Growing Things: An Accidental Gardener

Our dogs enjoy baked butternut squash in their stuffed KONG toys, so I prepped one for roasting recently. As usual, I cut it open and removed the seeds, planning to save them for planting later (it was an organic squash). It was only when I spread the seeds to dry that I realized one had germinated inside the squash.

It’s winter and I wasn’t planning on starting any seeds right now, but there it was: a tenacious little sprout with a surprisingly long stalk and visible roots. When I looked more carefully at the pile of seeds, I realized that two of the seeds had germinated, but one was badly damaged and couldn’t be planted. Next time I’ll have to be more careful, just in case…but I’ve never found a germinated seed in a squash before!

That left just the one seed.

I grabbed a little pot that already had moist potting soil in it and made a small hole, into which I placed the sprout. I then covered it with some soil and put it in the windowsill. Would it push up through the soil?

The next day, the seed head had emerged from the soil. Still alive! Since I wanted to try to keep the plant alive, I decided to do a little research, and, ironically, discovered that I’d accidentally planted that germinated sprout correctly, in about 1/2″-1″ of soil. Pure luck!

As I read more about methods for pre-sprouting seeds, I also realized that the gelatinous seed goop (like pumpkin guts) inside the squash was the perfect sprouting medium – the gel in Rimol’s instructions approximates the natural seed goo. Once again, Nature amazes.

I’ve been placing the pot in a sunny window each day. Maybe, with some luck, I’ll be able to plant this little squash outside when it warms up; mid-April is really when outdoor sowing of squash is advised, so this one will be indoors for a long time yet. And, in the meantime, I’ll be trying mightily to keep it alive and well.

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