Seed saving is one of those skills every self-sufficient gardener should have. But it can get complicated and confusing when you are growing multiple varieties. If you are not careful about who is pollinating whom, your precious heirloom varieties can quickly produce the dreaded hybrid seed. Hybrid seeds may or may not sprout, and if they do, they may or may not bear fruit. Squash is one of those plants that can easily cross within species. Those giant yellow flowers look so tasty to pollinating insects, and they will just hop from one plant to the next, seemingly without any discretion or cognizance of their wrongdoing. Trollops.
Fortunately, there are ways to grow several varieties of squash without squashing your carefully protected genetic lineage.
There are 4 species of squash, and the species will not cross with each other. The trick is to pick 1 variety within each species to grow and save seed from to keep your genetics true. Below are a few examples from each species:
- Long Island Cheese
- Musquee de Provence
- Banana Squash
- Summer Squash
- Spaghetti Squash
- Pie Pumpkins
- Acorn Squash
- Miniature pumpkins
To save the seeds:
Choose seeds from your best mature fruits. Wash them thoroughly and set them on paper towels or plates to dry. Be sure not to let them touch each other or they may mold. I usually let mine dry about a month or so. After they are dry, you can gently wipe away the papery outer layer (if your variety has that). Store them in a sealed container away from temperature extremes and light, preferably in the refrigerator. Now you have a whole new generation of seeds for next year! WooHoo!
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