Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Glueing chilli flowers, a way to save pure seed.

Chilli and sweet pepper plants can and do self-pollinate, but if you are growing more than one variety and want to save seeds from individual varieties then problems will arise. Most chilli peppers can cross pollinate with other chilli varieties, they can also cross with sweet peppers and vice versa, leading to all sorts of possibilities in future generations.  Bees and other insects are well skilled in moving pollen around available plants and flowers and in doing so they'll also be making a very good job of cross pollinating varieties! 

So if you are interested in saving chilli seeds and want to keep individual varieties pure, some form of barrier is needed. Methods you can try are; making an isolation cage, using fine mesh bags tied over flowers, growing an individual plant as a house plant. But another way is to use pva glue to seal the flower buds closed and ensure no stray pollen gets in to cross pollinate. I think the gluing method is a nice and simple way to achieve seed purity with not much effort. Especially good if you are growing several plus varieties with limited growing space. 

Flowering chilli plants 
Pva glue in a tube or a bottle with a nozzle. Alternatively a small amount can be poured into a suitable container for dipping the flower into. A plastic cap from a fizzy drinks bottle works well. 
Old cloth or kitchen paper towel, it can get a bit sticky!
Coloured thread or similar to identify the ‘glued’ self-pollinated flowers/fruits. It's amazing how difficult the glued flowers become to spot.

First select suitable flower candidates. In the picture below the lower big fat plump flower looks just ready to burst its petals open, whereas the slightly smaller flower above looks like it will be a couple of days before opening and needs a little longer to develop. 

Again here's a nice fat bud at just the right stage.

Next for the glue, I'm starting with a little dab in several places on the flower before spreading them out to cover all the petals, but I'm sure there are several good ways to apply a good coat?

And here I'm starting to spread the glue on this bud

Here you cans see the flower buds with their newly applied pva coat, still wet. 

You can see start to see the petals below as the glue dries to a dull see through coat. I've applied two coats of glue to make sure there is a good covering, if it is too thin the buds will burst the glue and be able to open.

It's good to have a little extra glue at the bottom of the petals, it helps to add strength. 

Five days later the bud is at it's maximum size pushing against the glue, but the petals remain closed. The glue coat appears to be good for catching greenfly too!

And again another flower sealed shut, looks like there is a fruit starting to swell underneath.  

In another three days, the flowers are fading and the chilli fruit forming is already splitting the glue coated flower and pushing it off. The red thread has been applied to the selfed fruits in order to identify them later on and avoid eating them by accident. It is best to mark them before or as you mark them, glued buds can be hard to spot as the glue dries clear.

With this smaller flowered variety I tried applying glue with my finger, it works but a bit messy both for me and the plant. 

I'm happy with these, the flowers have a good glue coating

Here's one of the glued flowers mature now and starting to fade, it looks just about ready to start splitting and being pushed off by the swelling fruit inside. 

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Enjoya Peppers (Flame Peppers)

Enjoya the first striped sweet pepper, how gorgeous are these!

Wow, I think they are just beautiful; the fruits ripen from green and take on amazing flame streaks. The fruits look like they are red on yellow and the pattern on each fruit is slightly different which makes them even more visually appealing. 

Last year I was captivated by how pretty these fruits are, when I saw their picture in a newspaper write up about them. I was unable to find any then, despite them being marketed through the supermarket Asda in the UK. I did finally locate some about ten days ago, I bought three. They are pricey at over £1 each, but I couldn't resist trying some and hoping for some seed inside to save too.

Bonus, they are tasty too!

The history behind the pepper is a little confusing, some sources say the pepper was found 2 years ago Hortidaily and here D. Mail report Asda have been working with growers for the last seven years to produce them?

Reportedly they are growing these on grafted plants, I hope this isn't an indication that they are only vegetatively propagated? I very much hope this is a heritable trait passed on through saved seeds. With this in mind (although it is a bit late in the season to be starting peppers off), I’ve sown some of the seeds I saved from the bought fruit. 

What to expect, well if the stripes are a heritable trait and it is a stable variety, then I will have plants the same as the parent and with stripey fruit. Though whether Enjoya is a stable variety or a F1 is another matter. 

