The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

How to save Mexican sour gherkin seeds

Mexican sour gherkinsI'm still on the fence about whether Mexican sour gherkins will be a permanent addition to our garden, but since the seeds are so expensive, I decided to save some just in case.  With no seed saving information on the internet, I merged a tutorial on saving cucumber seeds with my own observations on the natural history of the Mexican sour gherkin to come up with the experimental protocol below.

First, I left some of the earliest fruits on the vine to see what would happen.  When saving cucumber seeds, you're supposed to leave a cucumber on the vine until it Mexican sour gherkin cut in halfturns yellow and is fully matured, but Mexican sour gherkins never seem to turn yellow (although they do take on a yellowish cast.)  Instead, after a while they drop to the ground.  I figured these fallen fruits must be mature, and gathered them for my seed-saving experiment.

Cutting open one of the fallen gherkins, I could see that the seeds now made up nearly the entire interior of the fruit.  I squeezed out the guts of several fruits by poking a finger in each half.  Like tomato seeds, these gherkin seeds were surrounded by a frog-egg-like sack of fluid that must be fermented away before the seeds can be saved.  So I poured some water into the cup with my gherkin guts and left it alone.
Mexican sour gherkin seeds
The internet reports that the sack will have fermented away from cucumber seeds within three days, but my experience has shown that these sacks tend to take about a week to deteriorate in cool weather.  Sure enough, a week later, the water in my cup had become milky and, when swished, I could see bare seeds settled at the bottom.  So I carefully poured off the water, rinsed the seeds in another round of water, then turned them out onto a saucer to dry.

I'm very good at remembering to save seeds, but once they get to the drying stage, they tend to accumulate in jelly jars, cups, pans, saucers, and bowls in a long row along our windowsill.  I finally got around to Drying seeds on the windowsillputting away tomato, cantaloupe, watermelon, garbanzo, drying bean, urd bean, okra, pepper, and poppy seeds while taking photos for this post --- see, a blog is good for something.  Check out last year's lunchtime series for more tips on which seeds are easy to save and how to start your own seed saving campaign.

Our homemade chicken waterer never spills or fills with poop.

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Thanks so much for posting about saving these seeds. I was just thinking I'd buy more so I could grow seedlings for a couple of family members and was reminded how bloody expensive they are!

I'm wondering if you've done germination tests on them to see if your method worked.

Also wondering if there is anything I might be growing in my garden that could possibly cross with the MSGs. I can't find anything else in the Melothria family but M pendula, which seems to be a wild relative. Any info about this?

Thanks again!

Comment by Deb Sat Mar 26 13:32:06 2011

I don't have any data on whether it worked yet, unfortunately. I didn't run a germination test because the seeds look good and I think they probably will sprout. If for some reason they don't come up when I plant them in May, I'll post about it, but I suspect there won't be any problems.

I doubt anything in your garden will cross with them. They're in a different genus from all of the cultivated vegetables, so unless you just happen to have a close weedy relative around, you'll be in good shape.

Comment by anna Sat Mar 26 16:30:26 2011

Just wondering if these did come up? I have seeds for these that were a gift, when I grow them in summer I will want to save the seeds :) Thanks for a great write-up

Comment by Liz Sun May 8 23:27:39 2011
I just went out and checked, and it looks like they germinated extremely well. (In fact, I might have to thin...) They waited until the soil was warmer than the cucumbers needed and only came up sometime in the last few days, even in their quick hoop, but now they look happy and big. So, the verdict is --- this method works great for saving Mexican sour gherkin seeds!
Comment by anna Mon May 9 09:09:31 2011
That's excellent Anna!! I can't wait until it gets warm here :) (It's near the end of Autumn here in Australia lol.. long wait)
Comment by Liz Tue May 10 12:26:58 2011
I didn't realize you were another Australian reader. I don't know whether to be jealous of the produce I'm sure you're rolling in right now, or glad that I've got a long warm season ahead of me!
Comment by anna Tue May 10 13:08:27 2011

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