A love affair with squash

By Brandie Piper

Published Oct. 30, 2015 on Discover.Monsanto.com.

Growing up in the Mojave Desert, Bill Johnson’s parents prohibited him from squirting water from the hose for fun in his backyard. There was one exception, however: his parents permitted him to use the hose if he was growing a garden.

Thankfully for Bill, he lived near a generous neighbor with a flourishing garden. At 5 years old, Johnson was growing zucchini and watermelon, learning strategies and techniques in planting, growing and harvesting a garden from his neighbor. The pair hung out together for an hour or two every week, and the neighbor even shared his seeds and seedlings.

And so began Johnson’s love affair with vegetables, and in particular squash. He’s now a squash breeder for Seminis®, a brand of Monsanto Vegetable Seeds division.

“In my first garden, I picked hundreds of watermelons, but the largest was about the size of a tennis ball,” said Johnson. “Growing in gravel, in the desert, at high density, with high winds and temperatures is like growing a Bonsai garden. But my tiny watermelons were delicious.”

Over the years, he learned and became better at gardening. He was able to grow many miniature vegetables, and some regular-sized ones. He was particularly successful with zucchini and asparagus, which were well-adapted to production in the hot, windy environment.

“By the time I was a teenager, I was making half-decent money growing asparagus and selling it around town,” said Johnson… [continue reading]

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