March 27

How to Harvest Free Butternut Squash Seeds from a Shop Bought Squash

Growing butternut squash is a rewarding gardening experience and provides you with an endless supply of seeds for future plantings. By harvesting seeds from a fully grown butternut squash, you can save money and ensure that the seeds are fresh and viable. This article will guide you through obtaining free butternut squash seeds from mature fruit.

I. Selecting the Right Butternut Squash

A. Choose a ripe squash

  1. Look for a squash with a tan, uniform colour and a hard, smooth surface.
  2. Ensure that the squash is free of blemishes, cracks, or soft spots, as these may indicate the presence of diseases or pests.
  3. Check for a dried, brown stem, another sign of maturity.

B. Opt for a squash from an open-pollinated variety

  1. Avoid using seeds from hybrid varieties, as they may not produce true-to-type plants in the next generation.
  2. Select a squash from an open-pollinated or heirloom variety for the best chance of obtaining seeds that produce similar plants.

II. Harvesting the Seeds

A. Cut open the squash

  1. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the squash in half lengthwise.
  2. Use a spoon to scoop out each half’s seeds and surrounding pulp.

B. Separate the seeds from the pulp

  1. Place the seeds and pulp in a large bowl or strainer.
  2. Rinse the mixture under cold water, gently rubbing the seeds between your fingers to remove the pulp.
  3. Continue rinsing until the seeds are clean and free of any pulp residue.

III. Drying and Storing the Seeds

A. Dry the seeds

  1. Spread the cleaned seeds in a single layer on a clean towel or paper towel.
  2. Allow the seeds to air-dry in a well-ventilated area, out of direct sunlight, for about one week.
  3. Stir the seeds occasionally during the drying process to ensure even drying.

B. Store the seeds

  1. After the seeds are thoroughly dry, please place them in a paper envelope or airtight container labelled with the variety and date of harvest.
  2. Store the container in a cool, dry, dark location, such as a pantry or closet.
  3. Check the seeds periodically for signs of moisture or mould, and discard any affected seeds.

IV. Planting Your Harvested Seeds

A. Test seed viability

  1. Before planting, perform a germination test by placing a few seeds between moist paper towels and observing whether they sprout within 7-10 days.
  2. If the seeds show a low germination rate, consider purchasing fresh seeds from a reputable source.

B. Plant the seeds

  1. Sow the seeds in well-prepared garden soil or containers, following the recommended planting depth and spacing for butternut squash.
  2. To ensure a healthy and productive harvest, provide the plants with proper care, including regular watering, fertilization, and pest management.

About the author 

Helen J

I'm an enthusiastic, but currently inexperienced gardener trying to keep an allotment for the first time. I'm hoping to grow some lovely veggies throughout the year and will share my progress and learnings.