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Saving Cucurbit Seeds

Drying watermelon seeds on a saucer.Okay, now that you've planned your cucurbit garden with seed-saving in mind, how do you actually save the seeds?  With melons and winter squashes, all you do is wait until your fruits are mature, scoop out the seeds, rinse them, and dry them.  You don't even have to waste the flesh since it's at just the right stage to go on your plate!

With summer squashes, just leave a few fruits on the vine the way you do with pea pods.  Surely at least one zucchini will miss the knife and get too big to be tasty.  Wait until the summer squash has developed a hard rind, like a winter squash, then cut it open and harvest the seeds.  Again, rinse and dry the seeds before storing them.

Cucumbers are the only relatively difficult cucurbit seed to save.  Like summer squashes, they need to be allowed to mature on the vine beyond the point at which you would usually pick them.  Then the seeds and surrounding liquid should be scraped out of the flesh and allowed to ferment in a jar for three or four days.  Stir the mess every day, and when the seeds sink to the bottom, pour off the goop, rinse the seeds, and save them.  The fermentation is necessary in order to break down a covering over the seeds that inhibits germination.

This post is part of our Seed Saving lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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