Harvesting 'Hairy ball' seeds?

linda_centralokzn6(Zn7_Okla)October 16, 2007

I have lots of green Hairy balls. Do they have to turn brown before harvesting the seed? Mine have been green for a long time.

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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

Linda,

Are your green hairy balls on Gomphocarpus physocarpus?

I have a few myself. :-)

randy

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:13AM
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linda_centralokzn6(Zn7_Okla)

Yes, Randy, they are. The butteflies really love to nectar on the blooms. And the Monarchs did find it to lay their eggs on, but I tended to move them to other plants, so that I could save the seeds. I have several balls, so I will have hundreds of seeds if they don't wait too long to rippen as the weather has gotten cooler recently.

Did you start yours fom seed, or get your plants from Marilyn? I wondered if the seed was started in March, would they have enough time for the seed balls to rippen? I got my plant from Marilyn in April. So, the seed would probably need to be sown in Jan. or Feb. I'm glad that mine is in a pot. I may need to bring it into the garage if the balls haven't dried in time.

Did Amber have a great summer raising Monarch and other caterpillars?

Do you have any milkweed up in your pasture with some tender new growth? Chip Taylor from Monarch Watch is really wanting to do some isotope studies on milkweed in Okla. It has to be out in the wild that has never been watered with city water or ground water source. Only rain. I found some from out in the country. If you find some, and are interested, I will e-mail you his instructions. He is very explicit on how he wants the leaves frozen.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:35AM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

Linda,

Got the plants from Marilyn when I met you at the market. I'll move mine into the greenhouse soon.

Amber had a blast raising monarchs. Even took some to the gym to show her teammates. Being home schooled does cut down a little on the large group interaction one gets in a school surrounding.

The pasture is so overgrown I haven't seen milkweed in a while. I'll take a walk and check to see what's out there. Most of the large patch next to the road died back after the warm dry weather finally showed up.

I'll let you know.

randy

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:45AM
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linda_centralokzn6(Zn7_Okla)

Glad that Amber got to experience raising Monarchs.

I had trouble finding mw up, much less with any tender, young leaves, also. So, it was a thrill to find some. I am going to talk to him about doing another study earlier next year, so that we can have a more wide spread sample.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 11:22AM
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tracey_nj6(6)

I was wondering if mine were going to ripen as well. I had wintersown my seed and planted in May. Gorgeous 6'+ plants, just recently developed pods. Two are the size of golf balls, and a few smaller, all green. Hopefully it'll stay warm enough for me to harvest just a few seed ;)

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 2:43PM
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catlunatic(z8a TX)

On my Swan Milkweed I notice that the pods will begin to yellow then I check every morning and afternoon watching for that first little split in the "seam". Once I see that I harvest them . It's much easier to collect the seeds that way. There have been times when the pods have opened while I am at work and by the time I get home most of them are already out of the pod and gone.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 3:06PM
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linda_centralokzn6(Zn7_Okla)

Catlunatic, thanks for the info! :) Are yours starting to turn yellow? How early did you plant your seed? Or does yours reseed in Zone 8?

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 4:35PM
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catlunatic(z8a TX)

Actually Linda my plants are 2 years old. I started them from seed last spring and they went thru the winter with barely even getting frost bitten. They bloomed and I have already collected most of the seed. These plants were enormous this year, well over 6 foot with a 4 foot spread. I had many monarchs and queens thru the summer. I hope they make this winter also.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 10:01PM
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linda_centralokzn6(Zn7_Okla)

That's good to know. Perhaps, mine may overwinter in the garage. Sometimes, I've overwintered trop. mw this way. Thanks! :)

Mine are starting to turn tanny yellow.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2007 at 11:10PM
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napapen(ca 15)

Mine took along time getting ripe last fall. If you want to ensure you get the seed, tie a baggie on the stem and any seeds that pop will stay in the baggie.

Penny

    Bookmark   October 17, 2007 at 12:20AM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

Linda,

Did you get to harvest seed from your plants?

Mine haven't ripened yet. Seems like they have been a light yellow for ages. One pod is starting to slowly turn a light pale brown on the side facing the plastic wall of the greenhouse. Since I moved them to the greenhouse they have started to set more blooms. I would love to get seed off them.

randy

    Bookmark   December 7, 2007 at 4:52PM
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texaspuddyprint

Pssst...I want some hairy balls. If ya'll have a few to trade please email me. We get gobs of Queens and Soldiers so they can surely make use of this milkweed variety.

~ Cat

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 12:06AM
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linda_centralokzn6(Zn7_Okla)

Randy, I've not had very good luck getting mine to ripen. The 1st ball that I cut off was turning brown. I let it dry for a couple of weeks, opened it up, and the seeds were ripe. I had picked a couple more of them at the same time, only they weren't as brown. And, when I opened them up, the seeds were still green.

I have the pot in the garage. Since then, 1 other pod has opened up on its own. I still have several large pods on the plant, but don't have alot of light in the garage. So, I'm still waiting for them to ripen. Sure wish that I had a greenhouse!

And, now with all of this talk about a possible "Ice Storm", and power outages, I'm sure that they will be goners with having to open and close the garage door for cords for the generator. I sure hope that they are waaay wrong. I still have nightmares from the last bad one!!!!

Cat, I would love to help, but I don't have enough seeds to share. I'm sure that Randy will have better luck. Your Queens will like the Hairy balls. I found several eggs and cats on mine. Several butterflies enjoyed the blooms, also.

Here's another link concerning the balls ripening, but I can't say that it helped me much, aside from making sure that the balls are more brown.

Here is a link that might be useful: Harvesting Hairy balls

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 2:07AM
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rjj1(Norman OK Zone7)

Thanks Linda. The brown color was starting to worry me, but it sounds like that's normal.

I don't like talk of ice. Have new plastic on my greenhouse and lots of wood for the wood stove, so no electricity won't be an issue for me as far as losing plants anymore.

Cat,

I'll be glad to share with you if they ever open up.

randy

    Bookmark   December 8, 2007 at 6:41AM
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