Ann writes in to Ask Gardenerd this week: “Hi! Just came upon your site and LOVE it! A friend who lives up north from us just shared lemon cucumbers with us. We have never had them before and find them pretty neat. I haven’t even tasted them yet. They told us how they save the seeds year to year for planting. Do you have any insight on saving the seeds? Would truly appreciate it. Lemon Cucumbers will definitely be part of our garden next year. TIA”
I’m so glad your friends introduced you to Lemon Cucumbers. They are one of my favorite cucumbers to grow. You’ll find that they taste exactly like a cucumber should, just in a cute yellow package.
How to Save Cucumber Seeds?
Seed saving is a HUGE subject, and the instructions for saving seeds from one species may differ from another. Some seeds are easier to save than others. For example: arugula, cilantro, and lettuce seeds are easy to save because you just let the plant form flowers and go to seed, wait until the seed heads dry, and then harvest the seeds. Cucumbers, on the other hand, require a little more knowledge. Let’s take a look at that.
Cucumbers are eaten at an immature stage, meaning you eat the fruit when the fruit is ripe, but the seeds inside aren’t yet ripe. The seeds are immature. In order to harvest the seeds from cucumbers, you need to leave them on the vine until the fruit is past maturity (i.e. yellow or white, and soft).
Many people mark the the skins of the fruits they plan to grow to seed maturity with a Sharpie so they don’t inadvertently pick the fruit. So now would be a good time to ask your friends to leave a few fruits on the vine to save for seeds. If it’s too late and they’ve all been picked, you can still get seeds from numerous seed suppliers, including High Mowing Seeds. Then grow your own to save seeds next year.
After the fruit reaches seed maturity, you process them the same way you would tomato seeds: scoop them out into a jar, rinse to get rid of the pulp, add a little water and let them ferment on the counter for a few days. Skim off the muck on top (and any floating seeds), then rinse and dry for storage.
We like to reference our favorite sites for expert advice on seed saving, and there’s no better place than Seed Savers Exchange. Here’s their page on saving cucumber seeds.
Thanks for writing in to Ask Gardenerd, Ann. We hope this helps you along your journey.
This Post Has 4 Comments
I have tried to dry lemon cukes & regular cuke seeds & they completely dry out. I’ve soaked them for 3 days & dry them on a towel but they still dry completely out.
Hi Lian, Let’s review seed saving protocol for cucumbers before going forward. First of all, cucumber seeds should be harvested from fully mature cucumbers, meaning old and yellowed on the vine beyond how you would pick them to eat. If the seeds withered when you dried them straight out of the immature fruit, then they weren’t viable seeds. Viable seeds will dry intact. It sounds like you did the fermentation process properly but if the fruits weren’t fully mature that is probably the issue. I love the seed saving info provided by Seed Savers Exchange. They really know their stuff: https://www.seedsavers.org/grow-cucumber
Thank you for posting this guide. In my opinion, everyone should be trying to save seeds whenever possible. Obviously, doing so saves a lot of money. Additionally, saving seeds help preserve the diversity of plants for future generations.