Pushing the Limits of Gardening
As a gardener, I've learned how important pollination is for growing fruits and vegetables. Many plants require pollination in order to yield tasty fruit or vegetables. Every time I go out into my garden, I check for signs all my different plants are growing, and I check to see if those plants requiring pollination are growing flowers.
The interesting thing about pollination is that some plants of the same species can cross-pollinate to create hybrid plants. A friend of mine first taught me about cross-pollination and suggested that I create some cool pumpkin-squash hybrids. I hadn't realized that these plants could cross-pollinate! So, that very summer, I decided to test what would happen if I cross-pollinated squash and pumpkins and planted both in my garden.
Squash and pumpkins are both members of the same species of plant called Curcurbita pepo. Because they are members of the same species, they can cross-pollinate. Pumpkins and squash plants both produce male and female flowers. Male flowers pollinate female flowers, which grow squash or pumpkins. A squash plant could easily pollinate a pumpkin plant and vice versa to create hybrids. I like to call these hybrids "squashkins."
How to Grow a Squashkin
I planted my yellow squash plants in a large child's swimming pool on my patio. I drilled holes in the bottom for drainage and filled it with the cheapest soil I could find at Lowe's. My pumpkin patch was planted in my front garden, a good enough distance away from my squash patch that I didn't have to worry about natural cross-pollination, but close enough that I could easily tend and water both patches without a lot of walking.
Method #1: Plant Two Different Plants Close Together
The first method for growing hybrids is as simple as planting your different plants close together. There are plenty of pollen-loving bugs who will get in your garden and carry pollen from flower to flower. When pumpkins and squash are in the same garden bed, all you have to do is let mother nature do her thing, and bugs and the wind will help you get some cool hybrids growing.
Since I first did this experiment years ago, I've had pumpkin-squash hybrids grow on accident. I think these small yellow bugs I've found in both my squash and pumpkin patches are responsible for this. I try to plant my patches far apart to prevent cross-pollination, but you can never stop bugs or the wind, so sometimes hybrids happen.
Method #2: Hand Pollination
Pollinating a squash or pumpkin plant by hand is pretty easy. You find a male flower, tear away the petals, revealing the anther of the flower, which is covered in pollen. Take that and rub it inside of a female flower to pollinate it. It's easy to tell the difference between male/female flowers. The male flower is just a big, yellow flower. A female flower has a small squash beneath it.
I definitely didn't want all of my plants to potentially have hybrids on them, so hand pollination was my choice. Pumpkin-squash hybrids are neat to grow, but I also wanted some nice, normal squash and pumpkins for cooking and eating.
Cleaning and Cooking a Squashkin
I love yellow squash. I'd say it's my favorite vegetable to eat. Cleaning my squashkin was really weird but fun.
The number of seeds in what looked like a yellow squash was crazy! I've never seen a squash with two handfuls of seeds inside. Because the squashkin was more like a pumpkin, I couldn't slice it like I would a squash. With squash, I slice it into thin slices and then batter and fry.
The squashkin was so pumpkin-shaped it didn't make sense to slice it. Instead, I shredded it like I would if I were making hashbrowns. After I cleaned out all the seeds, I shredded the squashkin and made some fritters. They tasted exactly like normal squash fritters.
Continue to Experiment
I'm pretty sure there won't be a big demand for squashkins, but they are pretty cool to grow. It's a neat experiment to do if you are growing both pumpkins and yellow squash to see what sizes and shapes you get. I managed to get two squashkins from this experiment. One looked more like a pumpkin and one looked more like squash but with a bumpier exterior.
If you do choose to grow pumpkin-squash hybrids, you can always save your seeds to grow the next year to get more hybrid plants growing and see if you produce more squashkins. Experimenting with hybrids is never-ending. You could even add some zucchini plants into the mix to see if you can get interesting hybrids with all three varieties of plants. I love gardening and all the neat things you can do simply with some dirt, sun, and water!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Casey White
Tammy Winters from Oregon on October 14, 2020:
Casey White.... I hope so also! Thanks again for your tips.
Casey White (author) on October 14, 2020:
Thank you so much tammyfrost! I really was lucky to get anything this year. We had so much rain that 8 out of 10 squash plants basically rotted they were so wet all the time and I got nothing out of them. Hand pollination is a great skill though. I hope you get some squash before the cold hits.
Tammy Winters from Oregon on October 13, 2020:
This is an Amazing Article. Thanks. I was hand Pollinating my zucchini this year with a Qtip. My squash took forever to grow so I am not sure if they will make now that we are in the middle of October.