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Harvest squash: Squash should be fully mature before harvesting for seed. This is well past the eating stage, skin should be hard and leathery. Once vine tendril closest to individual melon has dried, harvest the melon. Wait an additional three weeks after harvesting before extracting the seeds.
Extract seeds: Cut the squash lengthwise and scrape seeds into a bowl with a spoon. Add a small amount of water to the bowl. Healthy seeds will sink to the bottom, while bad seeds and pulp will float. Using your fingers, separate seeds from pulp.
Fermentation: Place seeds in a sealed container for 1-2 days. Stir daily. Good seeds will sink to the bottom.
Dry seeds: Spread good seeds (those that sunk) on a ceramic or glass plate to dry. Place in the shade. This process should take several days.
Label and Store: Properly prepared melon seeds can last 2- 5 years.
Summer and winter squash grow best in nutrient rich soil and in full sun. It is common to plant squash in soil hills (4-5 seeds per hill is ideal). Plant after the last frost.
Squash flowers are insect-pollinated and can be crossed easily within species. Therefore, when planning to save seed, it is important to take measures to preserve seed integrity. We recommend either ensuring about a mile between varieties, or using a hand pollination technique to preserve the integrity of your squash seeds. See below for instructions on hand pollination. (Kohala Center)
1) Cap or bag female and male flower buds on the same plant and nearby plants of the same variety.
2) When male flowers bloom, turn over their petals to expose anthers and gently roll the anthers over the stigma of the bloomed female flowers. You should see a layer of pollen on the stigma.
3) Cap or bag female flowers again to keep out insects. Mark female flowers using a piece of string or similar marker.
Sources: Kohala Center - Saving Your Own Vegetable Seeds; http://howtosaveseeds.com/seedsavingdetails.php#squashfamily ; http://www.fedcoseeds.com/seeds/seed_saving.htm ; http://www.motherearthnews.com/organic-gardening/growing-squash/growing-winter-squash-zmaz10jjzraw.aspx
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