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Preventing Cross-Pollination

 
James Colbert
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I would like to start saving my own seed and breeding hardy variates specific to the land I currently "farm." There is of course a concern about possible cross-pollination. sepp holzer states in his book that this can be prevented or minimized by planting hedges and/or using raised beds (hugelculture) to separate wind pollinated species. My thinking was that if you set up paddocks each paddock would have a different variety of the same species. For example one paddock may have ali baba watermelons, mortgage lifter tomatoes, and russian red leaf kale -- whereas another paddock would contain orangeglo watermelon, omar's lebanese tomatoes, and lancinato kale. The paddocks would be divided by thick hedges which could also serve to keep animals in or out. Would this work? Also will similar variates of clover cross-pollinate, for example landino clover and strawberry clovers or perhaps sweet clover and subterranean clover? How can I know which variates can breed and which are fine to place together and still be able to preserve true breeding seed? I love the idea of picking the best fruit grown in the worse conditions to preserve and enhance plant hardiness and productivity.
 
Paula Edwards
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There are three books I can recommend:
- Breed your own vegetable varieties
- seed savers handbook
- seed to seed
There are plants which need a lot of distance like corn for example. I find the whole topic difficult, because I want to grow several varieties and I cannot imagine building cages and that stuff. But I plan to harvest my own seeds because of the apalling quality of commercial seeds here.
 
Alison Thomas
pollinator
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Location: France
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James, lots of the vegetables/fruits that you mention are not wind pollinated. They are insect pollinated and hedges tend not to deter insects from visiting lots of tasty different crops. Crops like squashes can have the flowers taped up before they open, then hand pollinated then taped up again and marked. Paula has given some great suggestions for books and I concur that they should give you almost all of the info you need. Yes corn is difficult because it is wind pollinated and sometimes the wind can be strong and blow pollen in from a neighbour's crop - I think the separation distance goes nearer to miles than metres/yards!
 
James Colbert
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thanks for the replies I will take a look at the books mentioned. Do you guys/gals think that paddock separated by dense hedges and forest would prevent cross pollination. My thinking is that if bees or other pollinators have everything they need in a paddock flower wise they will be less likely to venture through a forest or a relatively great distance to get what they can easily get near their home. I like the idea of hand pollinating and then tying the flower closed and this may be needed for select varieties but ultimately I would really like it if each paddock could have a different variety grown in poly-culture. Time to experiment I guess.
 
John Polk
steward
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Location: Currently in Lake Stevens, WA. Home in Spokane
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Another good method is to stagger your plantings so they do not all blossom at the same time.

 
Paula Edwards
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It is not only about cross polination. Some plants need a sufficient diverse genpool. Fro example corn or cabbages. That means that you must save seeds from enough plants, which is difficult with cabbages or do you want to eat 200 cabbages?
I try to save what is easy at the moment and buy the rest.
 
James Colbert
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The property I am currently working with is about 40 acres, it is pretty densely forested except in the garden area and areas for buildings. There is one large pasture like area next to the pond-to-be (hole in the ground that doesn't hold water), my thinking was to develop this area and then a few others creating island like paddocks floating in a sea of wild forest. My hope is it be able to breed specific variates in each paddock and because each paddock is so diverse and plentiful pollinators would be less likely to wander from home and if the did they would do so in so few numbers as to not adversely effect my breeding program.
I have been saving seeds from my sunflowers for the a last 3 years, but they haven't been breed for a single location because each year since I started saving them I have moved. I will also try to do this with my cover crop seed this year.

What other seeds have you guys saved, and did they breed true?
 
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