|Some of last years winter squash harvest|
One thing I've yet to do is save the seed from them that would grow true. Squash are a very promiscuous veg and cross ridiculously easy with each other, with the numbers I was growing there was no way the seeds were going to stay pure by chance.
Now I could tape up the flowers the night before they open and then hand pollinate them. This doesn't work on two counts for me. The first is that my squash grow in a huge patch with leaves and stems everywhere, making figuring which is which hard. The second point being that I'm useless and spend two months of the year forgetting to do this!
With the seed swap that I volunteer in we frequently get handed squash seeds that someone has saved from a squash they grew or brought to put on the table. I normally ask a few easy questions to get a gauge of their seed saving knowledge level and then I can decide if they knew what they were doing or not. Most go in a box and I tell them I'll put them out later, these are ones that haven't been isolated are likely crosses or can't be trusted and get fed to hungry chickens!
|Seed Swap in Hereford|
Rather than taping flowers shut I'm going to grow only three varieties of squash this year. One from each of the major family groups (there are more groups but I'll start with these), these should generally not cross between each other and as my neighbours don't grow squash the seed I save will be pure and true to type.
|My seed planters and future seed savers!|
The maxima I've chosen has become one of my firm favourites. Oregon Homestead Sweet Meat. A friend gave me some seed he saved a few years ago and I grew them last year, each one produced four massive fruits weighing over 10kg! I couldn't quite believe it, they taste amazing and store really well, we've not long finished them (they make great soup).
As my friend was worried he'd not been rigorous in selecting the plants he saved from I decided to freshen up the gene pool and order some seeds from America where Carol Deppe has been selecting and keeping this variety going for years.
|All my squash seeds for this year!|
|Table Queen squash - perfect for roasting whole!|
So is anyone else saving seeds from their squash plants this year? How do you go about keeping them from crossing? I'd love to hear your hints and tips!