Growing Squash from Grocery Produce

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I've recently discovered butternut squash and I'd like to grow my own. The squash I've gotten from the grocery store seems to have viable seeds inside. They're nice and white and firm. I broke one open and found it to have a seed in it; it wasn't hollow. I've never grown butternut squash so I really have no idea how the seeds should look when ripe and viable. Do you think these seeds would grow some squash? I'd really like to grow these myself rather than paying $3 a piece for the vegetable. I've discovered that I like them roasted with potatoes and sweet potatoes.

Thumbnail by ButterflyChaser
Tonto Basin, AZ

Try to germinate a couple. Soak in water overnight, put a half inch deep in a plastic cup of ordinary dirt or starter mixl. Keep moist and in a warm spot.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

I do plan to try that in the spring, but I was just wondering if anyone has tried it. I've been able to grow cantaloupes and watermelons from store-bought produce. With many fruits and veggies, you have to wait until they dry on the vine to gather viable seeds. The squash I got is definitely not dried.

I often pitch rotten veggies from the fridge outside the kitchen door. And I've actually gotten cucumbers and tomatoes grow from those store-bought veggies.

What other fruits or veggies have any of you grown from store produce?

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

I planted spaghetti squash seeds harvested from store-bought and they worked fine. I dried them well first and then planted later. Try it.

Arlington, TX

I tried this with a store bought Acorn squash.
I rinsed off all the debris from the seeds and left them on a glass dish to dry for a few days.
then i just planted them as is in a large pot a couple months later.

The weird thing was they seemed to grow just fine but all the plants only produced the male flowers so no squashes formed.only thing i could think of to explain that
was they were all from the same fruit so they wouldn't produce the other type of flower.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Interesting. I hadn't thought about male and female plants, but I suppose you need pollen from both to create the fruit.

I've gathered seeds from two different butternut squashes. I guess I will plant some from each batch. I gathered seeds from a spaghetti squash too so I'll grow that too and see what happens.

I've grown some ornamental squashes and boy do that shoot up fast! I made the mistake of starting them inside one year and they nearly consumed a room in my house before spring got here. LOL

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)


If you have the time, garden space, and inclination to try growing squash from grocery store seeds, I'd say, go for it.

There are certain hazards in growing any vegetable from grocery store specimens:

-- Beginners may have a hard time figuring out how to tell the difference between ripe, viable seed and non-viable seed. Experienced and/or well-read seed savers won't have that problem very much.

-- A large number of vegetable varieties are F1 hybrids. They won't necessarily come true from F2 seed i.e. next generation; if a Hatfield marries a McCoy, their kids are the F1 generation of the "Peace in the Mountains Hybrid Human," as it were, and their grandkids by the cross are the F2.

Easybake's acorn squash, whose seeds produced plants with all male flowers, was probably an F1 hybrid. I hope you at least got lots of fried squash blossoms out of the deal, Easy. They're delicious.

I have it on the word of one cutting-edge gardener that eggplant is one species for which F2 seed is quite likely to produce a heck of a nice eggplant that may be different from its parent, but not by much. So if you get an eggplant that's already starting to turn yellow, it's going to be pretty seedy if you try to eat it. So it may be a good idea to wait until it's all bright yellow and starting to rot, and then save F2 seed.

-- Another possible hazard is seed-borne plant disease, but that's still somewhat of a hazard with ANY seed you get from any source. Knowledgable seed-savers know how to minimize these risks.

Please see for a good run-down of all the basics. There are also two very good books I can recommend if anybody's interested.

If you're prepared to accept "failure" in the sense of not getting the results you want, it's still worth it for a lot of people. My perspective is, in science, no experiment is a failure if it teaches you something. And in gardening, the costs of that knowledge are seldom severe. It's not like you're Madame Curie finding out the hard way that radiation causes aplastic anemia.

Here are some tips on saving seed from grocery store specimens:

-- LEGUMES: Beans and peas of all kinds are some of the easiest species to grow from grocery store specimens, if the seeds ripened and dried while still in the pod, and they weren't oven-dried. If the seeds were cross-pollinated, you can often tell just by looking at them. If you know how to make bean sprouts, you know how to test for germination.

