i did a quick search only to find out i’ve posted extremely little about saving seeds. this is surprising given my love of saving seeds and how important saving our own seeds is in my opinion.
it’s a little late in the season to post this, most in the northern hemisphere are busy putting the garden to bed for the year – perhaps getting the last of the crops dug and the garlic in the ground. by now if you have not made plans to save seeds it is too late – but not too late to plan for next year. i’m posting now cause if i don’t know who know when it get up? i’ll try and remind you of it next year.
this year was the first year in many years that we have tried growing cantaloupes. s is a great lover of cantaloupes and early in our relationship, 10 years ago in our first garden together she wanted to grow cantaloupes, but we put them in too shady of a place and they ended up all getting mildew and rotting. we haven’t tried again since.
the new house is so much sunnier, it seemed if any time was the time to try cantaloupes again, this was the time, and so we did. we had a great year, we planted three plants and got at least 18 little cantaloupes. they were just the right size for two people to split. being so happy with the little cantaloupes, i decided to save some seed from them.
saving seed is actually a lot easier than you would think, especially if you are not growing lots of varieties of the same crop, as the biggest concern is crossing. we only had the one cantaloupe variety, so concerns over crossing was very limited. if you plan to grow several varieties, precautions must be taken.
i selected a few nice specimens, allowed them to age, and then sliced them open. in most cases when saving seeds you want your fruits to be riper than you would want them to be for eating – this has the most unfortunate result of making it so you can’t eat the fruit unless you like it really mushy. my solution: put it in the freezer, add to smoothies and no one will be the wiser.
with yr mushy cantaloupe cut open, scoop out the seeds and pulp into a container large enough to hold all the seeds and pulp. cover with water, put some plastic film wrap on, and date and label what it is. if you are saving lots of seeds at a time, you can easily forget what is in each container – best to label it.
leave the the seeds, pulp and water to ferment for a few days. the idea of the fermentation is to replicate the natural rotting process that would happen if the fruits were allowed to remain on the ground, or the act of going though an animal’s digestive tract. it actually enhances germination rates. it also help to control some seed born diseases and make the seeds easier to separate from the pulp. after a few days the top should be covered with a nice film of mold. remove the layer of mold – you will likely get some seeds in the process – this is ok, they are likely low quality seeds. you can skim each day if you like, but i usually forget – after two to three days, you should be ready for the next step.
with the top skimmed, dump into a sieve, and rinse off. use warm water and slowly work the pulp off. i also take this time to pick out any additional bad looking seeds – they are usually lighter in color, and smaller.
with the seeds all clean it’s time to dry them out. i lay them out on a plate of some sort, aluminum plates are my favorite as they are flexible and make it easy to pop the seeds off. you don’t want to put them on something absorbent as they will just end up sticking and that’s gonna frustrate you. make sure you transfer your tag of what variety is being saved and date. make to stir them often in the first few days while they are drying, to keep them from sticking to each other and speed drying. if you happen to have any mice problems you should make sure to take care of them before laying the seeds out, as they are a favorite of mice. check for dryness by seeing if the seeds are brittle and crack easily using your thumbnail on your index finger. when they are dry put them in an envelope – and label variety and date. i like to them put them in a glass jar for extra protection against critters and moisture. they will keep for about 3 years in a cool dark place at least 10 years in the freezer.
what seeds are you saving? what are your challenges in saving seeds?