Posts Tagged ‘seed’

Inexpensive Seed Flats and Pots

I have spent endless hours searching for affordable seed flats and 3″ pots because I refuse to pay 15 bucks for one flat when I need SO many.

Well, I finally found an extremely affordable site and thought I would share!

Plastic pots

Seed Flats

Now if I could just find some affordable grow lights!


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?

The Caging Method

DIY Caging

DIY Caging

 There  are many reasons to cage your growing plants. Caging keeps insects out which minimizes damage from caterpillars, leafhoppers, vine borers, aphids, and more.  Caging also keeps your seeds pure and true-to-type. For example, if you are growing 3 different types of beans this year that you intend to keep seed from, they can cross via bee pollen transfer. Although your plants will grow as they should this season, the seeds you collect from them will not be pure the following year. 

Please note that some plants require pollination. In order for a squash to grow, an insect must visit the male and female flowers on your plant. If the blooms were caged no insects could reach the flowers to complete this process and the plants would bear no fruit. Caging is still very beneficial to keep insect pollinating plants pure, however they must be uncaged, pollinated by hand, and re-caged. When this process is used it is important to mark each of the female flowers you pollinate (we use surveyor tape gently tied under the ovary so we know which veggies are pure to keep for seed). Generally, it is easier to bag individual blooms on a plant like this, instead of  the cage method. Bags made from organza, spun polyester, or pantyhose are ideal for this purpose and can be removed as soon as the bloom closes. 

Plants that are self-pollinating like most bean and pea varieties do not require insects, as they pollinate themselves as the name implies. These varieties can be caged to ensure pure seed. 

Caging is fairly simple. Window screen, organza, and spun polyester are popular choices of material. In the picture above I pounded wood stakes 1″ into the ground and then laid organza over that, burying all edges firmly in the dirt to ensure that no bugs could enter. The organza will be removed as pods develop and are ready to eat or we will allow them to dry on for seed collection. 

It is very important that no bugs are present before you cage your plants. The cage will protect insects from any outside predators and create a perfect environment for them to thrive on your plants. 

Cages are great for organic growers who do not wish to use pesticides. Notice the caterpillars unable to get into my organza cage in the picture below… 

Catepillars on caging material

Caging method keeps the bugs out

 A cheaper and better alternative to organza is spun polyester. I happened to have some organza on hand for this project. A great site for spun polyester is… . The material is hardier than what it appears in the picture and water can penetrate it. It also provides great air circulation and does not hold heat in. Right now they have a 20.00 of of purchases totalling 40.00 or more. You can see the ad for this on the home page in the right-hand corner.

NOTE: Organza does retain some moisture. This was my first year using it over beans and the bean sections that the orgranza covered became TOO damp.