-- CORN: If open-pollinated, such as Hopi Blue or Bloody Butcher, same as for legumes. But almost all sweet corn marketed nowadays is an F1 hybrid, and not worth the trouble of planting F2 seed unless you REALLY know what you're doing.

-- CUCUMBER FAMILY: Here's where your squash and melons come in. Specimens from a farmer's market are more likely to be OP; from a big chain grocery store, just as likely to be an F1 hybrid. But F2 seed whose grow-outs do something as unkind as producing only male blossoms-- that's not all that likely, really. Happened to Easybake, but it probably won't happen to you.

Even if your cucurbit is an F1, odds are very good that although the F2 generation may not resemble its F1 parent all that much, you're going to wind up with something good. Cucumbers themselves need to ripen past the point that they're not much worth eating. The rest of the family, just let it sit in a moderately warm place until it's as ripe as it's ever going to get, but still worth eating. My Banana Melon had one or two little half-rotten spots by the time I cut it open and saved seed. The REST of the melon was astoundingly scrumptious.

-- NIGHTSHADE FAMILY: If a tomato you get at the grocery store is not labelled as from a known OP/heirloom variety, it's probably an F1 hybrid. Sweet peppers, same story. Eggplant I already covered; worth a try, according to those who have tried it, but not so easy to get viable seed as one might like.

Hot peppers are usually not F1 hybrids, and are fairly good candidates for seed savers who know the basics of running a germination test on moist paper. If the hot peppers you got at the store were oven-dried, they won't germinate. If air-dried, they probably will.

-- CABBAGE FAMILY: Plants of these species do NOT like to accept their own pollen, and seed-saving is pretty difficult anyway. Lots and lots of F1 hybrids on the market. Not worth the trouble for almost all beginners, unless they're really devoted to experimenting for the sake of knowledge gained.

-- CARROT FAMILY: Similar story to cabbage family, but a little bit easier to save seed, and fewer F1 hybrids at your grocery store.

-- LETTUCE FAMILY: A very large family with many different stories. Lettuce itself, easy to save seed if you planted it in your own garden to begin with, not very easy to save from grocery store specimens. Sunflowers, fairly easy. Shungiku (Asian edible crysanthemum) is fun to grow and easy to save seed from.

-- SPINACH FAMILY: Spinach itself has very peculiar genetics; let's just no go there. Beets/Swiss chard are a fairly good candidate for "root to seed" seed saving for intermediate-level seed savers. Not so much for beginners.

... I guess that about covers it. Saving seed from grocery store stock is not for the timid. If you were all that timid, though, you wouldn't have read this far.

This message was edited Feb 12, 2012 6:05 PM

This message was edited Feb 12, 2012 6:10 PM

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Thanks for the "alert", petronius! It reminded me of "Danger, Will Robinson" and the robot waving it's arms all around. I needed the chuckle!

Butterfly, since your squash is a butternut then those seeds are more'n likely viable. Butternut is not harvested until the mature stage whereas as "summer squash" (zuchini, crookneck, etc) are harvested at the immature stage and their seeds are less likely to produce.

Keep in mind, depending on the variety of butternut, you may have a hybrid and although it can produce a fruit it may revert back to one of the parent plants or some unknown mutant. If you remember the store posting a name (like Waltham butternut) that would help.

Easybake, did you give your squash plants plenty of time before giving up on them? Most squash plants tend to only have male flowers the first few days up to several weeks before female flowers begin to appear. That's very common. Whether it was a hybrid or not doesn't come into play in that area EXCEPT I have seen some varieties touting "produces extra blossoms for frying" but if that were the case in your instance I doubt the grower would've let any fruit to form (such as what you bought in the store) if the idea was to produce flowers only. By the way, squash plants produce both male and female flowers on the same plant, not requiring a male plant and female plant.

