Friday, August 24, 2012

There's Seed Saving and There's Seed Saving Part तीन [teen]

It occurs to me that in my previous posts on seed saving (to be found here, and here) I was over-simplifying a bit.  When one is dealing with tomatoes, peppers and eggplants, what I wrote is right on target.  You see, all of these plants self-pollinate, so it is very common to be able to save their seeds without doing anything other than picking their fruits and following the simple steps I have outlined already.  So you can consider these plants to be the primary school of seed saving!

Now we can move on to middle school!

The middle school plants are the non-self-pollinating annuals.  Squashes, cucumbers, and melons are the most popular of this group.  If you are like me you plant many varieties of each of these types of plants.  They spread all over the place in my garden and it is often difficult to tell which vine goes with which plant!  It looks absolutely fantastic, but can be a real nightmare for saving seed.  You see, if you want true seed from any of these, the female flower buds (which can be easily recognized because the base of the flower looks like a miniature of the fruit you expect to get)

must be pollinated only with pollen from the male flowers of the same breed. 
Just like in the picture you tear all of the petals off of the male flower to that the important part is exposed.  Then you rub the sexy bits of both flowers together, hence:
This needs to be done very early in the morning before the bees begin doing their thing.  As soon as the deed is done you can tie the female flower shut with some soft yarn, or better yet tie a paper bag around the flower for the day.  At the end of a day or two the flower should fall off and you will be past the point of possible cross pollination. Remember to mark the fruit that you have taken such care with so that you know which ones to collect seed from.

One year I got up every morning as the sun was rising and pollinated every flower on two or three butternut squashes that I was growing and I had an absurdly huge harvest of gigantic butternut squashes.  I have never known whether or not it was because of the hand pollination, but maybe . . .

Anyway, here is some extra seed saving inspiration from Vandana Shiva:

Happy pollinating!


abbie said...

ok, maybe I'm just tired, or, maybe it's just me. But I cracked up @ "rub the sexy bits together". You're such a perv. LOL

Barb Schanel said...

Yeah, I pretty much put that there just for you

abbie said...

LOL You're so wrong. Mom liked it, too.

Abbie W said...

Mom wants to know what the berries are on your intro page, and also can you send her a peck of raspberries?

Barb Schanel said...

Those are raspberries, and someday I will have enough of a harvest to do that!