Monday, June 11, 2007

Garden Fornication

OK, so this blog isn't going to be as juicy as the title sounds, but you might learn a thing or two about how baby squash are made. And no, it doesn't have to do with a mama squash and a daddy squash being in love, getting married and going on their honeymoon.

About three weeks ago, I was excited to find that my crookneck squash had started to form fruit!


I was sure we would be eating squash within the next week or so. However, several weeks later when I was expecting to be harvesting my bounty, I saw that instead the fruit had all fallen to the ground. So, I consulted the Internet to find out what was going wrong. In fact, I consulted President Bush's favorite search engine, "The Google." The Google told me that my squash are probably not being pollinated. You see, female squash require pollen from male squash to make their fruit grow. Sure, a small squash will start out on the vine, but if the pollen doesn't make it to the mama, it gets aborted and falls off. Since squash pollen is very sticky, it must be carried from one flower to another manually. This is usually done by bees, but since we are killing off the bee population with pesticides and pollution, there are no bees to do the job. That leaves me ...

This is a male squash flower.


You can tell the male flower from the female flower in two ways. First, the male flower does not have a miniature squash growing behind it. And second, the male flower has only one "finger" poking out, whereas a female flower has three. Yes, this is technical jargon :)

In order to transfer the pollen from the male flower to the female, you can either use an implement such as a paintbrush to pick up pollen from the male and "paint" it onto the female, or you can pluck the male flower from the bush and rub the pollen onto the female stigma. This is the method I chose. I was excited today to find three female flowers and one male flower open, awaiting their love connection! I'll report in a couple weeks as to my success in squash fornication.

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At 10:24 PM , Blogger rpm said...

Wow, amazing discoveries!


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