Cucumber is actually a fruit but just like tomato and many squash it is used as a vegetable in many cuisines across the world. The article will make you know the tips for harvesting, saving and storing the Cucumber Seed. Right from cucumber seed planting to cucumber seed benefits you will find all about growing cucumber from seeds here in this article.
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Cucumber’s botanical name is Cucumis sativus. It is a widely cultivated plant in the gourd family. It grows as a creeping vine that produces cylindrical fruits but they are mostly used as culinary vegetables. There are three main varieties of cucumber: slicing, pickling, and burpless. Within these varieties, there are several different cultivators. The cucumber originated in Southern Asia, but today it is grown in most of the continents. Several different varieties of cucumber are traded worldwide.
Cucumbers are a warm-season plants that can grow in any amount of space. They are creeping vine that roots in the ground and grows up trellises or other supporting objects, wrapping around them with its thin, spiraling tendrils. The growth of these plants is fast, and can produce in abundance if you take proper care of them.
Harvesting Cucumber Seeds
Cucumbers are ready to harvest in approximately 50-70 days. Always keep working away from wet cucumber vines, as they are more susceptible to several diseases that spread when leaves are wet. Cucumbers are over 90 percent water so for best taste they can be picked when they are succulent and green or immature.
If you wish to harvest them for saving seeds then allow them to ripen on the vine itself. Grow cucumber plants in isolation and only one variety, or separate varieties by planting them at least half a mile away to eliminate the possibility of cross pollination.
For the most favorable cucumber seed saving collection, select from plants without any disease, has the most flavorful fruit and has abundant fruits on it. Seeds are to be harvested from matured cucumber fruits. So allow the cucumber to rest on the vine, past its eating stage and harvest near the end of the growing season. Fruits will turn to orange or yellow color when fully ripe and now it is ready to pluck mature seeds from them. If a frost occurs before the cucumber is mature, then pluck the cucumber from the vine and allow it to ripen in a cool dry place.
So as to improve the possibility of doable seeds of the proper inherent composition, it is recommended to collect seeds from at least six different cucumbers from each of the six plants or as per your preference.
Saving Cucumber Seeds
Saving cucumber seeds is not a simple process. Cucumber blossoms are not perfect so they need to be pollinated by insects or by the gardener to set fruit. Further, cucumbers cross pollinates easily with other cucumber varieties so it is recommended to grow cucumber varieties half a mile away from each other to prevent crossing. Also the cucumber plants which you wish to save your seeds from should be planted in an isolated space. However, most of you must have limited space to plant, so read below for the tips on handling isolation and pollination another way.
First step is to plant your cucumber plant in an isolated space from which you plan to save seeds from. Second step is to identify female blossoms; these will look like they have a tiny cucumber at the base. Third step, bag them before they open in spun, polyester or cotton bags to prevent insects from pollinating them. Fourth step is to do the same with a male flower. Lastly, tag the branch that has female blossom so you can identify later that this cucumber seeds are to be saved.
The other option to isolate your cucumbers is to build a cage. Using wood or PVC with spun polyester or screen over to enclose the entire plant or plants to grow in isolation.
Hand-Pollinating Cucumber Flowers
You can’t allow those random bees to pollinate the cucumbers, so you will have to do it on your own. Use a small brush to wipe some of the pollen from a male cucumber flower onto the center of the female flower. Then bag the female blossom again, and wait and watch. Once a fruit forms on that blossom you will know that your hand-pollination is successful. Then you can remove the bag, but ensure to keep a tag or label on that fruit so that later you can save seeds from it.
Also keep in mind that the seeds can transmit some diseases. So ensure that no disease has infected the plant that you are wishing to save your cucumber seed from.
How to Save Cucumber Seeds
Saving your own cucumber seeds offers the benefit of free healthy seeds for next year home garden growing. When growing from cucumber seeds make sure to always select non-hybrid varieties while seed saving. Hybrid seeds will not produce similar original fruits. Hybrids are a cross between two or more cultivars bred, best specific traits are taken from them and so it seeds produces inferior fruit. So seeds are to be saved from home grown non hybrid cucumber plants only.
The Following Things You Will Require To Save Seeds:
2. Glass jar
3. Paper towels or newspaper
4. Airtight containers
Step Wise Instructions for Proper Saving
- Step 1: Select a healthy, non hybrid plant that produces cucumbers as preferred by you. To select plants, you should consider early fruit set, flavor, or abundance of fruit. Even though there is no guarantee that these plant seeds will have similar traits, there are chances of producing cucumbers that exhibit the traits you desire.
- Step2: Select healthy, well-shaped fruits for seed saving and allow them to ripen fully on the vine. Actually the cucumbers at picking or eating stage are immature fruit and they will not produce viable seeds. Ripe cucumbers are fat and yellowed.
- Step 3: Slice the cucumber lengthwise. Scoop the seeds and the gelled material from the center of the sliced fruit and place in a glass jar.
- Step 4: Fill two to three inches of water to cover the material and place it in a warm area. Allow this material to rest for several days. This fermentation process kills viruses and separates the good seeds from the pulp and the bad seeds. As for cucumber seed germination, the good seeds will sink to the bottom while the bad seeds and pulp float at the surface. Seed that floats are bad seeds and are not suitable for saving as they will not germinate. Cucumber seed germination time is within 3 days at a temperature of 80F to 90F. if you are staying at a cooler temperature, it may take 10 days or more.
- Step 5: Pour the water, pulp, and floating seeds from the jar and discard them. Strain the seeds and wash with lukewarm water to remove any leftover residue.
- Step 6: Spread seeds on paper towel, newspaper, or a screen to dry thoroughly.
- Step 7: Store seeds in an airtight container and place it in a cool and dark area.
Allow the seeds to completely dry before storing. Store your seeds in an envelope or a glass jar with a clear label mentioning the date and variety. Put the container in the freezer for about 2 days to kill any residual pests. Then store in a cool, dry place such as the refrigerator. Keep your seeds dry and away from humidity, moisture, and direct sunlight. Seed viability decreases eventually, so ensure to use the seed within the span of next five years.
Many home grown food lovers plant own cucumbers and save the best seeds from them to enjoy the same delicious and juicy taste the coming years. This also helps your next generation to watch and learn this healthy method of harvesting and saving seeds. Many fruits and vegetable seeds can be saved but remains viable for use if proper care is taken while saving and storing. Now that you are aware about cucumber harvesting, saving and storing them, fetch rewards from your own efforts.
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