Where do food babies come from?

I’ve noticed a few belle pepper flowers that bloomed, hung around for a while, then shriveled up and fell off the plant.  This morning I decided to investigate…why aren’t my food babies growing? Internet told me that I might have a pollination problem.

Bugs and wind are essential in the pollination process.  Although we do get a fair bit of wind, not many bugs (other than aphids apparently) make it up to our 7th floor balcony.  So, we decided to take matters into our own hands and help the pollination process.

 I think now is the right time to have ‘the talk’ with all of you. When bugs poke around your vegetable or fruit flowers, they move the pollen from the stamen (the boy part of the flower) to the pistil (the girl part of the flower).  Once this happens, a food baby starts to grow where the flower was.  After some time, the food baby reaches the right size to pick and eat.  This process is so important because food babies are the most delicious type of babies. And that my friends is where food babies come from…not the most romantic process, but it is what it is.

Ok, let’s get back to it.  Hand pollinating isn’t that hard.  

If you have a self-pollinating plant, all you have to do is wait until the flower blooms and you see the stamen and tiny pollen particles.  Take a Q-tip or a small paint brush and brush the pollen off the stamen down into the pistil (middle part of the flower). Wait a couple days and you should see the start of a delicious food baby.

If your plant isn’t self-pollinating, you should see two types of flowers growing.  A male flower that has a visible a stamen and a female flower which should look more like the start of a vegetable with a flower attached.  Use your brush to move the pollen from the stamen of the male flower to the pistil of the female flower.  You could also go caveman style and shake the male flower over the female flower.

The majority of the plants we’ve grown this year are self-pollinators.  So the process was easy enough.  We started with the eggplant, tomatoes, and tomatillo plants.  We’ll move on to the pepper once the flowers bloom!