The female flower must be pollinated by the male flower in order for the squash to grow. Bees aid in pollination. If there aren't enough bees around to do the job, then the female flowers have to be hand-pollinated. If pollination is not achieved, the squash will begin to grow, but soon wither and die off. The pollination process is what causes the seeds inside the squash to grow, which, in turn causes the squash to grow (at least, this is my understanding of the process; if I'm wrong, please let me know!). If the seeds aren't fertilized, the plant basically aborts the fruit.
We have 3 ginormous zucchini plants growing in our garden this year. The cultivar name is "Space Miser," and they are supposed to take up little space in the garden. Not true. They have spread way out and are threatening to overtake nearby pepper plants and corn, even though there was plenty of room in between them all when we started.
male zucchini flower
male on left, female on right
Inside the female flower
Hopefully I'll be making some pickled zucchini soon.
Next time, I'll show you what else is growing in our garden!
P.S. Is anyone having trouble viewing my pages since I added the "ferny" background over the weekend? One reader mentioned a problem, and I wonder if it's happening to others. The ferny stuff should only show around the outside edges, with a solid blue background behind the text. If you're having problems, please let me know what browser your using so I can try to trouble-shoot. Thanks!