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

Saving seeds from hybrid cucumbers

Second generation hybrid cucumber

Last summer, I set out to determine what I'd get if I saved seeds from a hybrid cucumber.  Why?  Because Harmonie is the world's most prolific and tasty cucumber and resists whatever blight tends to kill all other varieties on our farm in short order.  But the seeds of the hybrid are expensive, so I didn't want to have to spend $12 on them each year.  Thus the experiment to see what would happen if I saved some seeds.

Healthy cucumber vines

Harmonie cucumberFor those of you new to seed-saving, it's generally a no-no to save seeds from a hybrid variety.  Heirloom vegetable varieties generally breed true (especially if you're careful to isolate them from other varieties in the same species), but hybrids will mate with themselves and still produce many different types of offspring.

However, that's not always the case.  95% of the cucumbers that I grew from my saved seeds turned out to look and act just like their parents.  The plants that looked different were clearly that way because of hybridization with Muncher, an heirloom variety I was also trialing last year (but wasn't as impressed by).  Sounds like, as long as I stick to growing Harmonie cucumbers, I can safely save seeds from this variety despite the fact that it's a hybrid.  Success!

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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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I love to save any seeds, hybrid or not. But I am pretty low maintenance in the vegetable department. I have seldom had a homegrown vegetable I didn't like, nor a variety I clearly liked more than another. So I save seeds or take cuttings from anything I liked, or had markedly higher production. Maybe someday it will all settle down to a garden perfectly tailored to my area.
Comment by Eric in Japan Thu Jul 3 18:31:50 2014
You will have to keep watch on the next generation. It is usually the 2nd generation that tends to revert to an original breed. Keep up the great work! :)
Comment by Rita Marsh Fri Jul 4 16:59:05 2014

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