If Enjoya is an F1 and assuming the stripes can be passed on through seed, then there will be two outcomes depending on dominance. If the 'pepper fruit stripe' trait is dominant then all the fruiting plants will have stripes, though plant and fruits will differ from plant to plant and parent. If it is recessive then as long as I grow enough F2 plants, I should find some with striped fruits, though again none will be identical to each other or the parent.

If the stripes can only be passed on vegetatively then all my plants, regardless of being from an open pollinated or an F1 variety, will be without stripes.  

Wish me luck!

Thursday, 10 March 2016

Elisabeth Mangetout Pea

I was gifted Elisabeth by a good gardening friend, Galina and what a delight they have been. They grow beautifully, taste great and look stunning! 

"Elisabeth is a mangetout pea from Switzerland which Elisabeth (my mother) bought. She shared her packet with me. One of the pea flower pairs on my plants had mutated to pink and white. The others were all purple. I marked the pink pair of flowers and grew the seeds separately. The plants are just like the original variety in every respect, with the exception of flower colour, which has remained pink. They are not fasciated like Salmon Flowered. The pods are up to 2 inches long, shorter later in the season and very prolific. Plants are around the 5ft mark, a bit taller this year with all the rain in spring and early summer." Galina

Since receiving them I've been growing these lovely mangetout each year,

Pink Axil

Seeds and dried pods, which are fibreless

I've used these peas in several crosses which I'm in the process of growing out. The cotton tag in the picture shows me this flower has been cross pollinated by another variety. Sugar Beth has Elisabeth as a parent.

Heritage Seed Library Picks 2016

I'm not sure what happened this year, I usually look forward to receiving the seed catalogue from the Heritage Seed Library (HSL) in December. But this winter has been quite a struggle and I just wasn't feeling very well, so all thoughts of planning what to choose was put to one side. That is until I received an email reminding that the deadline for orders was February 26th, which was just a couple of days away. With a cuppa I sat down and went through the list picking out varieties that took my fancy the most. I selected 6 varieties and sent of my request. I wasn't sure if I'd get back any of my first choices at such a late date, usually I put in the request straight away. 

My little parcel arrived a few days later, a really quick response by the HSL team. Four varieties were first choice and two second choice.

Bossingham Longpod broad bean (my 2nd choice, first was Relon)

Tower Hamlets dudi (my 2nd choice, first was Slovenian)

Waley's Pea Bean a climbing French bean.

Hutton Wonder pea

Coopers Bean - a pea. I got this variety in 2014 to try but I've no idea what I did with the packet!

Long Blood Red beetroot, I wet for the name as I've grown Early Blood Turnip and love it.
I also had a bonus packet of Tellus celeriac.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Colourful Broad bean flowers

This year I'm noticing some lovely and unusually coloured broad bean flowers, a really nice mix of pinks, purples, reds and browns.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Sugar Beth F2

What progress?
I'm a bit behind on quite a few things this year. I'd left the young plants, grown from seed a bit too long in their pots. They had become somewhat intertwined with each other and they looked weedy and a bit yellow! But they have been very forgiving and since their late planting out they are putting a lot of effort into correcting my neglect. I now have some flowering Sugar Beth peas!

One of three pink flowering vines.

Purple flowers on one of the vines

I have 12 plants growing from this sowing, 3 are pink flowering and the remainder purple. The purple flowering peas are showing a selection of coloured pods, green, partly purple and I think one is solid purple. Most are mange-tout type pods with 1 being a sugar snap which is part purple

Nearly all purple

Slightly mottled pod of a sugar snap type

Sunlight highlighting the purple and green colours

My aim for this cross was a pink flowering, purple podded mange-tout type pea, although I'd be happy with a sugar snap. But it looks like my aim won't be achieved. The 3 pink-salmon flowering peas have resulted in 1 green podded type and two coloured, but that's where it goes a little skew. The pods initially look like they are purple but as they grow they appear more reddy in colour, I think perhaps the pink flowering gene affects the tone of pod colour as well as the flower and leaf axil splodges. Although it might be a trait from the pollen parent. Anyway it is very attractive, though not as intense a red colour as the pictures I have seen of a 'red podded pea'. It is very pretty none the less, especially when sunlight catches behind the pod, then I think they look amazing!

Two of the pink flowering F2's have pinky - red colour on the pods

Pretty and unusual pod colour

A  purple flowered with green pod and a
pink flowered with 'pink' pod side by side.