Shoe (seed saver; miser) *grin

This message was edited Feb 12, 2012 10:43 PM

Arlington, TX

Yea the plants lived thru the the whole spring and part of the summer with just male flowers.
i checked every day. the batch i started with store bought seeds in late summer I actually
got several squashes out of.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

What I've done, Easybake, is pull the males off and eat 'em. Not sure if it encouraged the females to come on but at least I didn't have rotting flowers on the plants. Ugh.

Climate and temps may come into play but I imagine folks who are more familiar w/your Texas weather may be more helpful.


Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Shoe, I'll pay attention to the tag that's on the squash next time I buy one. Thanks for the encouragement; I'll grow a few and see what I get. I'm always up for an adventure. LOL I've been growing lots of flowers for a dozen or more years and just in the last few years, I've begun growing veggies and herbs. This year, I want LOTS of different veggies and herbs because I've started cooking healthier foods. So a big adventure awaits me now! LOL

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

I'm glad to hear of your excitement, Butterfly...
Squash would be of great value to you, too. Summer squash for fresh eating, winter squash easily stores through the winter for getting you through the "lean times" of the year.

You're off on a fun adventure. Please feel free to holler with any questions. If you're looking for anything in particular I usually have a few seeds to spare, feel free to ask.

Hope this finds you and yours healthy and happy.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

Horseshoe, my thinking was, if Easybake's seed was F2, then one of the parent varieties of the F1 may have been one of those types that produces large numbers of male blossoms, and few if any female blossoms.

Here's one:

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Thanks, petronius, but those squashes bred for blossoms are normally for summer squashes, not winter squash.

Looks like a nice zuke you referenced though...look at the size of those blossoms! Makes me wanna get out the Bisquick! :>)


Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

Ah, but don't you see which way my thoughts were headed? Acorn squash and summer squash are both Cucurbita pepo and will cross easily. And a summer squash is really just a winter squash that takes an exceptionally long time to develop a tough shell. My thoughts were, a breeder may have discovered that a "blossoms" squash makes good breeding stock for an F1 hybrid.

It's also possible that the "blossoms squash" genes are both recessive, and seldom found in the field, and some highly improbable shuffling of the genetic cards led to Easybake's "dioecious" squash. Theoretically, such a thing could happen even with an OP, especially if it was self-pollinated. To my mind, it seems more likely with an F1 hybrid, though.

...But I also think it's really cool that Easybake took the risk of something weird happening, even though she ended up with something few people would expect, OR get. High quality certified seed from the big companies like Burpee is getting to be somewhat of an expensive proposition, but home gardeners' needs are sometimes rather different from the varieties the big companies are offering. But the spirit of people like Luther Burbank, George Washington Carver, even W. Atlee Burpee himself, lives on in people like Easybake.

I just wish she'd managed to get at least ONE squash out of the deal, so we could find out what that squash was like. As you alluded in an earlier post, there's still a possibility if her squash plant had stayed in the field long enough, it would've eventually yielded female blossoms.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

p.s. @ ButterflyChaser: if you plan to grow summer squash, I do recommend trying yellow squash, one of my all-time favorite vegetables, and one of the more nutritious. I suggest giving Summer Crookneck and Early Prolific Straightneck a side-by-side trial to see which you like best. If you have the time and garden space, that is.

If you or your family think, "Oh, I don't like yellow squash," without having really tried it, try out this recipe on them:

-- Smear a chicken with good margarine, or maybe olive oil, or maybe a heart-healthy and tasty mix of corn and canola oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder, salt, pepper, and maybe some of your favorite herbs and spices. Put it in the oven to roast and keep a basting syringe, or something like it, close at hand.

-- Meanwhile, start a big pot of brown rice. Add a little salt and some mild curry powder to the cooking water, enough to color the water a faint yellow.

-- To this, when the rice is about ten minutes away from being finished, you will add equal parts of zucchini and yellow squash, about a cup of more apiece, sliced into thick slices and also split into half-rounds or even quarter-rounds if they're big enough to still leave a nice bite-sized piece after they shrink from cooking.

-- Every ten minutes or so, open the oven and baste the chicken in its own juices, but then also take some of the surplus juice and add it to the rice pot.

