Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Anatomy of a squash

DID YOU KNOW... that there are male and female flowers on squash plants?

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

Baby zuke

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!


Monika said...

Interesting that the fruit starts to grow and is aborted - I didn't know that! I'm using Firefox and have no problems viewing your beautiful new layout! You've inspired me to think about adding some more color to mine...something I've been meaning to do for some time now.

Nature As Is said...

Great post Heather...I know all of this of course...I come from a farming family. I also in my garden have mason bees...I have two houses now. Next year I'm hoping to add to that :) Your pictures are great Heather...lovely

Kelly said...

...the ferny stuff looks great on my computer. Cool!! I didn't know there were male and female blossoms on my squash plants! I'll have to pay attention. Great post with lots of info...

RuthieJ said...

Thanks for the information Heather. I was looking at my zucchini flowers yesterday and now I know why they looked different.

NW Nature Nut said...

I love it when we are photographing the same things even though we are clear across the country from each other. I took a bunch of squash flower photos over the weekend. They are pretty aren't they?
I can read your page just fine with the new border. I like it!

Heather said...

Monika - Gardening has taught me all kinds of things, so it only seems fair that I should pass along these interesting tidbits! If you're interested in adding something to the background of your page, like my ferns, I highly suggest going to repeatxy.com - they have TONS of backgrounds to choose from, and you can customize colors and stuff on them, too!

Crista - That's great to know you come from a farming family. What is the difference between a mason bee and a honey bee? It would be cool if you posted about your bees sometime!

Kelly - What kind of squash are you growing in your garden? Have you harvested any yet?

Ruthie - Apparently the male flowers last longer on the plant than the females flowers... I'm guessing once fertilization has taken place the female flowers start to wither, whereas the males could continue to pollinate.

Michele - I'll look forward to seeing your squash flower photos! They are very beautiful - so big and colorful.

The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls said...

Looks like zucchini bread is in your future! YUMMO!!!

Heather said...

Inn at Cedar Falls - Yes, zucchini bread and so much more... the possibilities are endless this time of year! I have a recipe for chocolate chip zucchini bread that is REALLY good!