I bought some Butternut squash from the local Mennonite store, from local growers, more than likely organic. Stored them (badly, it's a long story, yes, I know better) and the other day noticed one was bad, another was headed that way. Cut them to see if there was salvageable squash in there to cook.
Failed to take pictures, I should have. Weirdness. The rind part looked ok, for about 1/4 inch depth, the inside was this mushy odd stuff, didn't look too horrible, but definitely not good. The one that was definitely bad, the rot had gotten to the rind, the one that looked ok, it just hadn't got that far yet. I declared them both chicken food, and put them out. One bird pecked one bite, wiped her beak, and that was it, chickens won't eat them. Ok, I'll leave them out for the possum. Possum didn't touch them. That possum eats everything. That's unnerving. I decided since I'm not hot composting right now to put them in the city trash pick up, I don't want whatever they have.
I cleaned the seeds, as I always do. They felt a bit odd but are drying out ok. So my question is:
Do I keep or trash these seeds? I have no clue what these squash had, if anyone knows, is it in the seeds too? I'll dump them rather than end up with squash the possum won't eat.
And do I cut all my butternuts to check them? I have no freezer space if they are good...
What IS this??
hau Pearl, first off, did you store these near other fruits like apples, pears, etc.? if so the ethylene gasses from those might have caused the problem.
What it sounds more like to me is that these squash were not properly hardened (cured) before they were put up for sale.
Butternut is very much like sweet potatoes and other winter squashes, it has to be allowed to harden (cure).
If the Mennonites didn't cure these prior to putting them out for sale, and you didn't have enough ventilation where you stored them, that could be the culprit(s).
Moisture issues generally start rot from the skin inwards, so I don't think that was what happened here.
Most likely these were simply sold wet (curing allows the flesh time to release some of the grow season moisture out through the skin as it cures to form a harder "rind" like barrier.
As far as the seeds go, they probably will not be any good for planting a new crop, this form of rot starts in the seed pocket and moves out towards the skin.
Not properly cured may be it, I did have them stored on a rack, and part of the bad storage is they are in the house in a heated room. (No other place right now, I do know better, just have no better options.) It IS the same place I put squash last year, and the longest ones held out for the whole year, I cut them when I started buying new ones in the fall.
Hm. the seeds looked ok, felt weird, but did clean up visually. It did look like it came from the center, and was working it's way out.
So if this doesn't sound like a fungus or something, is it probably ok to fling the seeds someplace and see if I get volunteers? I'm sure I can find someplace to garden for the deer :)
Do I need to sacrifice the rest of my squash to check them? I am out of freezer space.
Thank you for your wisdom sir! It's always appreciated :D
If you really need seed, and don't have enough other good squash to save it from, then take some of what you've saved and put it in wet paper or a pot of soil and try to germinate it. There's a good chance it will be fine. Squash are meant to sit around all winter and slowly rot and sprout in the spring, or else be eaten by an animal, survive digestion and sprout in the manure. In other words, those seeds are pretty tough.
Phil Gardener wrote: I may be missing something, but why regrow squash that didn't keep for you and were not edible?
Because I saved them out of habit when I cut the squash, didn't realize at that point whatever was going wrong was something chickens and possums considered deal breakers too. If it's just bad storage, it's worth tossing them someplace. If it's a fungus or toxin, I'll get rid of the seeds.
Alder Burns: I don't so much need seed, as it's already done, and seems a waste if they are ok. I save seed off almost every squash I cut. Just habit. More diverse genetics the better. And I have high deer pressure, if I can grow so much they can't eat it all, that works much better. I am not concerned it won't germinate, like you said, squash is tough, I am concerned about contaminating all my other plants if this is something bad.
Cassie Becker wrote: I'm curious if you can finish curing squash at home if it wasn't completed in the field. Not a help this year, but maybe a way to avoid this going forward.
Good question! I put it on a rack, and part of the bad storage is it's way too dry (the apples near it dried out badly) and too hot (heated space in the house) which seems like it would finish curing it if it needs it. I'd like to know that answer too!