Thursday, August 18, 2011

Hand Pollination did wonders in my vegetable garden for bottle gourd plant.

I planted bitter gourd (karela) and bottle gourds this year in my vegetable garden. The vines are creeping in all directions and bearing lovely flowers. 

Bitter gourd and  Bottle gourd 
Bottle gourd creeping everywhere
I am getting a very nice produce from the bitter gourd plant  starting with small pretty yellow flowers and converting into pretty spiky karelas. One of my colleague at work even described it as "kind a like dinosaur" due to its spike.

Spiky Karela - Bitter gourd
 But all the baby fruits on the bottlegourd plant appeared to be rotting or dying on the vine or falling off the plant before developing into a fully grown fruit. I did a lot of search on Google and found out why the baby fruits were dropping off.
The reason for this disaster was inadequate pollination.  The bottle gourd plants produce both male and female flowers and are not self pollinating. They need help from pollinators to carry pollen from male flowers to the female flowers.
So may be my garden does not have enough bees to get them started.  So now what?

Solution : Hand Pollination.

What is hand pollination?
According to a wiki article on hand pollination 
"Hand pollination (also called "mechanical pollination") is a technique used when natural, or open pollination is insufficient or undesirable. The most common techniques are for crops such as cucurbits, which may exhibit poor pollination by fruit abortion, fruit deformity or poor maturation." Hand pollination is only an option on a small scale. "

How to differentiate between a male and female flower?

So how do you differentiate between a male and female flower in the bottle gourd plant. A male flower will have a longer, skinny stem as seen in this picture.

Male bottle gourd flower
But a female flowers will have a tiny "fruit" at the base as you can see in this picture below. These will rot and drop off if not pollinated. 

Female bottle gourd flower

How to hand pollinate these flowers?
There are several ways found on the web that many gardeners have used to hand pollinate the flowers.

  1. Dab an artists brush on the pollen on the male flowers and then brush it against the stigmas on the female flowers. Dark colored bristles help here to see the pollen gathered from the male flower.
  2. Do the same technique with a cotton swab.
  3. Pluck the male flower, remove all the petals and just brush it on the stigma of the female flowers.
  4. There is a very nice tutorial on hand pollination which can be used if you want to avoid cross pollination and preserve the seeds. 

I first tried it out on a single flower.. and yes I was amazed on its wonder. Then I did hand pollinate several flowers.

Hand pollination still does not guarantee 100% success.But you will definitely see the fruits of your labor. I 

The first bottle gourd from my garden.  More than a feet long... :)

Happy Gardening and hand pollinating!

Please do comment if you tried hand pollination and had success!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Ganpati decorations for the Ganpati festival celebrations for the past 6 years.

Its that time of the year again when I have to start planning what decorations I want to do this year for the Ganpati festival starting on the 1st Sept. I was looking through the photos of the  Ganpati decorations from previous years.
So I thought of sharing the Ganpati decorations photos from each of the 6 years in the U.S.A.

Ganpati decoration @ LasCruces, NM -2005

Ganpati Decoration @ El Paso, TX - 2006

Ganpati Decoration @ Oxford, OH - 2007

Ganpati Decoration @ Trenton, OH - 2008

Ganpati Decoration @ Mount Vernon, OH - 2009

Ganpati Decoration @ Mount Vernon, OH - 2010

Now I am in a dilemma of what next should I use to make the Ganpati temple in my Ganpati decorations for this year..
Suggestions please!!

Photos repainted in Chrome App : Psykopaint.

I totally love the Psykopaint App in the Chrome web store. Check it out!

Happy Independence day India!

A very happy Independence day to all my Indian friends!

जय हिन्द !!
मेरा भारत महान !!
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