Last Updated on June 13, 2022 by Gary Stephen
How to get your first batch of cucumber seeds (and how to plant and harvest them after)? And how to save these cucumber seeds if you don’t use it all?
The tradition of saving seeds for your garden is as old as we are. Growing plants from our veggies is a sure-fire way to ensure we have food for endless years to come, and you can start anytime you want!
Cucumbers, in particular, are an excellent addition to your garden. They can be used in salads in some cooking and make for a cool treat if you’re in the mood for a cucumber smoothie.
So to grow some in your backyard is a boon, no matter how you look at it.
But there are some things to keep in mind. Although it’s not rocket science, cucumbers, like most plants, demand that certain elements be perfect before they are willing to grow. And it all starts with the seeds. So, you should prepare to save these cucumber seeds from now!
Selecting the cucumbers so you can save the seeds for later
Before you head off to buy your cucumbers, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Specifically which cucumbers will work and which won’t. Generally, you can grow three species of cucumbers: Armenian cukes, West Indian gherkins, and serpent gourds; they are the best species to try and out and will grow quite nicely in your garden. Keep away from anything that says ‘hybrid.’ The chances are good you won’t get what you have in mind, or worse still, the seeds will be sterile – hybrids are only grown in controlled plantations. Instead, pick a pure plant to get started in your veggies.
Also, when selecting your cucumbers, try and choose only one species at a time. An interesting problem cucumbers face is cross-pollination, which results in malformed or strange cucumbers growing in your back garden – which might leave the new seeds useless. You need a space of around 850 feet between crops to ensure no cross-pollination occurs. As you can imagine, not many people have that type of space in their suburban backyard. So, pick one and stick to it to avoid any pollination problems.
The perfect cucumber to harvest for seeds will be turning yellow or orange to be quite ripe. When your cucumber looks close to being rotten, the seeds are ready to be harvested and used in your garden!
You might be started a vegetable garden and we have you covered!
Harvesting your first batch of Cucumber seeds
Now that you have selected your perfect cucumbers and you’re raring to get going, you can now finally pick out the seeds.
Just follow these simple steps and try not to damage the seeds as you go. The more you have for a first batch, the better. As some of these seeds will be duds anyway.
What you will need to save your cucumber seeds
- Salad board
- Butter knife/Spoon
- Bucket of warm water
- A freezer
- Overripe cucumber
- Paper towels
- Envelope or plastic container
Getting at the seeds
- On the salad board, break open the soft cucumber with your hand. If it is turning yellow or orange, it should be soft enough to open easily.
- With a spoon or blunt knife, scrape out all of the seeds. Use a butter knife or perhaps a plastic utensil to prevent damage to the seeds.
- Once you have the inside of the cucumber, remove the seeds and drop them into the small bucket of water (gel and all). This will clean the seeds and kill any germs possibly fermenting.
- Leave the seeds in the bucket for at least three days. This will help in killing the rest of the germs.
- The seeds floating at the top, remove them along with the gel, which might still be there.
- Once all the gel and dead seeds have been removed, take out the remaining seeds and place them on a dry paper towel. Dry them well.
- Once dried, move them into an envelope or perhaps a plastic container (noting the date)
- Put them into the freezer for two days to kill any other pests.
- After two days, remove the seeds, and they are ready for the garden!
If you want to store them, you will need airtight bags.
Sometimes we don’t want to use the seeds immediately and want to use them later in the year. So instead, put your seeds, after the freeze, into airtight containers or plastic bags and put them in a cool, dry place. Seeds stored like this can last very long, sometimes up to 10 years, if the seals are good! The average lifespan for a cucumber seed is around 5 years.
Planting Cucumbers after Harvesting and Saving these Seeds
Now that you have the seeds read, you probably want to go ahead and get them in the soil.
- Make sure the temperature of the soil is at least 60 degrees.
- Use dark or black soil to ensure more heat.
- Plant at least two weeks after the last frost.
- Make sure the soil is wet.
- When you put them in the soil, push them in around 2-3 inches.
- Space them at least 3-4 feet away from each other.
Harvest time is anywhere between 55 – 70 days. They are usually ready when they are between 4-8 inches long and are a nice green color. Be sure not to leave them too long. Otherwise, they will have a slightly bitter taste.
Overall, planting cucumbers is pretty easy, and they don’t demand too much attention. Just make sure they get enough water, the soil is nice and warm, the weather won’t suddenly freeze, and you give them enough feed in the ground. Using plastic mulch at the bottom of the bedding can significantly benefit the cucumber in growing much more seriously. It sure loves its heat!
Some cucumbers will grow on vines; consider perhaps, using a trellis or fence to help the cucumber grow upwards. Species that are perfect for this are the tasty green and sweet success. Researchers have proven that increasing a cucumber on a vine brings out a greater harvest because the plant’s vines are breathing better. You’ll also get bigger cucumbers. So, it’s a win-win.
Your quick checklist
So, now that you know what to do, here is your quick checklist to go through when you want to get your cucumbers planted:
- Is the weather suitable for planting? If it’s too cold, rather wait a bit before harvesting the seeds, remember the soil needs to be at least 60 degrees.
- Is the garden prepped? Make sure the soil is correct, and you have added some plastic mulch at the bottom. If you’re using fencing for the vines to crawl on, double-check that they are stable.
- Put them at least 3 inches deep.
- Plant them 3 feet apart.
- If you have two different species, plant them at least 800 feet apart.
- Keep the soil wet
Harvest them around 55 – 70 days once they are ready.
Can I use the same method to save cucumber seeds for other seeds?
Pretty much! Tomatoes, peas, beans, and peppers are the best veggies you can try and plant. Carrots and beets are more difficult as, unlike the above-mentioned, they don’t flower and will need two full seasons before they can be produced again.
You can pretty much use the same method and all of the seeds you can easily store for next season. Just be sure to use those airtight bags. Otherwise, you’ll lose the whole stock of seeds! What is interesting with bell peppers is some people plant the soil inside the bell pepper where the seeds are, this can easily be used as a quick way to grow your bell peppers safely, and it works so well!.
What is impressive is some of these seeds have been passed down from generation to generation. Some of these plants can be traced back hundreds of years! So when you start your garden patch, you can easily gift it to your children and have them continue the tradition of growing their veggies in the garden, from the veggies you planted years ago.
Conclusion about how to save cucumber seeds
Getting seeds from a cucumber is not exactly hard, but some preparation is required to ensure you can use them once they are out of the cucumber. You only have a small window to plant the seeds, so before you even think about getting the cucumber’s go through your quick checklist to make sure you’re ready. They don’t require much work once they are in the soil, but keep an eye in any case and be sure to keep them nice and wet throughout their growth.