How To Save Squash Seeds

Last updated: 03/23/21

A variety of squash types are available all year in most places, including the grocery store and weekend farmer’s markets. Since almost all the squash parts are edible, you can prepare various delicious recipes for your family and friends. 

Winter squashes like acorn, butternut squash, and delicata squash have brightly colored flesh that is great as a salad or soup. Summer squash varieties such as crookneck and zucchini have white flesh and yellow or green skin.

They taste fantastic when roasted, grilled, or sauteed with olive oil and garlic, and other stir fry recipes.   

Even the bright orange flowers from summer squashes are often served fried, oven-baked, added into a squash blossom soup, or other recipe inspirations. There is really a lot you can do with the different types of squash varieties.

The squash’s usefulness makes it more important to save squash seeds for storage for the next planting season. 

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Squash Plant Growth Period

Growing squash plant in your garden is easier than you think. Summer and winter squashes usually grow during the summer months when the temperature reaches around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. 

How Much Time Does it Take to Grow Squash?

Summer squash grows about 60 days after its seeds are planted. The most common variety is Zucchini which has thin and tender skin and is very productive.

Winter squash, on the other hand, grows longer from 60 to 110 days. They have thicker and more protective skin, making them more ideal for long-term storage than summer squash.

A pumpkin is an example of winter squash. 

squash seeds saving tips

How to Plant Squash

The soil needs to be at least 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit before you can sow the squash seeds or set out seedlings. Squash seeds need a well-drained location, so they need to plant on elevated 12 inches mounds. 

You must plant the summer or winter squash seeds at least 1/2 to 1 inch deep, 12 to inches apart, and in rows spaced 36 inches apart. Water the seeds regularly to keep the soil moist.

After a few weeks, male blossoms will appear and open, followed by female flowers. 

Only female flowers can bear fruit but only after it’s properly pollinated. You can do hand pollination to pollinate squash flowers, especially if there are no pollinating insects in the garden.

You can do this by using a brush or cotton swab to get pollen from the male squash flower to the female flowers. 

It would be best if you also watched for any signs of disease such as puckering of leaves, yellowing, and rotting of fruits. Remove the bad seeds and infected plants away from your garden. Do not place them in your compost pile. 

Harvesting Squash Seeds

Since there are several species of Squash, harvesting time may vary from different summer and winter varieties.

Common varieties from Zucchini to Pumpkins will differ in development from when you pollinate the squash flowers until harvest time when they reach mature size.

Harvesting Summer Squash Varieties

Like the Zucchini and Yellow Squash, summer varieties should be harvested using a sharp knife or pruner, leaving at least one inch of stalk. It would be best if you harvested 2-3 times a week.

Tender summer squash has immature seeds and is suitable for eating. However, for seed harvesting, you can wait until you have a mature fruit with fully developed summer squash seeds before picking.

Harvesting Winter Squash Varieties

Winter varieties like pumpkins, acorn, butternut, and other winter squash species should be allowed to fully mature until their skin becomes extremely hard. But it is important to harvest them before the first frost even if the seed maturity is not complete.

You should expose the Squash to the sun for 5 to 7 days or in a cool, dry place for 5 to 6 months to dry and toughen their skins.

Its fleshy fruit pulp should be good for cooking, while its viable seeds can be kept for planting. 

Steps to Save Squash Seeds

Common heirloom varieties are the best source of seeds since most plants and seeds available in stores are hybrid varieties that are not adapted to challenging situations and do not grow.

The fruits are usually left for at least 20 days past their maturity before their seeds are harvested. The waiting time will ensure seed viability. 

Squash also cross-pollinate, so you have to grow only one type of Squash in your garden. Cross-pollination will affect the quality of your seeds, making them nonviable seeds to plant.

To keep the seed of Squash pure, you can place a bag over the flowers and do hand pollination. 

Harvesting Squash Seeds

Make sure you choose mature heirloom variety fruits. Using a sharp knife, cut both ends of the Squash and cut the remaining part in half. Be careful not to cut the squash seeds.

Using your spoon or hand, scoop the seeds from the seed cavity and placed them on a paper towel or coffee filter. 

You should be able to collect lots of seeds from the Squash. Select seeds and gently remove the extra flesh or pulp attached to the seeds. Remove underdeveloped seeds and retain the good ones that have a hard rind.

You can wash the seeds and just let them sit out on the paper towels for 7 to 10 days in a dry area and away from moisture. 

how to save squash seeds tips

Cleaning Squash Seeds

You can also directly put your harvested seed in a glass jar with a bit of water and leave them to ferment. The fermentation process will breakdown and remove the thick lining of the seed.

Drain and wash the seeds in water. Then remove the seeds for drying using a paper towel. Drying times may vary from 7 to 10 days. 

Storing Squash Seeds

Ensure that the seeds are completely dry before storing them in a dry, cool, and dark location. You can place batches of seeds in small envelopes or a small mason jar container.

Make sure you label each container with the type of seeds and the date it was first stored. 

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Final Thoughts

The squash is such a very useful plant, so whether you choose the summer or winter variety you assured of a bountiful harvest.

You will surely enjoy all the squash recipes all year- round with your family and friends. 

Related Questions

How do you save yellow squash seeds?

Sliced the hardened fruits, scoop the mature seeds, wash and dry for 7 to 10 days. 

Can I plant squash seeds straight from the Squash?

No, since the seeds are covered with pulp, it still needs to be removed, cleaned and dried before planting. 

Can you replant butternut squash seeds?

Yes, but it has to be cleaned and dried out first before planting. They also only germinate in warm soil, so you can only plant them in summer. 

Green Thumb Gardener
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Jeremy Starke

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