The Secret To Pollination You Won't Find On The Net

Gardener:Old Mangakino Orchard (McCallum's Garden)

Date:22 Sep 2022

Blog Type:Vegetables

Now that we have a greenhouse, I've really been thinking about pollination and doing a little bit of research as it's not easy for bees to get into the greenhouse. 
I like to think of pollination as the love making of the plant world. In more clinical terms, it is when the pollen from the anther (male part) finds it way to the stigma (female part) enabling fertilization and the production of seeds. For a gardener, it is how a flower turns into a vegetable or fruit. 
As a gardener for many years I never really paid a lot of attention to this and just assumed the bees did the work so planted lots of flowers for the bees and let them do their thing.
After some research, I became aware that it is not only bees and insects that pollinate flowers but wind and water too. Knowing how a plant is pollinated is how you get the best results. For example corn is wind pollinated which is why it is good to plant in blocks rather than straight rows so the pollen has a better chance of reaching it's target no matter which way the wind blows. 
Just found out tomatoes are also primarily wind pollinated however bees help with their vibration which dislodges the pollen. So when we grow them in our greenhouse we will be using an electric toothbrush to vibrate the flowers and mimic a bee. 
Most of the veges we grow have the male and female parts in the one flower (self fertile) which is handy. However most cucumbers, pumpkins, zuchinni etc have separte male and female flowers. These require a bee to take the pollen from the male to the female flower for pollination to occur so if there aren't many bees around you can help by hand pollinating (using a soft paintbrush to transfer the pollen from the male flower to the female).
This research came about as we are growing strawberries in our greenhouse and for once I want a bumper crop. Strawberries are also wind pollinated and with little to no wind and no bees in the greenhouse we needed to do our research. 
I have been hand pollinating these by taking a soft paintbrush at gently transferring the pollen from anther to the stigma (large bit in the middle). There are heaps of articles on the net about hand pollination for pretty much any type of vege but sadly they withhold some of the lesser known tricks to get the best crop.
As mentioned earlier, pollination is the love making of the plant world so for best results it is best that the plants are in the right mood. The best time is generally between lunch and early afternoon. I find that reading them a romantic novel or playing a romantic movie before hand is helpful. I do not recommend a glass of wine. Turns out they don't like wine. Romantic songs help and you could try "every rose has it's thorn".
However the most important thing is to remember that you staring at them can be quite intimadating. Generally it is only bees and insects that do the job, so rushing in with a paint brush can be quite a shock. It is for this reason, you should do your utmost best to disguise yourself as a bee!
Don't just take my word for it. Give it a go and you will be amazed by the results. Our strawberries are really taking off. 
The Secret To Pollination You Won't Find On The Net