process much, and the small fruits do well for pies. If interested, you can read about how I make pumpkin puree in an earlier post. Right now I’m experimenting with some dried pumpkin leather recipes for snacks; I’ll post if I have any roaring success with that.

One of 12 squash fruits

 If you are planning on growing this squash here in Ogden, here are my general pointers:

  • Please, try to hand pollinate and save seed as this is a rare variety. If you or your neighbors are growing any other C. maxima squashes, you will need to isolate your Hopi squash in some way to preserve their genetic purity. If what I just wrote is Latin to you, shoot me a message – I’m happy to help you get started :)
  • Wait until the soil is good and warm before planting; grab a soil or meat thermometer and make sure the soil is at least 65. This might be a couple weeks after the expected “last frost” date. You can hasten the warming of your soil by raking back any mulch and covering your soil with clear or black plastic. Raised beds will warm faster than ground level gardens. Whether in the ground or a raised bed, you can shovel up hills to plant in – which will also help your planting soil warm faster.
  • And, because we ALWAYS have a freak hailstorm or five, keep something handy to cover your seedlings with in our wacky early-summer weather. I usually have quick hoops set up over my beds for this reason. I’ve been using a plastic covering, but plan on switching my squash over to a floating row cover material like tulle as soon as I have the money to spend.
  • Plan on mulching well until the vines take off. They can be a little slow to start, but then they will take over and nothing but bindweed will slow them down.
  • I do recommend starting your seedlings in pots to give them a good head start on the season. Make sure your seed starting pots are big enough that the seedlings do not become root bound. You can set these pots outside on warm days, and bring them in at night so they do not become too cool. They should not need heat mats the way tomatoes and peppers do, just keep them off a cold basement floor. I’d say start your seeds in pots no more than 2 weeks before the last frost so they don’t spend too much time in containers.

I think that is all the advice I have outside of the normal “how to” grow winter squash. I debated writing up the normal “how to” but I think that is already all over the internet. Let me know if I’m wrong, and I’ll write it up here, too :)


If you are of Native American heritage and would like seeds from this or any of the native heirlooms I have, please feel free to reach out – I’m happy to send you some for free as long as I have some to send. If I run out, I’ll make sure to get you some the following season or as soon as I can get more. You may also be eligible for free seed from Native Seed and should contact them to learn more.


  1. Do you have any Hopi Pale Gray Squash seeds? I would like to grow some next year and they seem very hard to find. I would be happy to pay for them if you have any? Thank you

    1. Hi Marc! Yes, I do- if you can send me an email at we can cover details. Thanks!

  2. Hi, A comment or two regarding the Hopi: They are not ready to be harvested until the stem becomes 'corky' looking. I have grown the Hopi for a number of years and have never harvested until later in the Fall- just before a hard frost. After harvesting, I let mine 'season' for a couple of weeks before we start eating them. These squash are an excellent 'food storage' food - if kept in a cool (50-60 degrees) dry place. We have had a few that lasted a year. Planting directly in the ground works well- with sufficient watering. And as you found out the vines grow rampant. Our harvest this year was two big wheel barrows (contractor size) full of Hopi Pale Grey Squash. If you would like extra seed I'd be happy to share with you. I am already saving seed for a homesteader in Minnesota, Jackie Clay; I first heard of this great squash from Jackie. She and her husband, Will, have a little seed company, Seed Treasures. Their cattle got into the garden area this summer where her Hopi Squash were growing - no squash/seed to harvest. Good luck in all of your garden endeavors. Vala Johnson, Harlem, Montana

    1. Hi Vala, I was able to get some Hopi seeds from Susan DeBruin and I am hoping to start growing them next season, Lord willing. Thank you for your offer! I started getting Jackie Clay's blogs a couple months ago while on the hunt for Hopi seeds. She mentioned the cows getting her Hopi Squash. I got some books from her and some other seeds. She has a tomato from Siberia that can take some shade. I am up against a steep hill with lots of trees around. I will be able to clear up the hill and get a little more light, but I am excited to have a tomato that will do better without as much sun. This year was my first year gardening and I am 50 years old (with a young family: Sophie 6, Lilyan 4, Lowell 2, and Janice due Nov 16) and always wanted to garden but was "busy" well, the covid mess has changed my priorities. I see very hard times coming, and I hope to learn to be more self sufficient. I learned to water bath can this year. I plan to raise my kids with their own patches of dirt/garden as a way of life. This year's garden was in 70+ five gallon buckets because we got notice to move and had to temporarily stay at my mom's place, but my mind was made up! I was going to start learning! The plants were a little stunted because it took awhile to get them here, and mom was watering with a sprinkler and the buckets need more. Also, the light here was not good for the tomatoes and zucchinis were stunted. Although I did clear some of the hill and got a little more sunlight. The potting soil was expensive but I will reuse it. Now I hope to get some dirt from the ground sifted from rocks, maybe bake it to sterilize, and get some manure. I may look into home made fertilizer too. We do not make a lot of money, but we can improvise. I have been collecting 2'*6' boards from a free pile outside a roofing yard and they are nailed together in rectangles that are like premade potato stacker boxes. And they will work great for raised beds. So I will be looking into dirt. I appreciate you tips on the Hopi Squash, and I will be saving them. I have folder that I am printing and saving stuff on various gardening, food preservation, recipes and other things. It may become part of our home school curriculum. Well, thanks again. Look forward to learning from you all. -Hilby family.

    2. Hello Marc, Well, a little behind in answering your comments that I find are full of hope - and hint of hard work! It's only been the last dozen yrs. or so that I've been able to garden in earnest, and to can. --I am now 80, so trying to catch up!
      I recall living in a somewhat 'upscale' mobile home park with old buckets strategically placed in our tiny yard. I grew beans, cucumbers and tomatoes - lots of them. Thankfully by the time the owners began to complain about our collection of gardening containers we were moving - to a small town. Our buckets followed us. We have been on our 20 acre farmstead for close to 15 yrs. now. Our garden spot is tiny by Jackie's standards -about 50x125. And I learned early on that a totally weed free garden is not worth the effort. Once the plants get above the weeds I relax my weeding efforts a bit. And we're pretty much organic.
      I consider Jackie the 'canning guru'. I've learned much from her canning book.
      Re: the Hopi Squash. We keep ours stored in our shop on a back shelf; the shop is heated by a wood stove. We lose a few during the course of storage - perhaps due to not being quite ripe when picked - or fluctuation in temps., but over the past several years that squash has been such a reliable food storage source for us. Jackie cans some of hers, but I've not gotten to that point.
      Wishing you the best in your self reliant endeavors. And may your children follow in your foot steps, as you strive to grow a self sustaining garden. Vala Johnson

  3. Hi Vala! Good to hear from you. If I live till I am 80 I hope to still be gardening too! That is a good story getting out of the mobile home park just in time, and it is great you wound up on some land. Thanks for reaching out. Lord willing I will add to this post my experience growing Hopi squash on a hillside in Eastern WA this coming season. Take care!

  4. Eric, are you familiar with Backwoods Home Magazine and Self Reliant Magazine? Jackie Clay-Atkinson write for these two magazines. Again wishing you the very best as you raise your young family out in the country, and grow your own food. And I agree with what you had said in your 'post' of October: hard times may be coming. Unfortunately there are many families who are already experiencing those hard times. Vala

  5. Hi, I would like to buy some Hopi grey squash seeds if you have some. you can let me know by email or phone 916-715-7744. Thank you so much. Judy


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