I was going through my seed collection to see what I needed to buy, when I found I had 23 packets of various winter squash seeds and 4 packets of summer squash. Years back, my mother-in-law was given these (they were bought to be sent oversees to help impoverished farmers, only to find out that they weren't allowed to send them over seas). They were packaged for 2006, and she got them in 2007. Since she had no use for them, she gave them to me. I had no desire to try my hand at growing squash at the time (I didn't even know what winter squash was, and zucchini--which I hate--was the only summer squash I knew of.). But, being the little hoarder that I was/am, I stashed them away. This year I discovered them again, and I already had plans to try growing squash! They spent 5 years at the top of a deep shelf at my old house, and then another 4.5 years stashed in my rather humid, but cool, garage.
My question is, do you think any of them will germinate? How much time/effort/space should I spend on these? I'd already planned on ordering squash seeds, but should I delay that purchase in case any of these germinate? If I use them, how many should I stick in a mound?
It should be noted that I am still no where near having as "green" of a thumb as I'd like.
Seed viability will go down over years, but really all that means is a smaller % will germinate than if fresh. How much etc... really comes down to the parent plant and the genes it passed down. Some will likely still germinate, as mentioned some seeds will even survive thousands of years. I would say to expect less than 50% germination for that age of seeds, but sometimes old seeds can surprise you.
You will never know the results until you try them, and I hope you share the results here.
"Where will you drive your own picket stake? Where will you choose to make your stand? Give me a threshold, a specific point at which you will finally stop running, at which you will finally fight back." (Derrick Jensen)
Most squash seed packets recommend planting several (or more than several) seeds in a mound and then thinning after they come up. Seed that age, I would probably sow at double or triple the recommended density, but I would strongly expect you'll get sufficient germination.
I had some eight year old butternut squash seeds from my father's last crop, an extra long-necked variety he developed, planted eight of them in 2015 and four came up. I got several squash from them, and have the line renewed annually now.
We find this kind of rampant individuality very disturbing. But not this tiny ad: