Can I Still save seeds from unripe melons?

docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)August 23, 2004

This is my first year growing melons. I have Schoon's Hard Shell, Honey Rock and Blacktail Mountain watermelons. I had great results with healthy plants and plenty of great-looking melons. Unfortunately, we had a very cool, rainy summer, and now the plants have developed some fungus that has devestated the leaves. There was an article in the paper that said this is a wide-spread problem and that once the fungus takes hold, the fruits and vegetables stop ripening. So, I have 80-90% ripe melons. They're no good to eat, but can I still save the seeds from at least the watermelons? When I cut one open, the seeds are begining to darken, some about 50-75%. Will these germinate? I'm a member of the Seed Savers Exchange and I don't want to send poor quality seeds to anyone who might request them. But if they're good seeds, I'd hate to waste them and all of my work.

Let me know what you think. Thanks

Martha

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Martha,

You/ve posted this same questions elsewhere and I've already answered you once, but I'll be darned if I remember where it was that I answsered it. LOL

My major question, before answering your questions, was to ask you if you hand pollinated the blossoms.

If you didn't the seeds will not be true since melons are insect pollinated.

The only reason I ask is b/c you didn't mention it, and if you did do the hand pollinations, please excuse me for bringing it up.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   August 23, 2004 at 7:10PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Carolyn, I apologize for any extra time you may have spent answering my question. I only posted this question once, that I know of, and I checked several forums' FAQ before I did. Anyway, my melons were not hand pollinated, but I did a pretty thorough check of my neighborhood, where barely anyone gardens, and certainly no one else is growing melons. Amy Goldman's book said 1/2 mile should be safe. So, I'm confident there wasn't cross pollination.
My only concern is whether the seeds are mature enough to germinate if planted later.
Thanks for your reply.
Martha

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 9:02AM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

Anyway, my melons were not hand pollinated, but I did a pretty thorough check of my neighborhood, where barely anyone gardens, and certainly no one else is growing melons. Amy Goldman's book said 1/2 mile should be safe. So, I'm confident there wasn't cross pollination.

Martha,

To quote from Suzanne Ashworth's Seed Saving book;

"Any two or more varieties within the same species must be prevented from crossing in order to save pure seed"

Your Blacktail will be OK, but both Schoon's Hard Shell and Honey Rock are in the same species, C. melo, so they will cross.

I think what Amy might have been referring to was a 1/2 mile isolation distance between varieties within the same species if hand poillination is not done, and Ashworth quotes the same distance.

So if you are growing all three at your home then Blacktail is probably OK if no other watermelons, C. citrullus, are within about 1/2 mile.

But the two others would have crossed unless they were separated by a 1/2 mile distance.

As for seed maturity and viability , Ashworth says seeds are not mature until the melons are ripe to eat.

Although I used to grow a lot of melons I never wanted to do the hand pollinations to get pure seed. For many years I also offered peppers at SSE but bagging blossoms was also not my thing and x pollination can be upwards of 70% without caging or bagging.

So I stick with tomato offerings at SSE. Due to physical disabilities I'm down from 200-250 varieties/year to about a dozen, but self pollenization is the rule for tomatoes and it occurs about 95% of the time.

Hand pollinating melons and squash and cukes was just too much work for me.

Even Amy, who is a long time close friend and you'll see my name on her thanks page as she is on my thanks page for my heirloom tomato book, seldom hand pollinates her melons unless it's a very rare variety, and as you know, offers very few as listed at SSE.

Actually she sent up a nice basket of melons just last week. Lovely. And as I eat them I'm not saving the seeds b/c I know darn well she probably didn't hand pollinate them. She's too busy finishing up her book on squash.

Hope that helps.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 4:22PM
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docmom_gw Zone 5 MI(5)

Thank-you again, Carolyn. I hadn't planned on saving seeds from the Schoon's or Honey Rock. You answered my question about seed ripeness/maturity with your reference to Suzanne Ashworth's book. I guess I'll dump the seeds I have so far and hope we get a little bit more hot weather so the watermelons ripen. The past two weeks we've had night temperatures in the mid-50's. Now we have thunderstorms predicted for the next week. I'm sure glad I grow food as a hobby and not for a living!
Martha

    Bookmark   August 24, 2004 at 6:39PM
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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

I hadn't planned on saving seeds from the Schoon's or Honey Rock.

I'm sorry, I misunderstood and so would not have written what I did.

You started out by talking about all three and thruout the post talked mainly about your concern about seed maturity and then said could you use seed from "at least" the watermelons.

So my concern was more cross pollination than seed maturity at that point.

Carolyn

    Bookmark   August 25, 2004 at 10:32AM
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