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Harvesting Squash Seed: Purity is Important!

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All these squash varieties are related and will cross pollinate if grown nearby.

Squashes are masters at crossing with their neighbors. Even varieties that are very different in appearance, such as zucchini, pumpkin, pattypan, and vegetable spaghetti are all derived from the same species (Cucurbita pepo) and will cross readily. The fruits that result from crossed seed will be hybrids, therefore likely intermediate in appearance, taste, and texture between the two parents, and not usually what you want.

If you intend to harvest squash seeds for next year’s sowing, it’s therefore best to limit yourself to growing only one variety in your entire vegetable garden. In community gardens, where a wide variety of squashes are sown, it’s probably best not to save seeds.

Commercial producers of squash seed leave a mile (about 1,6 km) between plants to ensure varietal purity. Even then, it sometimes happens that a squash plant you sowed produces fruit that looks nothing like those in the seed pack’s picture. If so, just blame an errant bee!

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

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