If I plants the seeds from a fresh grocery store squash, do they first need a period of dormancy?
Ramsey County Minnesota
Harvesting seeds is a rather complicated process. You need to be aware that the squash you bought at the grocery store is probably a hybrid. If so the seeds may be sterile or, if they do sprout, they will not produce the same squash as you bought. They have been cross pollinated by another variety. If you decide to go ahead, here is the process:
When seeds are ripe, they generally change color from white to cream or light brown, darkening to a dark brown. Since squash is a fleshy fruit, the seeds need to be separated from the pulp. Scoop the seed mass out of the fruit and place it in a bucket with a bit of water. Allow this mix to ferment for two to four days, which will kill off any viruses and separate good seeds from bad.
Good seeds will sink to the bottom of the mix, while bad seeds and pulp float. After the fermentation period has completed, simply pour off the bad seeds and pulp. Spread the good seeds on a screen or paper towel to dry. Allow them to dry completely or they will mildew.
Once the seeds are absolutely dry, store them in a glass jar or envelope. Clearly label the container with the variety of squash and the date. Place the container in the freezer for two days to kill off any residual pests and then store in a cool, dry area; the refrigerator is ideal. Be aware that seed viability decreases as time passes, so use the seed within three years.