Choosing Squash to Save Seed

DSC_0340Squash is my favorite vegetable to grow.  I love the taste, the varieties, watching them grow through the summer and the fact that the winter varieties store so well.  There are tons of recipes of all kinds for squash from stuffed squash, to squash bread to squash pie. You can get squash in every shape, size and many colors and patterns.  I will never get bored of squash.

I want to grow every single kind every year, but I also want to be able to save seeds, so I have to be careful which varieties I pick.  There are 4 different species of squash: Cucurbita maxima, C. moschata, C. pepo and C. mixta.  Each species has multiple varieties.  If you want to be able to save seeds that are true to the parents, you can’t have any 2 varieties of the same species near each other.  This is because bugs pollinate squash and as they bounce flower to flower, the different varieties will become cross pollinated.  You may want to do this though, you could get some very interesting new squash.

DSC_0005I have read that varieties of the same species need to be separated by 1/2 mile to keep them from crossing.  I plan on trying to put two varieties on opposite sides of the property to see what happens then.  I will save those seeds and plant them the next year to see what I get.  I won’t be upset if it doesn’t work because it should still be a good tasting squash when it grows.  You can also pollinate the squash by hand to try to ensure a true to the parent squash, but I’m not that advanced.  Once I get a couple good years of saving squash seed, I will work on that skill. Don’t forget, whenever you want to choose any vegetable to save the seed it had to be open pollinated.  Many of the hybrids also will not produce fertile seeds.  I prefer to go with heirloom seeds myself.  Happy squashing!

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My biggest problem has always been squash vine borers, so I don’t know a lot about the mildews. However, I did notice that the more space the squashes have, the less mildew they get. I will try the three sisters method this year and it will either help the mildew by spacing the squash plants out, or the extra shade will make it worse. I’ll share what I find out this season.

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