Garden of Eatin' / Vegetables

Sprouting Squash… From Inside a Squash

Seedlings germinating inside a squash

I’m a gourd hoarder. At the end of the summer, my kitchen is always full of summer squash and winter squash in different stages of maturity. I’ll store a couple on the counter, an armful in the pantry, some more in our laundry room… wherever I have an extra shelf for the various pattypans, butternuts, zucchini and pumpkins I’ve been growing all season.

Inevitably, a few will be forgotten… and this is what I discovered last week when I noticed an unusually wrinkly squash on the topmost shelf in my kitchen.

It reminds me of an awful movie called “The Ruins,” (seriously, don’t watch it) where predatory vines start growing from inside the main characters’ bodies. Except these are seedlings, having just pushed their way through the flesh of a cucurbit… a bit gruesome, if you think about it.

Summer squash with sprouted seedlings

It seems the right combination of warmth, humidity, and a slowly rotting squash created the perfect environment for the seeds to germinate. I can only imagine the nutrient-rich compost that’s been brewing for at least a month or two, as the squash started to decompose from the inside out.

Sadly, squash seedlings won’t survive a coastal winter in these parts, so I had to toss the whole thing in the compost heap… which means I will probably end up with a hundred seedlings in the spring.

About Author

I'm a plant lover, passionate road-tripper, and cookbook author whose expert advice and bestselling books have been featured in TIME, Outside, HGTV, and Food & Wine. The No-Waste Vegetable Cookbook is my latest book. Garden Betty is where I write about modern homesteading, farm-to-table cooking, and outdoor adventuring—all that encompass a life well-lived outdoors. After all, the secret to a good life is... Read more »


  • Silly Little Sheep
    June 19, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Nature is amazing. My compost keeps growing tomatoes, yours will be growing squash babies 🙂

  • Kerry -
    November 10, 2013 at 8:56 am

    that is pretty cool!

  • Margo, Thrift at Home
    November 9, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    That is the funniest looking thing! Glad you took a picture before the compost 🙂

  • Kira
    November 9, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    This totally happened to me with some corn cobs I threw into the compost heap. They had been in the refrigerator too long and were no longer edible, so I tossed them out. About a month later, I noticed a clump of seedlings in an odd spot in the garden, so dug down and pulled out a corn cob. The kernels were sprouting while still attached! Wish I had taken a picture.

    • Linda Ly
      November 11, 2013 at 2:23 am

      Haha, how neat!

  • Rozzie Mistry
    November 8, 2013 at 2:15 pm

    Nature never fails to impress me with its will to adapt and survive!

  • joanne
    November 8, 2013 at 8:18 am

    A couple years ago I put a Cinderella squash under a mandarin tree thinking it would provide compost during the winter. The following October we found a 20 lb. Cinderella squash nicely situated on a crotch of the mandarin tree. I appreciate how squash vines look hanging on a garden fence or from a tree — primitive little spots throughout the yard.

    • Linda Ly
      November 11, 2013 at 2:23 am

      I throw lots of rotted squash and squash guts into our compost, but all I get are thousands of weedy little squash seedlings all over my garden beds in the spring! So tenacious they are.

  • Cary Bradley
    November 8, 2013 at 7:07 am

    Beautiful! I once neglected a beautiful pumpkin on a marble topped table and damaged the surface. Be careful how long you leave those beasts unattended, is my humble advice ;).


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