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Can squash seeds survive winter?

 
Joshua Msika
Posts: 66
Location: Nova Scotia
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The title says it all. Can squash and other cucurbits survive winter?

I have been taking the seeds from any squash or pumpkin and burying them under our woodchip mulch. Now I'm wondering if there's actually any point in doing so. I am in zone 5b so our winters are pretty cold and they may kill the seeds...

Do you have experience with this? Do you collect cucurbit seeds or do you let them self-seed?
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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I dont know if the seeds will lose viability, but come spring they might germinate, only to be killed by frost again.
 
Kay Bee
Posts: 471
Location: Jackson County, OR (Zone 7)
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In NC (zone 7) we would have volunteers of pumpkins and cukes (and many other things) pop up in random places around the yard after the squirrels got through with the fruits.... so they can certainly take freezing.  below 0F, I'm not sure.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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occasionally squash will volunteer in Michigan gardens after overwintering..but generally it is an entire squash that overwintered cause it was damaged or rotted..not just a bare seed laying around.

lots of plants will grow well from overwintered spoiled food laying on top of the ground or in a compost pile..i think they may need that body of spoiling fruit around them.

also..your seed may not come true
 
Aljaz Plankl
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I overwintered tomato, squash and pumpkin fruits out in the field. There were lots of seedlings coming spring. Also if i left bare seeds to overwinter they do. No problem. Zone 5, temperate climate.
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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Plankl wrote:
I overwintered tomato, squash and pumpkin fruits out in the field. There were lots of seedlings coming spring. Also if i left bare seeds to overwinter they do. No problem. Zone 5, temperate climate.


Im curious how you overwintered the tomatoes? Row covers or greenhouse or something?
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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spoiled squash in compost piles have been known to make huge plants in spring..however..they might not be the squash you expected when you harvest them
 
Aljaz Plankl
Posts: 384
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Brenda, that's why i'm slowly making a seed stock of pumpkins and squashes which are edible and do not cross pollinate. Even not with other edible. One of them right now i have is fig leaf pumpkin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cucurbita_ficifolia). This one do not cross pollinate with any other. Pumpkins and squashes really do like to pollinate. If edible cross pollinate with other edible it might be good. But if it cross pollinate with ornamentals which are bitter, then fruits are not good anymore.

Rob, i have not overwintered the whole tomato plant. I was referring to the question in the title. So, tomato fruits easily stay out over winter on ground, where i want them to grow next year. Seeds are then viable and they germinate in spring.
 
Rob Sigg
Posts: 715
Location: PA-Zone 6
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gotcha, so you just put the whole tomato where you want it to grow next year. I assume if its heirloom it will be just as good as the prior year? Have you ever experimented with the genetic evolution of the plants to achieve a certain result? For example, saving seeds from the earliest ripening fruit to develop a whole crop of early ripening fruits, or cold hardy etc.?
 
Aljaz Plankl
Posts: 384
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Yes, whole tomato where i want it to grow next year. Do not cover them with mulch. Do that in spring. I have done this the first time last year from 2009-10 season.
As genetics go, I don't go in such details. I just save healthy fruits and put them on ground for next year. And i save them from first ones to latest ones. Most important point for me is to grow seeds from my own climate, soil etc. So year after year i'm growing new seeds which were growing on my place.
 
Paul Cereghino
gardener
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Location: South Puget Sound, Salish Sea, Cascadia, North America
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Great book called 'SEed to Seed' by Suzanne Ashworth discusses the sexual habits of a wide range of common and uncommon annuals by species.

Tomato (Lycopersicon lycopersicum) - flower structure varies among varieties - many modern varieties have retracted styles that limit cross breeding.  Double blossomed varieties of early beefstake have exposed stigma and are more succeptable to crossing.  Other species like L. pimpinellifolium (current tomato) cross more readily.

Most squash come from 3 species: Cucurbita pepo (acorn, crookneck, zucs), C. moschata (butternunt..), and C. maxima (hubbard, turban, pumpkin...).  Cucumis sativus (includes a variety of cucs), Each species is as promiscuous as the bees that move the pollen, but ONLY WITH other varieties within species.  A cross can produce unpredictable results, but you could grow a butternut, a pumpkin, and an acorn next to eachother and have true seed unless your bees are visiting other varieties within species...

Seed to Seed gather the wisdom of the Seed Saver's Exchange and is the best reference I have found.

 
Varina Lakewood
Posts: 116
Location: Colorado
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Also in zone 5b here.
We get -13F as our avg. lowest temp several times each winter.
We get volunteer squash every year. From loose seeds, not rotted fruit, though most are probably buried. We've had volunteer squash, beans, peas, potatoes, lettuce, kale, onions, tomatoes and something that's either garden huckleberry (likely) or tomatillo. (Can't quite tell which at this point. Possibly some of both.) Some I'm sure are from compost (we bury it raw) or visiting critters, while others are from "escapee" seeds, lost while planting or washed away. And others yet from plants gone to seed. Hard to tell which is which sometimes, though I'm positive the petunias in my vegetable garden came in with some visiting critter or other.
Lots of other volunteers, too, but not really vegetables.
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
Posts: 4434
Location: North Central Michigan
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in michigan i have found that a discarded fruit will reseed in spring, but it is intact inside the fruit that rots over winter and in spring is ready to fruit..as far as planting the seed, directly I doubt it. The seed would likely sprout way too early and then the plant would die over winter.

often if you have a ..say winter squash..that has gone bad and you toss it out...you quite often will get volunteers from it the following spring..but that is intact, not planted.
 
maikeru sumi-e
Posts: 313
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Hi, yes, they can unexpectedly. I had some squash seeds come up on their own in the garden when they didn't grow last year, though I was puzzled where they'd disappeared... Unfortunately they didn't make it this spring because of frosts.
 
Daniel Morse
Posts: 248
Location: SW Michigan
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Ok, the difinitive from the old farmers, mother and father.

Mom is more of the fruit and veg farmer. She says plainly that you should be getting volonters. But doubtfull if it was in a compost pile. The drying of the freeze helps the seeds survive. A wet fall will probabbly destroy the seeds in the Mellon or ground.

The viability will depend on the background of the seed. The old/heirloom varieties will be far more likely to make it. She says she has seldom had a hybrid do well. Even when we were kids, the old ladies had cross breed fruit and veg that was particular to that garden and local area. Flowers too.

Good luck.
 
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