Grow. Food. Anywhere. (Hardie Grant, 2018) by Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik-Reardon goes through every fruit and veggie you can think of, giving you the best tips on growing each, as well as the different buggies and diseases that may be coming after your garden. In the following excerpt, they explain how to hand pollinate your garden.
Sometimes gourds and melons can have difficulty attracting the right partner. In these cases, canny gardeners take matters into their own hands. Hand pollination is standard practice in the horticultural world and is one way to pick up the slack when the birds and the bees just aren’t doing their job.
As always, you want to get the mood right. Maybe you want to invite your friend Marvin Gaye over for a bottle of pinot, or perhaps it’s more of a Guns ‘N’ Roses kind of affair. No matter your taste, you will want to get down to business quickly and that means getting to know the anatomy of your plants.
1. Inspect your plant for different flower genders.
2. While both flowers are superficially very similar, a closer examination will reveal that female flowers have a longer and thicker stem than the male flowers on your plant. Fruit grows from the base of female flowers and even before pollination has occurred, the stem should be slightly engorged. Male flowers, on the other hand, will have thin stems and tend to bloom earlier and in greater abundance.
3. Pluck a couple of the males by the stem. Peel back their petals to expose the plant’s stamen, a phallic structure at the center of the blossom.
4. Male flower in hand and stamen ready, begin to move about your patch like a dutiful honey bee. Carefully spread the petals of the female flowers and carefully push the stamen inside. No rush.
5. Yes, it may feel a bit naughty, but before you know it you will be a seasoned pro, ready to pollinate any flower that crosses your path. It’s not possible to over pollinate, so go crazy.
6. With your plants pollinated and the garden yielding abundant fruit, there is nothing left to do but sit back and relax. Cheers to gardening.
Excerpted with permission from Grow Food Anywhere by Mat Pember and Dillon Seitchik Reardon, published by Hardie Grant Books February 2018, RRP $24.99 hardcover.
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