October 12, 2009

Seed Saving: Cucumbers

I've done some seed saving in the past: green beans, pumpkins, sunflowers, marigolds, radishes, lettuce, things like that. But I have never tried to save cucumber seeds. After I unpacked my gardening books, I decided to give them a try.

This year I grew "National Pickling" cucumbers, an open pollinated variety (not sure if they've been around long enough to qualify as "heirloom" but probably.) I didn't plant a lot, just enough to keep us in fresh cukes this summer, because Dan loves cucumbers. Eventually I found a couple of overlooked ones, hidden under the leaves, so these became the ones I saved for seed.

Very ripe cucumber & my seed saving resource.My Saving Seeds book by Marc Rogers described an unusal way of obtaining cucumber seed for saving, so I thought I'd give it a try.

Scooping out the seed.Seeds are scooped from the mature fruit into a container.

These seeds would be difficult to pick out as is

I'm curious as to how well this will work.This is allowed to sit for five days, and stirred a couple of times a day to prevent mold from forming.

5 days later, it's a stinky goop.After five days it looked like a slimey goo, and it didn't smell too good either. I dumped the whole mess into a sieve and rinsed thoroughly.

Dried cuke seeds, ready to store until spring.Then I spread them out on a paper towel to dry. They did separate from the pulp easily and they look good now, but I have to admit I'm a big dubious as to how viable they'll be after all that. Well, we'll see.... next spring.

Seed Saving: Cucumbers photos and text copyright October 2009 


Woolly Bits said...

I haven't done it with cucumber seeds, but that's exactly what I do with tomatoes etc. works well for berries too! if you dry the whole berry it takes ages to dry and sometimes it goes mouldy during storage time, but if you let the pulp ferment a little while the seeds come out very clean - far easier to dry and keep! now - I am going to get myself some goji berries, sundried - because I read that even those still germinate and grow! given the fact that plants aren't easy to find and costly - I hope for good "pickings":)

Randy said...

Thanks for the information, Leigh! I had alot of cucumbers in my first garden this year. But I have never saved any seeds from my own garden to grow - next year I'll have to start!
~ Lynn

Julie said...

I read once that you need to keep them in a cool and dark place! I don't know if thats true but we keep our seed in our storage room.

Renee Nefe said...

I've been saving pumpkin and winter squash seeds pulp & all in the freezer. I just put them in a plastic storage bag. It seems to work well...better if I label them so I know what's what. ;o)

Tomatoe report: The heirloom tomatoes are getting ripe! I may actually get to taste one this year. The second one looks a bit off...dented from hail I guess. So I'll try to save it's seeds. The roma tomatoes are getting ripe too, but only two...not enough for sauce. sigh But I'll eat them for salad I guess.

Definately have to try the heirloom again but earlier & indoors.

had some sprinkler fun this weekend.

charlotte said...

Thank you for this very interresting post! I've never done anything like this, but then gardening is not so exciting this far north, because of the short growth season.

Leigh said...

Bettina, thank you for the tip! This is good to know. You've got me curious about the goji berries though, do you want to plant these for their medicinal value or can you dye with them?

Lynn, seed saving is so much fun, you will love doing it.

Julie, I suspect you are correct about this. I have a bunch of seeds lying about on trays, but I need to find a good place to store them too.

Renee, that's exciting news about your tomatoes! Especially considering the kind of summer you've had there. I hadn't thought about that for pumpkin and squash seeds. I will have to give this a try, just to see.

Charlotte, thanks for this comment! A blogger always hopes the posts are interesting. How far north do you live anyway?

Woolly Bits said...

Leigh - I know that I am bad with the dye plants in my garden, but sometimes I do grow plants, which don't (at least not to my knowledge:)) no, I only wanted to grow them because they're supposedly very healthy and I generally prefer locally grown stuff, that doesn't have to travel the world to reach me (the dried goji berries all seem to come from china!)

Danni said...

Hi Leigh, the method you describe is exactly what I have used to save my heirloom tomato seeds. I posted about it a while back because I found a new all-time favorite tomato that I wanted to make sure I could grow again next year. The "fermenting" aspect is what helps to break down the membrane surrounding the seed. The smell is something else, isn't it? For the tomatoes it's recommended that you don't seal it up while soaking, rather you place a piece of muslin or cheesecloth on top -keeping bugs out but letting beneficial bacteria in. The whole subject just fascinates me. I need to find that book you have! :-)

Leigh said...

Bettina, I hadn't heard of goji berries until you mentioned them. They really sound like something useful to grow.

Farmgirl_dk I had to go find your post as soon as I read your comment! This is really fascinating stuff.

Susan B. said...

My sister became a certified organic grower this year and the process she used to get her tomato heirloom seeds was similar but also involved using sanitized equipment AND rinsing the seeds for 7 minutes under the faucet! I know this because I have watched her do this. Instructions actually had timed events! But she sells these seeds for a price!

Heather said...

I still haven't ever saved cucumber seeds myself (although I save many other veg seeds) but after seeing your photos I'll be sure to do it next year. Don't you just love already having your seeds tucked away for next Spring. Fun.

Laryssa Herbert said...

This is perfect timing! I have 3 mature cukes to get seed from. Thanks!

Leigh said...

Laryssa, you're very welcome! It works for melons and tomatoes too.

Madness, Trouble, Squish and Milkbone said...

This type of fermenting process is commonly used to harvest vegetable seed. Usually one would sterilize afterwards using 10% household bleach, followed by rinsing with water, drying etc. Not sure whether useing household bleach to sterilize is considered organic.

Leigh said...

I didn't know about the bleach. You're probably right though, that this isn't considered "kosher" in organic gardening circles. :) I can see how it would help kill potential mold spores though.