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Experienced

Corn, Cucumber, Muskmelon, Radish, Spinach, Squash/Pumpkin.
The experienced seed saver's vegetables produce seed the season they are planted but require separation to keep unwanted cross-pollination from taking place.

Corn - Zea mays

PLANT: Female corn flowers are pollinated predominately by the wind, rarely by insects. Pollen is light and can be carried great distances. For purity, separate two varieties pollinating at the same time by at least 1 mile. Reasonable results are obtained with separation of 1000 feet.

FLOWER: Corn is monecious, producing separate male and female flowers on each plant. Male flowers appear as tassels on the top of corn stalks and female flowers are pollinated via the silk emerging from each ear.

INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Corn is susceptible to intense inbreeding depres sion. If seed is saved from too few plants, subsequent plants may be short, mature late and produce few ears. Grow at least 200 plants and save the seeds from at least 100 of the best.

SELECTION TRAITS: Although corn genetics have been extensively studied, most meaningful traits are controlled by numerous genes and exact explanations are complicated. The following are general predictions: kernel sweetness:
(su) sweet flavor (wrinkled seed), r
(sh2) shrunken, extreme sweetness (wrinkled seed), r
(se) supersweet, (delays starch formation), r
kernel color: black, D (results in black or blue); c olored, D (over white); white, r. kernel starch : flint, D; sweet corn, r.

HARVEST: Corn seed is usually ready to be harvested 4-6 weeks after eating stage. If growing season is not long enough, pick ears after husks turn brown. Pull back husks and complete drying in cool, dry location.

PROCESS: Process all but very large amounts of seed by gripping dried ears by hand and twisting allowing kernels to fall into container. Any remaining silk and chaff can be winnowed.

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Cucumber - Cucumis sativus

(All cucumbers except Armenian cucumbers)

PLANT: Separate two different cucumber varieties by at least 1/2 mile to ensure purity. Experienced, home, seed savers can grow more than one variety at a time in a single garden by using hand pollinating techniques. (See page 36.)

FLOWER: Cucumbers are mostly monoecious with separate male and female flowers on each plant. Female flowers can be identified by locating the ovary (a small looking cucumber) at the base of the flower. Cucumber vines will produce the greatest amount of female flowers when day length shortens to approximately 11 hours per day. Fruits will be aborted during dry spells and very hot weather.

INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Although inbreeding depression is not usually noticeable in cucumbers, seeds should be saved from at least 6 cucumbers on 6 different plants.

HARVEST: Cucumbers raised for seed cannot be eaten. They should be left to ripen at least 5 weeks after eating stage until they have turned a golden color. First, light frost of the season will blacken vines and make cucumbers easier to find. Undamaged fruits can be stored in cool, dry place for several weeks to finish ripening.

PROCESS: Slice fruit lengthwise and scrape seeds out with spoon. Allow seeds and jelly-like liquid to sit in jar at room temperature for 3 or 4 days. Fungus will start to form on top. Stir daily. Jelly will dissolve and good seeds will sink to bottom while remaining debris and immature seeds can be rinsed away. Spread seeds on a paper towel or screen until dry. (See instructions for tomato.)

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Muskmelon - Cucumis melo

Divided below into seven separate groups because of similar features. All C. melos varieties in all groups will cross with each other. They will not cross with watermelons which are Citrullus vulgaris.
Indorus: honeydew, crenshaw, casaba
Conomon: Asian, pickling melons
Dundaim: pocket melon
Cantalupensis: true cantelopes (without netted skin)
Flexuosus: Armenian cucumbers
Reticulatus: Persian melons, muskmelons with netted skin and orange flesh
Chito: orange melon, garden lemon melon

PLANT: Separate two different muskmelons by at least 1/2 mile to ensure purity. Experienced, home, seed savers grow more than one variety at a time in a single garden by using hand pollinating techniques. (See page 36.) Muskmelon flowers are small and relatively difficult to hand pollinate.

FLOWER: Muskmelons are mostly monoecious with separate male and female flowers on each plant. (Some female flowers have stamens.) Female flowers can be identified by locating the ovary (a small looking melon) at the base of the flower. The early flowers are the most likely to be successfully pollinated and eventually produce seeds.

INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Not usually a problem with muskmelons.

HARVEST: Muskmelon seed is mature and can be harvested from ripe and ready to eat muskmelons.

PROCESS: Simply rinse seeds clean, dry with towel and spread on board or cookie sheet to complete drying.

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Radish - Raphanus sativus

PLANT: Separate different varieties being grown for seed at the same time by at least 1/2 mile to ensure purity. Satisfactory results for home gardeners require no more that 250 feet of separation. As radishes cannot self-pollinate, pollen must be carried by insects from plant to plant. Seed to seed: Mulch in the fall to insure winter survival. The following spring, thin to 9" spacing, leaving those roots that showed no sign of bolting. Root to seed: Harvest roots in fall. Select desirable roots and trim tops to within an inch of the roots leaving small, new leaves. Store at 40° F. in humid location. Replant in early spring at 9" intervals and cover with 1" of soil. Note: Garden varieties of radish will cross with all wild varieties.

FLOWER: Radishes produce annual flowers which require pollination by insects, primarily bees.

HARVEST: Harvest 3' tall stalks containing seeds pods when pods have dried brown. Pull entire plant and hang in cool, dry place if all pods are not dried at the end of the growing season.

PROCESS: Open pods by hand for small amounts of seed. Pods that do not open when rubbed between hands can be pounded with hammer or mallet. Winnow to remove remaining chaff.

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Spinach - Spinacia oleracae

PLANT: It is probably best to grow seeds for only one variety of spinach at a time. Commercial seed crops are separated 5 miles or more. Plant early in the spring to allow enough time for seed production which can take 4-6 weeks more than the time required to reach eating stage. Remove plants which bolt first, and thin remaining plants to 8" for seed production. Leave one male plant for each two females to ensure pollination.

FLOWER: Spinach is "dioecious", with male and female flowers on separate plants. Flowers are wind pollinated by spinach's dust-like, powdery pollen which can be carried for miles.

SELECTION TRAITS: Seed shape: prickly, s mooth. Leaf texture: flat, wrinkled.

HARVEST: Some outside leaves can be harvested for eating without harming seed production. If possible, wait until all plants have dried brown. Pull entire plant and hang in cool, dry place if necessary at the end of the growing season.

PROCESS: Strip seeds in upward motion and let them fall into container. Chaff can be winnowed. Use gloves for prickly-seeded types.

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Squash/Pumpkin -

Cucurbita maxima varieties with large, hairy leaves, long vines and soft, hairy stems and include: banana squashes, buttercups, hubbards and marrows

Cucurbita mixta varieties with large, hairy leaves, long vines and hard, hairy stems and include the cushaws

Cucurbita moschata varieties similar to C. mixta with flaring stems at the fruit and large, green sepals surrounding the flowers and include: butternuts

Cucurbita pepo varieties with prickly stems and leaves with a hard, five-angled stem and include: acorn squashes, cocozelles, pumpkins, crooknecks, scallops, spaghetti squashes and zucchinis

PLANT: Squashes from different species (see above) can be grown next to each other. Separate different squash varieties in the same species by at least 1/2 mile to ensure purity. (Some crossing between C. mixta and C. moschata has been reported recently. We know of none from our own experience and have concluded that this is a rare event.) Experienced, home, seed savers grow more than one variety in a single garden by using hand pollinating techniques. Squash flowers are large and relatively easy to hand pollinate.

FLOWER: Squashes are monoecious with male flowers and female flowers on each plant. Female flowers can be identified by locating the ovary (a small looking squash) at the base of the flower. (Some female flowers have stamens.)

INBREEDING DEPRESSION: Not usually noticed in squash and pumpkins.

HARVEST: Squash must be fully mature before harvested for seed production. This means that summer squashes must be left on the vine until outer shell hardens. Allow to cure 3-4 additional weeks after harvest to encourage further seed ripening.

PROCESS: Chop open hard-shelled fruits and scoop out seeds. Rinse clean in wire strainer with warm, running water. Dry with towel and spread on board or cookie sheet to complete drying.

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