Saving seeds - cucumber...

26 May, 2013

This year I'm trying to save more seed. I've saved seed from beetroot, beans, pumpkins and carrots, but this year I'm trying something different with cucumber.

As I've not tried this before, I turned to the great seed saving book 'Seed to Seed' by Suzanne Ashworth.

"All cucumbers, Cucumis sativus, will cross with one another."

Damn. Did this mean that attempting seed saving would be a futile effort, with no chance of being able to keep growing a good performing cucumber?

Thankfully, in the next paragraph there was better news.

"The success rate for hand pollination is around 85%. Slightly higher rates are possible if two or more male flowers are used to pollinate each female blossom."

Excellent. So earlier in the year I picked my best performing cucumber and prepared to hand pollinate my designated seed saving cucumber.

The most prolific cucumber was this Double Yeild so that is the one I have chosen to trial seed saving with.  I diligently hand pollinated with more than two male flowers from the same plant, hoping these strongly producing genes will be passed on.

Feeling fairly confident I had a good start, I went back to the book to see what was next.

"Cucumbers that are being saved for seed must be grown to full maturity and allowed to ripen past the edible stage. The fruits will be large and beginning to soften. Depending on the variety, the fruits will change from green to white or deep yellow or orange."

Suzanne was spot on.

To illustrate, when picked at eating size these cukes looks like this:

Today, I picked my cucumber, as it was both large and beginning to soften (tick) and was a greeny-yellowy colour (tick).

This is the inside, which was very spongy and fleshy and not at all tasty. I tried it. Not nice.

From here, I have gone my own way with my seed saving method. It has worked for pumpkins so I'm hopeful it will work for cucumbers.

I scooped out the seed, leaving the fleshy bits for the compost.

This leaves lots of chunky bits and a gelatinous coating around the seeds.

Now while Suzanne advocates leaving the seeds in a bowl of water and letting them ferment, after which apparently the seeds sink to the bottom and the seed coating floats, then you wash the seeds and dry.

I didn't want gunky fermenting seeds sitting in my kitchen, so I have given them a good rinse in a sieve, which has removed a fair bit of the gelatinous gunky bits.

I then spread the seeds out on some kitchen paper to dry. I will let these dry very, very well (I once did this with melon seeds and didn't dry them enough and they went mouldy).

When absolutely dry these will join the other seeds in the seed box, waiting to be sown for next summer season. Which right now seems so far away. 


  1. I love the idea of saving seeds. True self-sufficiency!

  2. I was going to post on this topic too but now I don't have to bother I can link to yours. I didn't realise cucumbers crossed so easily but then I knew pumpkins did so I shouldn't be surprised. I wonder what my saved seed will turn into....

    1. No, post away! I too will be hoping my saved seed works out - it's such a leap of faith really.

  3. I've had a couple of mouldy incidents with the seed I save from the heritage pumpkins I grow. I was thinking of giving the fermenting in water trick a go this year. I also find it helps if the fruit are as ripe as they can possibly be, even to the point where the flesh is starting to turn to stinky squish - it means the seeds are fully mature.

    1. Ah, so it's not just me. My cucumber wasn't stinky ripe, but I'm hoping they'll be ok anyway.