Isolating Costata Romanesco

angelstiger(z5 NH)March 27, 2005

I know how to pollenate the female blossum with a male, without the bees. I know how to isolate tomato blossoms, using organza bags. But how do I isolate a big ol' squash blossum? I can not use distance, as I am growing 5 other varieties of Summer Squash. Also, even if I was growing just the one, my neighbors garden is within a stones throw of mine. I assume that once the isolated fruit is growing, I need to let it get quite large to make sure the seeds are mature?

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carolyn137(z4/5 NY)

You don't bag squash blossoms, it's a bit more complicated than that to get pure seed from squash, melons and cukes.

First. there are six squash species and X pollination doesn't usually occur between the species, with one exception.

So if you grow just one species of squash and no other squash is being grown for from 1/4 to one mile away, then you should have pure seed.

If you're growing more than one species then you have to hand pollinate.

Just roughly, and there are more explicit directions if you do a Google search or better still get Suzanne Ashworth's book called Seed to Seed which is superb for seed saving, you do the following.

The night before you're going to hand pollinate you select those male and female blossoms that look like they will open the next day.

Tape them shut.

After the AM dew has dried off you take the tape off the male blossom and break it off to use as a wand to pollinate the female blossoms.

You untape the female blossoms and then pollinate the stigma in the center of the blossom.

Then you securely tape shut those female blossoms.

As I said, that's the short version and it does take a bit of practice to ID those blossoms that will open the next da y and to get the pollination to "take", etc.

I don't save seed from squash or anythng else unless seed for a variety is so rare that getting more seed is a real problem.

Seeds for the squash variety you mention are widely available at many places, so it's your choice if you want to try the above.



    Bookmark   March 27, 2005 at 1:44PM
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Carolyn did a very good job describing hand pollination of squash in a nutshell. I'd just add, that I do it with all my squash and don't find it very difficult. It beats re-purchasing seed at today's prices.

Carolyn mentioned that it takes a bit of practice to ID those blossoms which will open the next day. This is true! There is a great deal of variation, between varieties, as to the appearance of a bud the day before opening. One needs to observe and learn each variety.

When I use the male flower, like a little paint brush, to pollinate the female flower; I don't tear off the tape. I tear off the petals with the tape. This saves a little work.

Personally, I prefer to re-tape the female flower shut. But I have heard that one can simply remove all of the petals, down to their very stumps, and that this will protect the flower from getting crossed. The few times I've tried this, it has worked. This is because the petals direct the pollinating insects into the pistol ( pollen receptor) of the female flower. Without the petals, the theory is that the bee (or whatever insect comes along) will simply sit on the side of the immature fruit and get its nectar without touching the pistol.

You can lightly scratch an identifying mark in the skin of the immature, hand pollinated fruit. This will grow with the fruit, identifying the seed as pure. Once the skin is hard enough that you cannot puncture it with your thumb nail, the seed is ready. If you can leave the seed inside the squash for 30 more days it will probably draw even more vitality from the squash. Remove and dry the seed to the point that you can snap one in half, without it just bending. Then store it in a dry cool place. I seal mine in jars.

Hope you have had a good squash crop this year!

Tahlequah, Oklahoma

    Bookmark   September 15, 2005 at 2:11PM
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