Archive for the ‘self pollination’ Category

Squash Seed Preservation Techniques

 
There are many ways to keep seed pure. We use caging techniques  in our garden, but it’s so large that caging is sometimes unrealistic or cumbersome with some varieties.
 
Taping some varieties of plants you intend to self-pollinate (for saving pure seed) may be a good idea for your garden.
 
 
 

Flower Taping

Above is a taped female blossom from a Butternut Squash plant. Notice the ovary (which will later become fruit). Male flowers are on a straight stem that contain no ovary.  Every morning I check for blossoms that will open the following day (You can see them cracking open, exposing a tiny bit of color). I tape these (male and female) to ensure I get to them before Mr. Bee does. The tape is ripped off along with the tip of the flower the following day and pollinated.
To pollinate, pick several male flowers and pick the petals off, exposing the anthers which are covered in pollen. You then rub several male anthers onto the females stigma and then tape the female shut again to ensure insects do not visit, introducing a cross pollen from your neighbor’s garden. This tape falls off with the flower as it dies. I then tie a bright piece of surveyor tape below the ovary. When harvest time rolls around I will only save seed from the marked veggies, as I know they will be pure. Vegetables that are going to be eaten and not saved for seed, do not have to be covered or self pollinated.
 
Many plants can be eaten and saved for seed (think tomato)  but others require over-ripening on the vine for good seed collection. Most squash seeds benefit from over-ripening (approx. 20 days after fruit is ripe) . It makes them hardier and disease resistant, giving your next years crop a wonderful start. Of course the over-ripening process kind of stinks because many squash (depending on variety) will be squishy at this point and un-edible. Winter squash like Butternut will remain nice and firm allowing you to collect seed and still enjoy the fruit. Other varieties like summer squash saved for seed will generally be mush by this point.
 
Self pollination should be practiced on the first sets of fruit as these are the best for saving.
What’s in your garden this year?
 
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