There are many reasons why you may want to save your squash or pumpkin seeds so you can grow them next year.
Perhaps your plant this year produced outstanding squash or pumpkins.
Perhaps you found a new variety that you carved into a jack-o-lantern, or perhaps you saw an unusual heirloom pumpkin or gourd at the farmer's market.
Because pumpkins, squash and gourds come in so many sizes, shapes, colors, and varieties, there are as many reasons to save their seeds and grow them again next year.
It doesn't really matter, the good news is that saving pumpkin, squash and gourd seeds is easy, even for beginner gardeners.
How To Save Squash, Pumpkin and Gourd Seeds
1. After you've cut open the pumpkin for decorations or for cooking, remove the seeds and pulp.
2. Hand separate the seeds from the pulp. Rinse the seeds with cool water.
3. There will be more seeds inside the pumpkin than you will want to plant, so once you have the seeds rinsed, look at them carefully and choose the largest seeds you can find. Larger seeds will have a better chance of germinating and growing healthy, sturdy vines.
4. Transfer seeds to paper towels and blot dry.
5. Transfer seeds to wax paper and allow to dry overnight and make sure they are spaced out otherwise the seeds will stick to one another.
6. Pumpkin seeds are sticky and if left to dry on paper towels, the seeds will stick to the paper towels.
7. Once the seeds are nice and dry, then line a baking or cookie sheet with paper towels and place the dried pumpkin seeds in a single layer.
8. Place the cookie sheet in a cool, dry place and continue to dry the seeds for four to six weeks.
9. Gather seeds and place in an envelope, like a small manila envelope. Make sure to label your envelope and note the kind of squash and the year. Store the seeds in the envelope, keeping them cool and dry.
10. You can also store them in a jar with an anti-desiccant (those little packets of silica gel that come in new coats, shoes and purses).
Note: Some hybrid varieties don't come true from seed, but you'll never know until you try.
Note: Read related story: How To Save Seeds
How To Turn Green Pumpkins Orange
Once in a while, the frost can get to your pumpkin plants and kill them while green pumpkins are still on them.
This can be disappointing after an entire summer of hard work. Well no worries, just follow these steps to help turn green pumpkins orange:
1. Harvest your green pumpkins. Cut pumpkins off the vine and leave at least 4 inches (10 cm) of vine on each top for a handle.
2. Clean your pumpkins to avoid rot and mold. Carefully wash any dirt off, dry them, and then wipe them down with a diluted bleach solution.
3. Put the pumpkins in a dry, warm, sunny location. Pumpkins need sunlight and warmth to turn orange and to avoid rot.
4. Place the green side of the pumpkins towards the sunlight. Rotate the pumpkins from time to time to allow the sunlight to reach the greener parts. Continue to rotate the pumpkins evenly for an even change to orange.
Note: This process may take a week or up to several weeks depending upon how green your pumpkins are.