Seed Saving in a Small Way

aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. CanadaJanuary 16, 2011

I just reread the thread on Isolation Distance, the use of Agribon etc. a wealth of information in this thread.

I have a minuscule patch compared to most of you but still want to sample as many kinds of beans as I can this year. I also want to save enough seed from each to grow again if it turns out to be a winner in my location.

With the exception of 4 varieties, IWK, Tennessee Cutshorts, Mr. Tung and another I haven't decided on I'll be growing the rest to see #1 they will grow here, #2 we like the texture/flavor. These will be on single poles fairly close together so will have to bag blossoms to stop crossing.

Last year I had some success by using tulle, folding a piece around the flower, pole and all and using a darning needle and wool to stitch it closed, that worked but was too darn fiddly. I then tried clothes pegs to hold the tulle together, that was a little easier. After the beans formed I took the tulle off and tied a piece of wool around the beans, this means hands off in my garden.

I've think I've come up with another way to bag these individual blossoms, if it works I'll share, if it doesn't, mums the word. One way the tulle will be reusable, the other not.

Anyone else bagging individual blossoms, please share how you do it. I'm sure there are quite a few of us with small patches that would be interested in your method.


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Thank you Annette for the idea! I also was very interested in the thread. I haven't really saved seed seriously, was very concerned about varieties crossing and not sure how to prevent it and still get pollination... Your idea of tulle is intriguing - I can do that!


    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 2:43PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Tulle is fairly inexpensive, especially when cut into small squares for blossom bagging. If speed is more important than preserving the tulle - such as for numerous varieties, or larger amounts of seed - then stapling the pieces shut around the flower spike might be the fastest way. The bags would then need to be cut off once pods have set. I've done the taping method in the past, and it's a PITA when done in large numbers.

Alternatively, if you want to re-use the tulle squares, you could use small alligator clips to close them. They are much lighter than clothes pins, and less likely to break the stems.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 3:33PM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I tried the stapling thing, ol butter fingers here is looking for something easier. I was trying to think of a way I could make something up ahead of time so here's one idea.
Not knowing how each bag will fit use two pieces of tulle, put double sided sticky spots along the edges of one piece of tulle, removing the backing as you press the two pieces together around the blossom.

Thinking cap still on :).


    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 4:50PM
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Make a bunch of long tulle or nylon bags to fit over the whole flower spike, bread tie. When beans form, take off the tulle, put bread tie back on the stem to mark it.

    Bookmark   January 16, 2011 at 10:29PM
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Thank you! I am going to try this!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2011 at 12:03PM
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hmm, maybe I'm a bit difficult. Did anyone ever hear of wedding favor bags?


    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 1:20AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

Wedding favor bags, reusable right? Now that's a possibility thanks for the suggestion Darrel, I'll see what's available around here. Last year I found in some instances ready made bags didn't work, I ended up using the two pieces of tulle method around both the pole and the flowers, sewing, stapling, clothes pegs, whatever worked. If I run into the same problem again this year I'm going to try the glue dots in the corners and paper clip the rest, narrow double sided tape is another option if I can find exactly what I'm looking for.


    Bookmark   January 18, 2011 at 8:54AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

Maybe tape the blossoms shut?

In her book, Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties, Carol Deppe describes a method for preventing cross pollination of squash blossoms by taping them shut with masking tape prior to hand pollination. Timing is critical.

Maybe taping would work for beans if done properly. Deppe provides information about timing of bean pollination but does not write about using tape on beans.


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 8:43AM
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LoboGothic(6b SW Ontario CANADA)

This is a great discussion thread. How did it go with isolating bean blossoms, everyone? How did your ideas work? I plan to grow more than one runner bean this year and will have to do this bagging for the first time. I have lots of tulle but would it have to have the tinier holes to keep out those little guys like thrips? I also have lots of Remay which is quite lightweight and keeps everything out. Sew up a few bags and see how that works? Also heard of someone using old panty hose knotted at one end. Too heavy? At what stage do you bag? Just as soon as you see the blossom spike? Take it off when there are tiny beans?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 10:16AM
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aftermidnight Zone7b B.C. Canada

I broke down and bought some wedding favor bags which I used on some and I sewed up some tulle bags using wool for drawstrings on others. I also made a few bags of varying sizes sewed on three sides and stapled shut around the flower/s.

I know some of you use isolation cages, what do you make them out of? are they hinged for easier storage? Dimentions for pole beans? The reason I'm asking I have a few hard to find heirloom pole beans (only have a couple of seeds) and bagging all the blossoms would be a pain so I'm thinking cages. Anyone have pictures of their cages?


    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 11:13AM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

The isolation cages I use are only 3 feet tall, and used mainly for saving seed from peppers. They are a PVC frame, slipped over rebar rods driven into the ground, and covered with the lightest grade of Agribon. I tried them once for bush beans, but didn't like the results... the Agribon held in too much moisture, and the beans were diseased as a result. (Those same conditions are absolutely ideal for peppers.)

I had intended to try caging pole beans; but work has severely limited my free time the last couple of years, and I haven't found time to install the cages.

Rodger had a good design for caging pole beans in the Isolation Distances thread, which I've linked below for those who might not have seen it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Isolation Distances

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 2:14AM
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spacetogrow(4 MN)

I had read online about using 5 gallon paint strainer bags over small plants. They're not very expensive in my area so I tried a few on small test clumps of various bush bean varieties, burying the rims in the dirt. They worked well...but this was a very dry year in our area. I question whether there would be more problems with mold and rot if the weather had been wetter. They look like they're still in good shape for re-use so I plan to find out.

I didn't try them on pole beans. For those, I've been using wedding favor bags, which are also usually re-useable. It is very time consuming, though, if I want to get enough protected seeds just for myself, much less enough to share. A couple of my varieties (McCaslan 42 and Blue Lake S-7) usually produce 5 flowers on each raceme, so I could get more seeds for the bother than bagging 2 or 3 buds at a time on some other varieties. During very hot weather, the bagged blossoms tended to die.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 3:36PM
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