After two years of growing my own pumpkin patch, I think I can consider myself a true “pumpkin farmer” now. Haha! Today I wanted to share how I save my pumpkin seeds for the next year’s pumpkin crop!
You can totally harvest seeds from your store bought pumpkins, but with that said, I have only harvest ones from the pumpkins that I grew from seed.
The first thing you want to know about harvesting seeds from your pumpkins, is that if you are growing a bunch of varieties (of any kind of squash) there is a possibility that the next generation of seeds may have gotten cross pollinated. So as long as you are okay with the possibility of having some wonky looking pumpkins, you can save your own seeds for next year’s garden.
Personally, I always try and hand pollinate my pumpkins to ensure that they stay the same variety, but since I grow so many kinds in one space, you never really know what you will end up with next year.
All my pumpkins are heirlooms. I grow the above varieties. When harvesting seeds, I usually pick the pumpkins that I liked the shape & color of, and harvest those ones for next years crops. When I grew pumpkins from those seeds, I noticed that those same characteristics were genetically passed down to the next year’s crop. So my big pink pumpkin with green spots produced seeds that yielded big pink pumpkins with green spots, etc.
If you really want to make sure that your pumpkins don’t cross pollinate, you can always put nylon over the female flower the day before it blooms, and hand pollinate it, avoiding the bee’s carrying other variety’s pollen over. Personally, I don’t mind them mixing. The main reason I hand pollinate is because I want to ensure the success of my pumpkins growing & getting enough pollen to mature.
Pick the pumpkins you want to harvest seeds from. If you have multiples of the same type, I reccomend taking seeds from several of them.
Cut your pumpkin in half.
Scoop out the guts of each pumpkin into a a colander or strainer. Keep each pumpkin’s seeds separate & write down the name/description next to each pile.
Wash the seeds in warm water. You want to get all that goo off.
When selecting the seeds, you want the healthy looking plump ones. I also added a tiny squirt of diluted bleach to the water for any pumpkins that were on the verge of rotten (here’s to hoping those ones grow!)
Once washed off, pat them dry.
Space the seeds out (make sure they aren’t touching each other) and let them dry out for about a week.
If you are super organized, you can always take a photo of the pumpkin you were harvesting, and keep it with that pumpkin’s seeds for visual labeling reference.
Once fully dry, label some envelopes with the kind of pumpkin seeds you are saving, and put the seeds into the envelopes. Store them in a dry, cool place.
You can cook any seeds you don’t save!
One thing I like to do when saving my pumpkin seeds is cook the pumpkins & make them into pumpkin puree. It freezes very well, and is great for cooking, and even for feeding your dog.
For this method, I simply cut the pumpkins into chunks, put them into a pan with some water and cook in the oven until they are soft (like good baked potato!) Then I scoop out the orange flesh and put it in my kitchen aid mixer (or a blender) to get it nice and smooth.
I mainly use my pumpkins for decorating, but all pumpkins are edible, so I like to used some of them for thanksgiving cooking & baking.
With that said, if you have too many pumpkins to eat, then you can also feed them to farm animals. I don’t have chickens, but my friend does. So guess where all my pumpkins are going after I’m done with them. Haha!
One question I also get is how long pumpkin seeds will last. I’ve heard that they have a shelf life of 3-4 years. I’ve only personally planted the seeds from one year before. One good way to see if your pumpkin seeds are still viable, is to put them in a bowl of water. If they float, the will most likely sprout. If they sink, they are probably duds.
That’s it for now! Hope this post inspired you to save those seeds and try your hand at growing pumpkins.