How to Save Squash Seeds

Posted: November 10, 2015

How to Save Open-pollinated Squash Seed - dry thouroughly

Saving your own squash seeds from your favorite varieties has many benefits. Here are a few:

  • Protect against seed companies dropping your favorite variety.
  • Select seeds for your personal tastes and desires.
  • Enhance micro-regional adaptation of your seed.
  • Save money.
  • Gives you ‘currency’ for trades and seed-swaps.
  • Apparently, so my friend told me, seed-savers are really cool.

Botanical Notes:

Family: Cucurbitaceae
Species: Cucurbita spp. (there are four species that will not readily cross pollinate: c. pepo, c. maxima, c. moshata, c. mixta)
Flower: Monoecious (male and female flowers on the same plant).
Pollination: Insect, bee.
Expected Seed Life: 4-6 years.
Isolation Distance: 1/2 mile or greater, easily hand-pollinated.

Botanical Info referenced from ‘The Seed Garden

How to save squash seed

 

How to Save Open-pollinated Squash Seed

We are going to assume that you attended one of our Seed Saving workshops and kept your squash isolated from other varieties of the same species, picked a fully mature fruit (hard rind, even for summer squash) with the traits that you deem desirable from a range of plants and are only trying to save from open-pollinated varieties. Note: It’s actually very easy to hand-pollinate squash flowers because they have large, easily recognizable male and female flowers. Otherwise you need to isolate by at least 1/2 mile.

Here is Angie saving some seed!

Step 1: Cut the squash and scoop the seed

How to Save Open-pollinated Squash Seed - cut and scoop

Step 2: scrape all the seeds into a jar, don’t worry about goop

How to Save Open-pollinated Squash Seed - scoop seeds

Step 3: top off with water and leave to ferment

Fermentation breaks down the gelatinous placental lining of the seed so that they can be dried for long term storage.

Step 4: drain off the fermented water

How to Save Open-pollinated Squash Seed - pour off water

Step 5: power rinse the seeds to remove tenacious gloop

How to Save Open-pollinated Squash Seed - rinse clean

Step 6: lay seeds out to dry

Seeds need to pass the ‘snap-test’, which means a seed, when bent, will snap cleanly in two halves.

How to Save Open-pollinated Squash Seed - dry on rack

Step 7: completely dry seeds can be stored dry, dark and cool. I achieve this with a small mason jar, a silica gel pack and my basement refrigerator.

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