Monday, June 17, 2013

Hand Pollination

There is a lot of information on the disappearance of the honey bee. There is a very interesting illustration in Rense today about the loss of our food crops if bees were gone. Much of this is true.

But it is not so bad as you might think. I understand that the lovable little honey bee is not native to America, but was introduced into this country. If the most likely candidate for bee deaths is insecticides, and they succeed in killing almost all bees, all is not lost.

I hope the bees make it. I love honey and the crops that bees pollinate and hope they continue to grow. But native Americans lived with no bees and so could we. We will not grow millions of acres of crops like alfalfa which rely on bee pollination. But corn will grow with just gravity and wind spreading their pollen.

Let me suggest a wonderful food source that can easily be hand pollinated and supply its own seeds for next year. This is the squash, a much over looked plant that is very nutritious and can last until next year's planting time. Some varieties were developed as baby food and really are very good food for little ones and adults, too.

Let us say that a very prudent person (I love prudent people, don't you?) goes to a grocery store and buys just one squash. I am speaking in this case, of one winter squash. They bake it for supper. Of course, they scrape out the seeds before baking it, and spread them on a sheet of newspaper or a paper towel to dry. Now what do they have? A very nice vegetable for supper and enough seeds for their garden in the spring, plus some to give away or even barter.

Now about pollination. Let us say the terrible thing happens, and at least in your area, there are no bees. You just pollinate your own plant's blossoms.

Some use little brushes, like artist's brushes. Some even use Q-tips. And some just take the pollen bearing stamens off one bloom and apply it to the female flowers--the direct approach. The male flowers stand out on long stems, and the female flowers grow lower and closer to the vines.

A few moments and you are done. The plant cares not whether pollination occurs by bees or by you. They are equal-opportunity employers.

With the expenditure of a dollar or so, the prudent person has begun their own food chain and seed source. By mashing up some baked squash with a fork, you have made some wonderful baby food, and after the first purchase, you have a free supply of both food and seeds.. If you don't add any chemicals your food will be pure.

My best friend grew some enormous vines. One morning he found a squash partly eaten, maybe by a raccoon. Even then it was not all lost. He saved the squash's seeds.

I trust you are a prudent person. Would you care to invest a dollar or so for just one squash?

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