Community Gardening & Cross-Pollination

Community GardeningCommunity gardening, as with any project, always creates new learning opportunities. One of the last things most newcomers would consider when getting started is the realities of cross-pollination and its effects on their new garden.

Today, we are going to visit The Thrify Mama to find out what they learned about cross-pollination in their adventures with community gardening.

Community Gardening: Cross-Pollination Realities

Some plants will cross-pollinate causing poor results.  Corn, for example, is pollinated on the wind where cross-pollination of different corn types can lead to undesirable qualities such as poor taste, reduced sweetness, increased starchines, or diminished appearance.  Separation by distance or staggered planting times can eliminate these complications if all the gardeners work together with a master plan of what is planted and when.  That takes coordination and intentional management.  Thankfully I am the only gardener at my location with corn coming up this season.

Though it doesn’t happen across all plants, certain species can cross-pollinate with only the second-generation being affected by the mixed characteristics.  This makes seed collection for next year a real adventure in science.  For example, squashes, pumpkins and gourds (all Cucurbita pepo) can cross pollinate to create second-generation combinations that are less than desirable.

This problem is easily avoided by only using bought seeds for this type of planting.  This information is definitely something to be shared with gardeners every year so that new gardeners are not tempted to collect seeds for next year from affected species.

The good news is that it’s not as bad as it could be.  It is a well-spread myth that this cross-pollination affects melons and cucumbers just like squash, pumpkins and gourds.  I was falsely advised by about a dozen people to keep my cucumbers away from my zucchini for this very reason.  While there may be other reasons (like hungry cucumber beetles) to avoid close proximity of these plants, cross-pollination and mutant zucc-umbers are not one of them.

So there you have it. Some great information to keep in mind regarding cross-pollination. To read the rest of this article, click here. Then, let us know if you’ve had any interesting results while community gardening due to cross-pollination.

Photo shared on Wikipedia
by Jessie Eastland aka Robert DeMeo

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