Day by day farmers are suffering from lower yields of their crops. This is suspected to be mainly due to the reduction in bees and insects all over the world in recent times which even the scientists can not figure out. Some crops like tomatoes self-pollinate themselves, but other plants like zucchini, pumpkins, squash and other vine crops might produce flowers of both male and female gender on the same plant, and for such occasions in order to produce the crops we might need some assistance like pollinating the crops by hand, esp. in times when there is no sign of insect vectors.
In such precarious situations, home gardeners can use their hands to pollinate their fruits and vegetables in order to see a full yield of fruits and vegetables even without the help of insects and bees.
Hand pollinating is very important and essential for gardens which are made indoors and in greenhouses. Some gardeners who use container gardens and balcony gardens to grow crops may also need to hand pollinate as they also risk pollination problem. The pollination problem arises as those crops don’t get enough insect and bees traffic as ground gardens get.
Before jumping into conclusions that bees and insects are the main reason for your crops to not grow, check if the plant is producing both male and female flowers. First flowers are often male flowers or render pollen effective which will die without producing any fruits. Only male flowers may also occur due to extreme hot or cold weather. But in situations where there are both male and female flowers but still the fruit is rotting, curling up and fall off, stem and on the vine. If this is the case then you can be sure it is because of inadequate pollination also known as fruit absorption.
Hand pollination is very simple; all you need is some planning, patience and effort to harvest your fruits and crops. You can use the following methods and techniques to hand pollinate crops successfully.
The things that you will need are:
– paint brushes
– bristle paint brushes
– zip loc bags
– pen marker
– paper bags
– cotton tip swabs
– garden knife
Most plants can be pollinated using a paint brush. It can be bought from dollar stores. Brush size depends on plant size. You can level the brushes like “tomato”, use separate brushes for different plants and place the plants in a plastic bag, this helps to keep the pollen separate.
Tomato plants are pollinated in a different method. You can use an electronic toothbrush, and use the back side of it to touch the back of flowers. You can see the pollen falling from flower in the form of powder. This process should be done in morning hours when temperature is between 60 to 70 degrees Celsius.
To pollinate cucumbers, peppers, berries and most other plants, use specified brushes for different plants and brush inside each flower lightly like a painter would paint a portrait. After polishing all plants place each in separate bags and refrigerate it in a dark place.
Melon and squash flowers are a bit more complicated to hand pollinate as they occur in two forms, male and female. Usually both male and female flowers are present in the same crop, but if only male flower is present, snip the flower and keep it in a cool place until a female flower grows, then use cotton swab to collect the pollen from the male flower and put in inside the female flower. Then keep the bags until another female flower grows.
Corns is also pollinated in a different way as the pollen falls down to the ear silks. The correct way is to cover the top of the plant with a paper bag and shake it gently. Then remove the bag and collect the pollen from the bag using a paint brush. Then refrigerate then in a sealed bag in a dry place.
Fruit trees like Paw Paws and others are also pollinated in the same way using a step ladder and use a paintbrush to collect the pollen until the flower close in a few days.
After all these methods are applied on your plants for pollination and still you can’t get any result out of it then there might be other problems like lack of sunlight, water or other problems with soil.
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