The chicken will no doubt finish before the rice does, so at that point you take almost ALL the surplus juice and add it to the rice pot. Let the chicken cool while the rice finishes, and... well... Let's just say, I concocted this recipe almost 40 years ago, as a college student sharing a house with a bunch of other students. Didn't get any complaints then, haven't gotten any in the meantime.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

That sounds delicious, Petronius. We do like yellow squash; in fact, it's all we knew until recently. I believe I'll grow some this year. It's much easier to peel than butternut squash. We've always eaten it fried, but since I'm learning to cook healthier, I'll try other ways, like your recipe.

I think growing from seeds is always an adventure. You never know what you'll get. I dabble in hybridizing daylilies and it's interesting to see what happens when a seedling finally blooms.

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

***giggles and snickers***

Do I understand you correctly? You PEEL summer squash? I never did.

So much of the nutrition and flavor of summer squash is in the rind... If you're working on a healthier diet, one thing I'd definitely start with is, don't peel summer squash. If by chance you think the rind is too tough, start picking 'em younger, and/or cooking them longer.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Well, now, let me think a minute. No I guess we don't peel summer squash, now that I think about it. We usually slice it and batter it and fry it. Down here in the South, we fry everything. We even bread green beans and deep fry them, if you can believe that. But I'm getting away from all that fried stuff.

I was planning to roast the summer squash like I do the butternut squash. I cut it up in chunks and mix it with herbs, spices, onions, garlic, and olive oil and roast in the over for 45 minutes or so. Would I not need to peel the summer squash when cooked this way? That would sure make cooking it a lot easier! Can I stop peeling the red potatoes and the sweet potatoes too? All that peeling takes so much time. I'd love to skip it and reap the benefits of extra nutrients too.

I'm new to cooking healthy, in case you haven't figured that out. If it's not breaded and deep fried in bacon fat, it's an alien to me. LOL

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Last summer I had volunteer melons sprout up all over the garden, so I let them "do their thing." Some were wonderfully sweet, others tasted awful! I kept seed from the best ones and will sow them again this summer.

A couple of summers ago I transplanted some volunteer tomatoes to a small area of the garden. They produced the most wonderful looking, disease free maters! BUT - they had absolutely no taste!

You win a few, you lose a few - but it's always fun to try.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

ButterflyChaser - theirs no need to peel any potato whether it's red, white or sweet.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Really? No peeling?? OMG, Honey, I love you!!! Peeling them is the big time waster. Shoot, I can have my roasted vegetables totally done in about an hour now. I won't put off making them so often now that I'm armed with that knowledge.

I had heard that most of the nutrients are in the peel of many fruits and veggies. And I also heard that the brighter the fruit/veggie, the more nutritious it is. For instance, a red apple has more nutrients than a yellow one.

I saved seeds from the most delicious cantaloupes last year. They were sooooo sweet and almost melted in my mouth. I'm looking forward to growing them this year. I hope they are tasty. Oh gosh, now you've got me antsy for spring planting. LOL

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

With potatoes, the eyes contain a mild poison which can survive cooking, and those need to be cut out.

The rest of the peel can stay on, and should for best nutrition. "Home fries" are my favorite thing to do with a potato, and for that, I'd never even think of removing the whole peel.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Oh, I didn't know that about the eyes of a potato! I thought they were cut out because they're "ugly spots". I had no idea they were actually toxic. That's some important info to have. Thank you!

Houston Heights, TX(Zone 9a)

Butterfly, Ive been eating potato eyes my wholel life and never noticed any repercussions from it unless you count craziness but that might not be the potato's fault.

Efland, NC(Zone 7a)

Mornin', all...

Butterfly, I wouldn't worry about tater eyes in the least. I eat raw potatoes like some people eat apples, no worries here. If I have a spud that is beginning to sprout I'll rub the nubbins off before eating or cooking though. I know when potatoes start showing green I'll peel it off (it's a bitter taste) but even then I read somewhere years back we'd have to eat quite a number of pounds of green potatoes at one time to suffer any real effect from the solanine (green area).

