In order to preserve the genetics of your heirloom vegetables, here is how to manually pollinate the flowers. These steps are essential to obtain seeds that will preserve the characteristics of the parents.
This procedure should be done as early as possible in the season so that the fruit will reach maturity.
Steps to follow for hand pollination of flowers
- To ensure pollination between selected plants, the flowers must first be wrapped. This prevents the visit of pollinating insects and “controls” the pollination. As soon as the flowers form, but before they open, cover them with a paper bag, cheesecloth, culture veil or a loose piece of woven gauze.
- Then secure the cover at the stalk with tape or a tie. Choose male and female flowers from different plants. These flowers must of course come from plants of the same old cultivar to obtain seeds with identical characteristics. Otherwise, you will get hybrids.
- After 12 to 16 hours or when the flowers are sexually mature, proceed to pollination. Do this on a sunny day, early in the morning, just after the dew. Select a male flower and remove its petals to expose the stamens. Then cut off the male flower.
- Open the female flower and gently rub the pistil with the stamens of the male flower. Blow on the pistil to make sure the pollen is stuck.
- Close the pollinated flower until it wilts and the fruit begins to develop. Identify the fruit with a colored ribbon. It is recommended to use two to three male flowers for each female flower and to pollinate more than one flower in case fruiting is not successful.