Sex in the Garden or Why is My Squash Not Producing?

 

 

Sex in the Garden or Why is My Squash Not Producing?
Pollination is Key

I was out and about town yesterday doing some shopping when someone stopped me. I was in a lineup and a woman looks and me and says, “You’re the garden lady, aren’t you?” I knew I was going to be bombarded with questions while in a lineup. I was going to pay for something so it wasn’t the best timing but I let her ask.  She said, “I have to ask you something. Why isn’t my zucchini producing fruit? Uh oh, here we go again. This is one of the most common questions from gardeners now.

Sex in the Garden or Why is My Squash Not Producing?
Sweet Alyssum

I started to explain to her that it was most likely due to a lack of pollination from bees and she may want to place some flowers like sweet alyssum in between her plants. “Really” she said, “But why?” Well, the flowers will attract the bees so they can transfer pollen. The bee has to transfer pollen from the male flower to the female flower so pollination can take place. If it doesn’t happen you won’t have fruit.

Sex in the Garden or Why is My Squash Not Producing?
Male Flower

She asked what a male flower looked like. Male flowers tend to open early in the morning and are often located a the edges of the bed. If you look at the photo above you will see the rod like tube or anther that the bees need to land on to get pollen. Pollen sticks to the bees legs as they fly to the next flower.

Sex in the Garden or Why is My Squash Not Producing?
Female flower

She then asked, what does a female flower look like? I went on to explain how its base is swollen below the flower and its center is a cluster of  stigma which look like a tiny flower cluster. Female flowers are often found on the inside of the plant near the stems. If the flowers isn’t pollinated it turns brown like the one in the above photo and falls off.

Meanwhile I all of a sudden I look up and I have everyone listening. I had explained how the flowers are different and thought I was done. Until… she asked if she could do the pollinating herself. Yes, I said you can take a male flower and touch it to the female flower and there you have it, sex in the garden. Everyone roared with laughter.

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