Saving Melon Seeds

Luckily, melons are pretty easy to save pure seeds from so you can grow your varieties next year. The male and female flowers are easy to tell apart and it is easy to transfer pollen to the female flowers.

To pollinate your melons you must transfer the yellow pollen from the male flower to the female flower. The female flower is easy to recognise because it has a 'bulb' under the actual flower that will become the melon if the pollination is successful.

You will need to hand pollinate at least 10 flowers (from more than one plant if you have more) to end up with about 2 successfully set fruit.


Fertilising your flowers:


First Step: So the right pollen is transferred and bees have not brought pollen from a nearby other variety, you must stop any bees from being able to get inside your flowers. You must get to the male and female flowers a day or so before they open and either tape them shut at the end of the petals with sticky tape, or cover the whole flower with a small gauze or organza bag (they are sold in gift shops).

A mistake many people make is to forget to cover the male flowers. Bees can visit other variety flowers and transfer the pollen around so your seeds may not be pure. Even if you are only growing one variety one of your neighbours may have another one.

 Second Step: When the flowers open you should uncover them and use a small paint brush to gather some pollen from the male flower and brush it onto the female flower. You could also just pick the male flower, pull off the petals carefully and brush the anthers onto the female flower. It is best, if you can, to use the pollen from more than one male if you have more flowers open at the same time.

Flowers from small fruited varieties can be very tiny and fiddly.

 Third Step: Reclose or rebag the female flower and wait a few days to see if it has set. Make sure you label the flower so you know which flower was pollinated with pure pollen. 

The next day or two you will find out whether the flower has been sucessfully pollinated. It it was successful the fruit will start to grow strongly toward the ground. If it is unsuccessful the fruit will turn yellow.


Saving the seeds from your ripe fruit

Choose the best melon from the best plant that you want to keep seeds from. Depending on what you want, you might prefer to keep the fruit from the smallest, or most vigorous plant, or the largest or most colourful fruit. Choose the fruit according to the type you want.

Your fruit must be fully ripe, even over-ripe. Cut it open and scoop out all the seeds into a bowl. I like to then put the seeds and pulp into a collander and run water over them to start the cleaning. Squeeze a few seeds between your fingers to make sure they are not empty duds. They should feel hard and full.

When the seeds have no goo left on them I place them on absorbant paper on a paper plate. Tag them and place them in a warm, dry place to dry out for a couple of weeks. They must be dry enough to snap in half when bent before they are bagged.

The seeds should now be placed in a cool, dry place for storage. Some people freeze them but I haven't tried that. You don't have to freeze them if they are to be planted within 3 years.