Monthly Archives: September 2021

How To: Saving Melon Seeds

Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Anyone who gardens knows that obtaining seed stock is currently a hit or miss undertaking. Shortages and shipping delays are disruptive and frustrating. What if you could peruse your late winter seed catalogs and enjoy the anticipation of working in your garden and not have to worry about when or even IF your seeds will arrive? Every vegetable you grow produces seeds–each of which can potentially produce an entire plant full of produce-and more seeds!-generation after generation.

The method I describe here will work for all melons as well as cucumbers. But be sure to start with heirloom (open-pollinated) seeds. If you use hybrid seeds, they will not reproduce true to the parent plant, and any yield realized will be puny and disappointing at best. Also, different types of plants have different procedures for seed harvesting. For example, saving lettuce seeds is quite different than saving tomato seeds. Seed-saving is not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

So you nurtured that beautiful cantaloupe from seed to sprout to flower to fruit and the reward is perfection: Sweet, aromatic, and juicy. Don’t throw those seeds in the compost pile or down the disposal! A few days’ effort will yield seeds for next year which will produce plants with a much better likelihood of passing on the positive genetic qualities that you so enjoy.

The Process
Almost too ripe. Perfect!

This morning, after a few days’ absence, I found two cantaloupes that were an odd yellowish color and were a bit soft. I assumed they were overripe, and hoped that I would be able to salvage at least some of the fruit for us to enjoy. I cut into them with great trepidation. They. Were. Amazing! As I was scooping out the seeds and pulp I decided I should save the seeds for next year. So I took the seeds, pulp and all, out of the strainer (no rinsing), placed them into a Mason jar, and added about 2 cups of warm water.

Now I just let them set on the counter and swirl the concoction once or twice a day. The pulp will begin to ferment and make bubbles. As it ferments, debris and non-viable seeds will float to the top and the viable ones will sink. The fermenting process is very important, as it works to kill off seed-borne diseases, so don’t skip it. Once the components have separated, I pour off the debris water. Then I add some more cold water, swirl, and pour off. I do this several times till I have just the viable seeds in the bottom of the jar. Then I put my seeds into a sieve and rinse very well. Spread out to dry in a single layer: You can use paper towels and sunshine, and it takes a couple of days. I like to dehydrate them at 115 degrees for several hours.

When they are dry and cool, put them into a clean, dry Mason jar. You can add a silica gel pack if you want. Put in a dark place and check it in 24 hours. If you see any moisture at all on the inside of the jar, re-dry your seeds and try again.

Once your seeds are 100% dry, put them into the freezer for about two weeks. Then they get placed in the fridge until you are ready to plant.

Happy Planting!

Natural Perfection

Dewdrops hanging from poke berries

The other morning I took an unplanned walk around the property. Didn’t even take the dogs like I usually do. Just me, and for no reason other than I felt like it. I was so glad I followed that gentle urging. I was richly rewarded with beauty everywhere I looked. Dew turning the most common patches of weeds into shimmering fields of diamonds. Spiderwebs (LOTS of spiderwebs!) looking like lace doilies strung up between branches, sagging under the added weight of the water. Tiny tree frogs and bumblebees.


Each place I walked was unique and contained different beauty. The pond had cattails and frogs and Red Winged Blackbirds. The tree line had pokeweed and elderberries and some stubborn honeysuckle remnants. The pines were quiet and still, with soft pine needles and pinecones covering the path. All different, and all perfect.

I slowly made my way around the property, stopping frequently to appreciate the exquisite perfection that surrounded me. I thought about how each season causes the homestead to “change clothes.” The delicate violets, wild chives, plantain and clover we would add to our spring salads are gone for now, along with the daffodils and tulips. Daylilies, irises, and white elderberry blossoms have given way to purple elderberry umbrellas drooping with fruit and the lavender fireworks of milkweed. And far too soon, they will all sleep for a season, but they will awaken again at their perfect times.

I’m sure many people drive by and see a wild, unkempt, unmanageable yard. And I will admit, things got away from us this summer with COVID and all. We are finally feeling a bit more like ourselves again. It has been a struggle to keep up. Yet I am so thankful that even in the midst this neglected mess of a yard I can choose to find perfection, beauty, and satisfaction.

Selfie in the woods. I had to carry a long stick and wave it in front of me to knock down the spiderwebs in the path–they were everywhere!!