The Long Island Seed Project
Cucumber Seed Saving
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- Saving Cucumber Seed
<>The pollination of cucumber as well as various other cucubits
such as cantaloupes and watermelons are very similar. Cucurbit plants like cukes are
typically monoecious; that is, they produce separate male and female
flowers but on the same plant (hence one plant= (mono)ecious) The female blossoms have the attached
ovary that will develop into the fruit.
The top row of flowers in the photo above are males, bottom row females.
Note the female flowers two days before bloom and one day before bloom
(showing color). The blossom can be taped shut the evening before
bloom or place a large gelcap over it to prevent insect pollination
then the blossom opens the next morning. Do this for both the
female and the male flower which you have selected to be the pollen
donor. On the morning the blossoms open uncap or open the taped
blossoms and use the male with the pollen bearing stamen at center to
dab pollen on the female stigma located at the center of the
flower. Then seal the female up again to prevent stray pollen
from being brought in by ants, bees and other potential pollinators.
Cucumbers will cross with other cucumbers but not melons. If you
plant more than one kind of cucumber it will cross through insect
pollination with others open at the same time and to same pure seed you
will have to hand pollinate or isolate your plantings in some way.
- The pickling cukes that we grow each year (above) were developed
from a mass cross of half a dozen kinds including hybrids and were not
the work of hand pollinating. Insects worked the flowers of the
different kinds of cukes and I simply selected out the fruit of the
most productive, disease resistant plants with the type of fruit
quality I wanted. After four years of selection, I'm pleased with
the result. Black spined cukes (cucumbers have either tiny white
spines or black spines if you look carefully at their bumps) like the
one developed here at FBF, turn into bloated orange ripe fruit.
- Sometimes I will harvest the fully ripe and gourd-like fruit and
dump them into a crate, leaving them there until I notice some degree
of over-ripening or rot and then I break them open and scoop out the
seed into a container such as the plastic pail here to allow a day or
two for the gel covering each seed to break down if it hasn't already
through the over-ripening process. Then I add a squirt of
dishwashing soap and water and agitate the slurry containing the seeds
with my hands, dump them out in a strainer or over a screen where I
will use a force of water to wash away the slurry and leaving the clean
seed on the screen. Out onto some newspaper they go or leave them
to dry on the screen in a thin layer at normal summer temperatures.
Last Modified: August, 2007