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Posts Tagged ‘pollination’

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I roasted these pumpkin seeds — delicious!

The topic of the LS-SFA’s Annual Meeting yesterday was seed saving — something I rarely do. I’m all for it, but it’s just one of those things that I know isn’t going to make it to the top of my to-do list anytime soon. I’m glad I had the opportunity to spend some time around people who are passionate about seed saving, though, because if nothing else, it reminded me to be grateful to all the people who have saved seed throughout the years, preserving heirloom varieties. And, I’m grateful that we have some excellent seed companies in our country that develop and maintain thousands of varieties that commercial vegetable growers depend upon.

This year I’m going to try more new varieties of veggies than usual, for various reasons. Several varieties I was planning to buy were sold out, discontinued, or unavailable due to crop failure at the seed company’s source farm. Other varieties I’ve used didn’t pass muster, such as some of the head lettuces. And I’m still searching for the perfect tomato varieties to grow in the field (Will the quest ever end? Probably not).

There’s another reason to try new varieties, though — for fun! I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating that it’s pretty exciting to try a new variety just because it sounds intriguing in the catalog or you’ve heard it’s delicious. In honor of squash being named Duluth’s vegetable of the year for 2013, I’m going to grow everything I grew last year and more, including some spaghetti squash (several members have requested it) and “Gold Nugget” hubbard-family squash (you can get the open-pollinated version from Seeds of Change).

Cornfield Pumpkin from Seed Savers Exchange

Cornfield Pumpkin from Seed Savers Exchange

I know saving seed from veggies like tomatoes and peppers isn’t that difficult, but right now, isolating varieties to prevent cross-pollination seems like just one more complication in my field plan that I’d rather not deal with — getting a working rotation down is challenge enough. I don’t even want to think about hybrid seed production — hand pollinating? Don’t count on me to get it done.

In other words, I’m feeling pretty good about the money I just spent on vegetable seeds. It seemed like a lot of money, but on the other hand, I’m happy to pay for a quality product.

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I spotted the first few potato blossoms this week, but I didn’t get a good photo of them. A field of potato plants in bloom is a pretty sight. We only have four rows, two of which are still babies, but the earlier rows are very nice to look at, being quite lush and green at the moment.

A farm member recently confessed to me her ignorance about how potatoes grow, so for those of you who don’t know, potato plants do flower, and they’ll form little berries later on. They can reproduce that way, but to grow potatoes you plant a piece of a potato in the soil. The potato is the tuber of the plant, which is something like a cross between a stem and a root. It grows underground, and to harvest potatoes you stick a potato fork in the ground under the plant and lift. The potatoes dangle from the plant and you shake them loose and pick them up. Yields vary, but you can get 6-8 potatoes from one plant.

Other flowering beauties right now at Stone’s Throw Farm include eggplant and squash. The squash plants have male and female flowers, so they rely on insects for pollination. That’s one reason I’ve been letting the red clover and wildflowers go on the farm — to attract bees.  Eggplant are like tomatoes in that each flower has both the male and female parts. They just need a breeze to shake the plants and achieve pollination.

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