Monday, June 28, 2010

growing zucchini

This summer marks my second attempt at gardening. Last year was pretty much a colossal failure. I planted corn, carrots, cucumber, zucchini, yellow squash, sugar snap peas, tomatoes and more. Sadly I had only herbs, sugar snap peas, a few tomatoes and one zucchini to show for all our hard work and money invested. The zucchini was the biggest disappointment. I LOVE zucchini.

It seemed as though something was cutting the blossoms right off the stem and this year I was having the same problem.

So I created a domed cage from chicken wire to put over the zucchini. The next day I noticed that something was still cutting off the blossoms. We figured whatever it is it must be tiny like a mouse to get inside the chicken wire. I decided to do a little internet research. I found this gardening site that explains my problem:

Zucchini plants have male and female flowers. Only female zucchini blossoms can produce zucchini squash. Once male zucchini blossoms have opened to release their pollen, they simply fall off the plant. Many times, a zucchini plant will produce only male blossoms when first in bloom to ensure that pollen will be available when the female blossoms open.

I decided to take a closer look at my zucchini plants and it was obvious that the article was right! The male and female blossoms even look different.

The male blossom is on a long stem and the female is short and close to the vine. The thick, fuzzy part of the female blossom is the start of a zucchini. Here is a zucchini that is further along:

If there is poor pollination from the male blossoms the female blossoms never grow. I guess that is why my garden produced only one zucchini last year. Thankfully, pollination doesn't seem to be a problem this time. Each plant has at least 2-3 visible female blossoms. I can't wait to eat all that zucchini!

I was joking with Michael that nature doesn't vary much in the reproduction process. The male is there to provide the pollination (or seed) and look good and the female does all the work. Then things got out of control with a few vegetable genitalia jokes that I won't sully your mind with. :) Your welcome!


Donna said...

I love it! The reproduction conversation sounds just like my husband and I. Good luck with the rest of your garden!

Marisa said...

"Learn something new every day." I just did! Thanks for the gardening lesson! I bet pumpkins are the same...I wondered what was up with my pumpkin blossoms last year.

jen said...

I'm glad you mentioned that nature doesn't vary the routine too much because I instantly thought the same thing "just like a man to fall off and leave all the hard work to the woman!" :)
If you need help with all that zucchini, let me know! I can share my zucchini bread recipe...

Sarah said...

How interesting that zucchini has male/female. Looks like you'll have lots of zucchini to eat this year, yum!

missbossypants said...

my zucchini plants didn't do well here either, but this year, I seem to have quite a few baby zucchinis on the go already. I have noticed there are quite a few more bees this year, thus better pollination? Good luck with the harvest!

JaymeKnits said...

Wow, good to know! I was starting to get disappointed with our zucchini for doing the same thing. This is our first year of having a very successful garden after 3 years of little to no success. (our key is new raised beds this year) We are already getting over half our veggies from it.

Karen Beth said...

I am so glad you looked up the explaination for the Zucchini problem. I have had that problem before and didn't know what it was caused from. Now I know. thank you. I like your blog.

Mandy Finlinson said...

I just cussed out my kids for picking off our only bloom on our zucchini plant. They swore they didn't do it! Oh, I feel so bad!

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