I seldom peel veggies. preferring to eat the whole thing, especially spuds, carrots, turnips, etc. As for "peeling" butternut squash if you just cut them in half, scoop out the innards, and bake them you can skip any peeling process. And while you have the oven on throw in anything else you want to eat and save on the gas or power bill, eh?

And remember, if you're wanting to speed up some cooking/eating habits wash and slice your summer squash (yellow squash, zucchini) and eat it raw, dipping it in a low-fat Ranch dressing or the like. Yummy!

Shoe (back to the greenhouse for more seed sowing...ya'll are making me too hungry!) :>)

This message was edited Feb 14, 2012 2:13 PM

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Butterfly - I agree with Horseshoe - there's no need to remove the eyes from potatoes. If you keep them in the dark, they won't turn green.

I usually cook potatoes in the microwave. Just poke a hole or two in them so they don't explode! If I'm baking a chicken, I put a few scrubbed spuds on the rack around the bird.

On cold winter days (like today) I'll scrub a few of the very large sweet potatoes that were harvested from our garden last October, and put as many as will fit in the oven on 350F for about 2 hours. When they cool, I slice them into rounds and freeze them. When I'm ready to cook them, I defrost and saute them until they are just this side of burnt!

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

You can freeze raw sweet potatoes? Oooooh, now you're talking my language! I just bought a big deep freezer and I'm always looking for something I can store in it until ready to cook or eat. I may have to see where I can grow a patch of sweet potatoes. I'm beginning to like them more than regular potatoes, especially since I'm diabetic.

Some of the fancy restaurants around here have started serving sweet potato fries. OMG they're delicious! Maybe I'll freeze some fries to cook when I'm ready.

You guys are just so full of information! I'm learning a lot here! Thank you!

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

ButterflyChaser - I cook then freeze sweet potatoes. (see above)

I'm a type 2 diabetic, so I know where you're coming from. I used to weigh 200lbs! It took me 18 months to take off 70lbs.

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Thanks, Honeybee. I guess I read thru it too fast. I got too excited! LOL I'll start using your method too. I've got my brother hooked on roasted veggies too. He lives next door and hints regularly that he doesn't have any veggies...which means "Make me some!" LOL

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

Quote from HoneybeeNC :
ButterflyChaser - I cook then freeze sweet potatoes. (see above)

I'm a type 2 diabetic, so I know where you're coming from. I used to weigh 200lbs! It took me 18 months to take off 70lbs.

Please allow me to just say CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! =) (and a BRAVO!! in there too!) < =D

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Thanks, speediebean ^^_^^

Daughter and I walk around the neighborhood every evening for an hour to keep ourselves "trim".

Annapolis, MD

I have had very good success growing spaghetti squash and butternut squash from seed taken from grocery store produce. I removed and washed the seeds, dried them with towel and placed on coffee filters to thoroughly dry over several days, stirring them up each day to aerate all sides. Once dry, I stored them in paper envelopes. That's all! Every one of them germinated and produced lovely squash.

Charlotte, NC(Zone 7b)

Sue - congratulations on your success growing squash from supermarket seeds, and for sharing your results.

I've often wondered if doing this would be successful - think I'll give it a try, too.

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Just so ya'll know how much fried foods are truly valued in the deep South, they're serving FRIED KOOLAID at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, as we speak...

Last year it was FRIED BEER...


Frankfort, KY(Zone 6a)

Yummm Fried Beer

Never had it but will be looking for some.

Somewhere in, MD(Zone 7b)

And here I thought I'd heard it all when I saw Fried Oreos!! HOW do you fry beer or Kool-Aid!?!?

SE Houston (Hobby), TX(Zone 9a)

Some kind of way, they figured out how to deep fry an outer shell that has the liquid beer/koolaid center...

The year before the Fried Beer, it was FRIED TWINKIES...

Northeast, AR(Zone 7a)

Yep, down here in the south, we'll fry anything. Fried green beans and fried pickles were the wierdest...until now. Fried beer and coolaide tops it all, I do believe!

Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

Maybe I'm really showing my age here, but I'd be concerned if it was grape Kool Aid and it was being prepared by a reverend named Jones.

This message was edited Mar 1, 2012 2:41 PM

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