Amy Goldman’s kitchen is overflowing with drying gourds and melons: every imaginable shape and size, from Africa, Brazil, China and Russia. The shapes and colors rival those of birds, fish, and butterflies–all the various glories of flora and fauna found in nature–and those found in art, such as with Brancusi or Henry Moore sculptures.
What may be less obvious is that these melons were grown with heirloom seeds, genetically diverse jewels that have been passed on from generation to generation. Industrialized farming techniques have all but wiped out these seeds.
Amy has taken a moment in time before extinction and gathered virtually every melon and gourd known to the world, and is harvesting them on her land, passionately learning how to save their seeds without rot, turning her garage and outbuildings into drying racks, experimenting with hundreds of varieties. Taking this moment in history, she is preserving the genetic diversity of these plants that without her help would be lost forever.
“Melons For the Passionate Grower,” by Amy Goldman, offers a bounty of authoritative practical advice on growing, pollinating, picking, and preparing melons. The melon lore alone is fascinating, and the photos of the varieties are a gallery in themselves and dazzling. “Melons” even clears up once and for all the mystery of how to choose a melon that is perfectly ripe. May your melon patch never be the same! Click here for some of Amy’s seed saving tips and how to grow melons that “smell or taste like pineapple, mango, peach and perfume!”
SEED SAVING TIPS
Adapted (in abbreviated form) from “MELONS For the Passionate Grower,” by Amy Goldman.
* In order to save pure seed you must prevent bees from leaving traces of pollen on the plant from other varieties. The easiest way to do this is to limit yourself to growing one melon and one watermelon that you value and know to be heirlooms rather than hybrids. Make sure no neighbor is growing melons within ½ mile of your garden. (Hand pollination is another option, and detailed directions are offered in “Melons.”
* There’s no need to sacrifice the fruit for the seed. When you’re ready to eat the melons, cut them open and retrieve the seeds at that time.
* Rinse seeds gently in a colander, blot extra moisture from the seeds with a paper towel, and turn the seeds out onto sturdy, absorbent paper plates.
* Dry the seeds at room temperature for a week or two, occasionally turning them over on the paper plate, until they can be cracked or easily broken in two.
* Store in airtight containers, in a cool, dark, dry place such as a refrigerator or freezer.