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Self-pollinating plants

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Bean seeds are easy to obtain, since their flowers are generally self-pollinating
Photo: Rasbak

Beans, peas, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers and eggplants

These seeds are easy to obtain, since their flowers are hermaphroditic and generally self-pollinating. It is best to space different cultivars of the same species a good distance apart if there are many pollinating insects in your garden and not much nectar and pollen near by.

Beans and peas

Selection

Do not use any abnormal plants or discoloured or misshapen pods. Choose the earliest producers.

Distance between cultivars

It is recommended that you plant two cultivars of the same species 50 metres apart.

Steps

Harvest beans when the pods are quite yellow and dry. Pull the plants out of the soil and hang them in a dry, well-ventilated area. Then remove the seeds from the pods.

For peas, wait until the plants have died before removing the seeds from the pods and drying them for a few weeks.

Comments

If conditions are wet, you can collect the pods and finish drying them in a sheltered spot.

After drying them, place them in the freezer for two days, in a sealed container, to destroy any insect eggs that may be lodged under the seed coat.

Lettuce

Selection

It is important to select the proper seed plant, to maintain the line.

Choose well-developed specimens, or compact heads in the case of Boston, iceberg, Batavian or Romaine lettuce.

You can select and label your finest specimens, and then keep an eye on them as they grow so that you use only the ones that bolt, or go to seed, last.

Distance between cultivars

The recommended spacing is four to five metres between cultivars.

Steps

Once the flower stalk develops, it must be staked for support. This method means that you will have to sacrifice a few plants, unless you slit the lettuce on the diagonal, starting at its base to expose the emerging flower stalk, but this can be riskier. Since the central buds remain on the plant, they will produce flower stalks, but later.

You can collect the seed once the chaff, or fluff, attached to the seed is clearly visible, i.e. about twelve days after flowering. Cut off the flower stalks and lay them out to dry, then shake them well to dislodge the seeds.

Use a screen to separate the chaff from the seeds.

Tomatoes

Selection

Take the best-looking specimens from the third or fourth bunch.

Select them carefully, to maintain the special traits of the cultivars that interest you.

Distance between cultivars

You can grow different tomato cultivars next to each other. Five metres of spacing is recommended for cherry tomatoes, however.

Heritage cultivars with potato-type leaves must be spaced 50 metres apart.

Steps

Cut the tomato open and squeeze out the juice. Put the seeds and the gel surrounding them in an uncovered jar with a bit of water. After leaving them to ferment for 48 hours, skim off the white film with any floating seeds. Then dump the remaining contents into a sieve and clean the seeds under running water.

Blot them with paper towel and lay them out on a cookie sheet to dry.

Comments

Let the fruit ripen.

Peppers

Selection

Do not pick any fruit with black spots, as this disease can be carried by the seeds.

Select them carefully, to maintain the special traits of the cultivars that interest you.

Distance between cultivars

The cross-pollination rate among sweet peppers is thought to be about 80%, so they need to be spaced 50 metres apart.

Another method is to cover a few plants with an insect-proof cloth.

Steps

You can wait until the fruit starts to wrinkle before picking it. Remove the seeds, blot them and lay them out to dry, without washing them.

Eggplants

Selection

Select the finest fruit from the earliest producers.

Select them carefully, to maintain the special traits of the cultivars that interest you.

Distance between cultivars

Opinions are divided regarding spacing requirements.

Steps

Leave the fruit on the plant until it turns brown and beige. At this point it is no longer edible. Keep it indoors for ten days, then cut each one in half and scrape out the pulp containing the seeds.

Place the pulp and seeds in a bowl of water and squeeze them. The pulp will separate and the seeds will sink to the bottom. Repeat as necessary to remove all the seeds, and then dry them.

Based on an article by Nathalie Leuenberger in Quatre-Temps magazine, Vol. 23, No.4

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