Saving squash seeds?

(notice the followup header to r.g.e.)
How mature does a squash need to be for you to sucessfully save the seeds? I let a volunteer squash vine grow in my garden this year (actually I transplanted it from a path to a big bed where it could run) and it turned out to be an odd variety that I've never grown before but like very much. It's probably a cross between a Tatume that I grew a few years ago and a yellow straightneck or crookneck. The vines run and branch like a pumpkin vine (like the Tatume), but stay relatively short.
While I was out of town for 3 weeks, it set its first few fruits, and I picked the big hard-shelled squash when I got back. The seeds are full-sized, but the shell of the squash was still soft enough I could scratch it with my thumbnail, barely. The plant has started bearing good again, and I don't really want to let another fruit mature on the vine and have the plant shut down again.
I still have one of those 4 big fruits that I haven't cut yet if the seeds will continue to ripen off the vine fruit. It has been sitting on the kitchen counter for 2 weeks and shows no signs of rotting, if that's any indication how mature it is.
I suppose I could test the germination of the seeds that I saved, but I don't know if they need a few months dormancy before they will sprout.
Thanks, regards, Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

Bob, I would guess that the seeds are fine. If they look full size, are plump and have a hard coat, they should grow. I assume you realize that what you get, from those seeds, will not be the same as what you are picking this year. Some may be similar, some may resemble one parent, one may resemble the other parent. Some may be short vined and some might be long. This is true even if the squash was self pollinated this year. (You would have to grow out several seeds to see the full range of possibilities.) If it got pollinated by yet another squash or pumpkin, then just about anything is possible. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try it. It IS kind of fun.
Steve
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Steve wrote:

I plan to sow a bunch of the seeds and select the ones that most resemble the parent plant. After 3 or 4 generations I'm hoping to get a reasonably pure strain.
Best regards, Bob
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zxcvbob wrote:

That should work just fine. You'll probably want to do a taste test of the squash on each plant before you decide if it is worthy of seed production for the next round. You will also want to use a twist tie or something to keep the chosen flowers from opening and being pollinated by who knows what. Pollinate the flower yourself and close it back up. Mark the selected ones so you don't eat them! The ones you have now, for seed, were open pollinated, I assume, from your original post. Are there other squash near by? If so, you should consider hand pollinating one before the season ends. It's going to take much longer than 3 or 4 generations to stabilize things if your seed has one parent of something completely different.
Steve
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Steve wrote:

There are othe squash (yellow crooknecks) nearby *now*, but not when those first few fruit were set that I saved the seeds from. Also, the yellow crooknecks are not producing hardly anything and this one bastard squash plant is producing more than we can eat -- so I may pull the y.c's out to make room for some bok choy or english peas or something else that can take a little cold.
Bob
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zxcvbob said:

No need for dormancy. You can test them now if you like.
I wish you better luck than I had with my 'volunteer squash' experiment. The first generation was wonderful, but none of the progeny were worth the space (too bland and watery) and I lacked the patience (and room) to really follow through.
--
Pat in Plymouth MI ('someplace.net' is comcast)

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I don't know if I would tie blossoms shut. I read some where that when the baby squash turn yellow and rot on the vine, it was caused when the blossom was not visited by enough pollinators. Let us know how your "XYZ BOB" summer or winter squash turns out.
Dwayne

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Dwayne wrote:

No,no...when you tie the blossoms shut it is so you can go out later and do the pollinating yourself. That way you know exactly which plant the pollen came from. It's good to tie it back shut right after, so a bee doesn't come and add pollen from somewhere else. Even if the pollen carried by the bee only contributes to a few of the seeds, they just might be the seeds you choose to plant next year.
Steve
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