Small datapoint on seed saving

Sweet Tatorman's picture

A few years ago a woman for whom I had done a favor gave be a squash as a token of gratitude. I liked it's flavor so I saved seeds from that one specimen and have been growing it since. I have identified it as belonging to the species Cucurbita mixta, a.k.a., Cucurbita argyrosperma. It is a Winter squash of the Cushaw type with a rather hard skin. Fully mature ones require the use of a meat clever and hammer to split open. It keeps well and flavor is good. Since I was running low on the original saved seeds I saved and dried some more this Fall. After drying under air conditioned indoor conditions for a month or so I checked germination on a sample of 10 and got 0/10 = 0%. Next I further dried with the aid of desiccant for several weeks until indicated RH in the bag was below 20%. Again checked germination and got 0/10 = 0%. Next I stored the seeds with desiccant in the freezer for about a week then thawed and rested at room temperature for a few days. Again checked germination and this time got 9/10 = 90%. In retrospect I should have set aside some of the desiccant dried seeds to not be frozen as I cannot say whether the change from 0 to 90% is from the storage frozen or simply the passage of added time. Notably this species is believed to have originated in central Mexico in areas possibly not subject to freezing temperatures.

While not really relevant to the subject of this post, I will attach a photo of the squash under discussion just because I can.

add photo: 
ClareBroommaker's picture

Well that is interesting. I would guess that the passage of time enabled some metabolic process to complete so that germination could happen. Or maybe that squash really has genes going back to a colder, maybe high altitude area so that putting seeds in the freezer just gave those genes a chance to be expressed, triggering germination when they came out.

One of the buttercup squash we cut open had lots of seeds germinating inside it. I'd never seen that in squash before. That seed was in a hurry in comparison to yours which wanted to take its time.

How well are the fruits themselves keeping?

Sweet Tatorman's picture

>How well are the fruits themselves keeping?<

Up until the first hard freeze I only picked those whose skins could not be dented with a thumbnail. I still have a number of those but it has been a few months since I have used one. On Nov 3 after the first hard freeze I picked all in the garden in all states of maturity. Anticipating that the most immature ones would not keep well I used those first over a period of 3-4 weeks. I am now using the semi-mature ones that have hard skins but still can be cut without the use of meat clever and hammer. I cooked several of these just last week and they are fine. Interestingly, these semi-mature ones mostly keep their green color in storage but the ones picked fully mature eventually turn orange in storage.