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Fermenting seeds? I want to save watermelon/cucumber seeds..

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  • Fermenting seeds? I want to save watermelon/cucumber seeds..

    I have had heirloom cucumbers come back before ( I had some cucumbers that got frost bit, and I left them rotting in the garden, and I had volunteers the next year..they must have fermented a lot, this way). I have never had heirloom watermelon (until this year) before.

    What we used to do years ago, was just save seeds, (when we would eat the veggies... ) and they would come back (most of them), the following year, if we dried them out a few days, then put them in a dark envelope/cool-dry spot over Winter.

    Does fermenting help? If so...what does it do?

  • #2

    Seed contained in fleshy fruits should be cleaned using the wet method. Tomatoes, melons, squash, cucumber and roses are prepared this way. Scoop the seed masses out of the fruit or lightly crush fruits. Put the seed mass and a small amount of warm water in a bucket or jar. Let the mix ferment for two to four days. Stir daily. The fermentation process kills viruses and separates the good seed from the bad seed and fruit pulp. After two to four days, the good viable seeds will sink to the bottom of the container while the pulp and bad seed float. Pour off the pulp, water, bad seed and mold. Spread the good seed on a screen or paper towel to dry.
    So, this is why you ferment some seeds? Now I understand.
    Before, like I stated in my first post... I just left some cukes that were rotting (end of season), rot on the vines...and left them over Winter, and some came back the next Spring.
    Did not know about this warm water/pulp/seeds, etc... now that I do, when it's close to end of season, may have to try this method, and see what happens next Spring.


    • #3
      I've used the fermentation method for some "wet" seeds - tomatoes, cucumbers, West India gherkins, Mexican sour gherkins. Other fruits (such as eggplant, ground cherry, litchi tomato) are best left to ripen until nearly rotten, then separated from the pulp in a blender pulsed at low speed (I ground the blades dull on a used blender).

      Personally, I'm apprehensive about adding water to the seeds prior to fermentation; I've had a couple incidents of sprouting with that method, once with tomatoes, once with cukes. To the greatest degree possible, I try to use only the juice & pulp that went with the seeds. If more liquid is necessary, I might strain some juice from another juicier variety (as with tomatoes) and add that to the seeds.

      For squashes & melons, I've never used fermentation... nor does any seed saver that I know. I'd have to get more details about how to do so successfully. Does anyone know if Glen or SSE uses this method on their squashes & melons? If so, it would be a great "how to" to post here, and/or include in a future SSE publication.


      • #4
        I don't add water to stuff like tomatoes and cukes either.

        Have never fermented squashes or cukes, and got into a very heated discussion several years ago on another site, when someone insisted that pepper seeds had to be fermented. I wasn't arguing that you couldn't or shouldn't, but that it just wasn't entirely necessary if you felt so inclined.


        • #5
          Thanks for the replies, folks.


          • #6
            I always fermented melon seeds (crenshaws, cantaloupes, casaba etc).

            Fermentation helps remove inhibitory chemicals surrounding the seed of some fruits and it also helps reduce any disease organisms which might be present on the surface of the seed.

            One doesn't HAVE to do it.


            • #7
              I ferment tomato seeds, but ONLY tomato. I have never fermented melon or cuke seeds, nor do I see any good reason too. They grow just fine without it, and frankly, it's a rather disgusting procedure.