Saving Melon Seed = Delicious
Every year our friends come out of the woodwork to help us save melon seed! This year we grew the Blacktail Mountain Watermelom, an early season melon, in the lower garden along with the Bidwell Casaba, an heirloom bred by John Bidwell of Chico, CA in the 1800s. The Bidwell has been a favorite for several years now! In our upper gardens, we grew Blenheim Muskmelon, another farm favorite for sweetness and an English heirloom and Crimson Sweet Watermelon.
Here is the quick low down on melon seed saving: Watermelons: Citrullus lanatus, Outbreeder, Isolation 1/4 mile minimum from other watermelon varieties, Population minimum 20, harvest when ready to eat. Fermenting seed for a day will help separate seed from flesh. We cut out and eat the flesh and leave the seed to soak for a day before water processing.
Melons: Cucumis melo, Outbreeder, Isolation 1/4 mile minimum from other melon varieties-beware, Armenian cucumber is also a Cucumis melo, Population minimum 20-100, harvest when ready to eat. Fermenting seed for a day will help separate seed from flesh. We cut out and eat the flesh and leave the seed to soak for a day before water processing.
Melons are outbreeders, meaning they need insects to help with pollination since they have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. The insects, mostly bees, pollinate by moving pollen from male to female flowers. Because of this, you need to isolate different types of melons by about 1/4 mile minimum. If you have multiple varieties in your garden it is possible to hand pollinate and save pure seed. That is a whole other topic though...so google it!
To process seed, let it ferment for a day or so. This will help separate seeds from flesh. The good seeds will sink and you can pour off the gunk on top. Do this several times until you are left with just seed. Spread on a screen to dry. Of course, if you are just doing a few melons as you eat them you can do this process in the kitchen sink and dry seed on a plate on the counter top.