Aquaponics - Capsicum pollination fail

I don't know enough about plant reproduction.

I don't like not knowing enough about plant reproduction, so I'm going to do something about it.

Since I put up the grow house, I've had some concerns about pollination. With the door closed and when the weather is cold there isn't a lot of insect life around my plants. Most things seem to take care of themselves, but I have a cotton bud that I use on the first flowers I see.

The first flowers I see of something like my strawberries are more important then the next, because I want to taste the fruit, and I want to get photo's for this blog. As a result I try to take care of them a bit, and make sure they don't get eaten, or knocked off by my clumsy moves around the grow bed. (it's amazing how much damage one person can do when chasing a tiny bug around with a camera).

I also take the extra effort to make sure they are pollinated. To do this I have a cotton bud in a little jar that I keep in the grow house that I stick into flowers. I don't bother with it as an ongoing thing, but I almost always do it to the first of a new fruit or vegetable.

When my first capsicum flower opened, I didn't have another to cross pollinate with, but I thought I'd collect some pollen on the cotton bud I keep around, so that I'd have some for the next flower at least. So I took a swab. The cotton was already yellow with pollen from the first tomatoes, the first strawberries, and whatever else I'd used it on. 

That first flower turned into a fruit, so I didnt bother doing it to the next few.

The odd thing is, that the next few failed to be pollinated, and the fruit did what un-pollinated fruit do. They shriveled, died, and dropped to the ground.

On hot days when the grow house door is left open, I get a lot of visitors from the bug world, including some bees. I suspect that a bee or someone with a similar taste for pollen, visited my first flowers on my strawberries, and before I took a swab, left behind some capsicum pollen from a nearby garden. I took it up on the swab and passed it on to my capsicum's first flower.


I might be wrong, but just in case, I wandered out into the garden and, using the same cotton bud, collected pollen from a random selection of flowers.

It hadn't occurred to me that the bees would not just leave the correct pollen for the plant to set fruit, but it would leave a stack of different pollen. And perhaps not just the pollen it had collected, but probably pollen from everything the entire hive had visited. And given that flowers between hives are vised from both hives, perhaps even pollen from other hives. Pollen is small. really small. Small enough to be in the air and make allergic people sad. I'm told that today the pollen count is high, but I cant see any of it.


For the next few days I'll be taking my cotton bud around with me and stick it into flowers to collect a decent sample of everything that's currently flowering. Then I'll do it a few more times at different times of the year. Eventually I'll have every kind of pollen I'll ever need. It seems the stuff stays viable for a while as well.

It's also possible that capsicum flowers don't need pollination, thus my need for further education.

120 Things in 20 years, sometimes plant romance needs a helping hand, because sometimes aquaponics capsicum pollination fails.

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