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Saving Seed from Open Pollinated Vegetable Varieties.

Posted Sep 26 2009 10:00pm


Saving seed from open pollinated varieties of vegetables in the garden, will produce seeds which will grow into plants like their parents.

Open pollinated (OP) plants are varieties that grow true from seed.

* the seed will produce plants which are almost identical to the parents.
* OP plants are pollinated naturally by wind or insects.
* All heirloom plants are open pollinated.

Plants which are not OP, are hybrid plants.

* Hybrids are the result of crossing two varieties.
* Hybrid plants are different from their parents.

Tomatoes, beans and peas have a lot of open pollinated varieties.

* It is easy to save seed from these varieties.
* Plants grown from these seeds will be true to type (like their parents) producing similar vegetables.
* Open Pollinated Tomato varieties include:’Big Rainbow’, ‘San Marzano’ and ‘Brandywine’.
* Open Pollinated Pea varieties include: ‘Lincoln’, ‘Little Marvel’ and ‘Perfection’
* Open Pollinated Bean varieties include: ‘Kentucky Wonder’, ‘Blue Lake’ and ‘Tendercrop’

Cross pollination occurs in some open pollinated varieties.

There are always exceptions to the rule, and some open pollinated plants will cross pollinate, producing a slightly different offspring. This happens in peppers (which are open pollinated), where sweet peppers will cross with hot peppers in the same greenhouse, giving seeds which are hotter than the original sweet pepper.

Some plants have separate male and female flowers.

Sweetcorn is an example. These flowers often cross pollinate, the females picking up pollen in the wind, from a neighbouring plot of sweetcorn. So the resulting seeds will be slightly different from the parents.
* Cucumbers & courgettes are cross pollinated by insects, so if an exact copy of the parent is required the flower should be covered with muslin or a paper bag, so that insects cannot touch it. Then the flower can be artificially pollinated by transferring the
pollen from a male on the same plant to the female flower with a paint brush or feather. This avoids cross pollination.

It is well worth saving seed from open pollinated vegetables which have performed well in the vegetable garden, as long as the correct procedures for seed collecting

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