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Harvest melons: Allow melons to harvest fully on the vine and change color. After harvest, allow fruits to ripen for an additional 2-3 weeks in a cool place.
Extract seeds: Cut the fruit lengthwise and scrape seeds into a bowl with a spoon. Add a small amount of water to the bowl. Healthy seeds will sink to the bottom, while bad seeds and pulp will float. Using your fingers, separate seeds from pulp.
Fermentation: Place seeds in a sealed container for 1-2 days. If possible store in a warm place (75-80 degrees F). Stir daily. Good seeds will sink to the bottom.
Dry seeds: Spread good seeds (those that sunk) on a ceramic or glass plate to dry. Place in the shade. This process should take several days.
Label and Store: Properly prepared melon seeds can last up to 5 years.
Sow melon seeds in early summer or late spring. Melons do best in well-drained and nutritious soil. Plant seeds on raised planting hills. Mother Earth News recommends planting 6 seeds per hill and thinning to 3 plants per hill after sprouting. In colder climates, with short growing seasons, melons may be begun inside before being transferred to planting hills.
Melon flowers are insect-pollinated and can be crossed easily within species. Therefore, when planning to save seed, it is important to take measures to preserve seed integrity. We recommend either ensuring at least 1/2 mile between varieites, or using a hand pollination technique to preserve the integrity of your melon seeds. See below for instructions on hand pollination. (Kohala Center)
1) Cap or bag female and male flower buds on the same plant and nearby plants of the same variety.
2) When male flowers bloom, turn over their petals to expose anthers and gently roll the anthers over the stigma of the bloomed female flowers. You should see a layer of pollen on the stigma.
3) Cap or bag female flowers again to keep out insects. Mark female flowers using a piece of string or similar marker.
Sources: Kohala Center - Saving Your Own Vegetable Seed;
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