The Birds and the Bees, Blossoms and Brush

The Birds and the Bees, Blossoms and Brush

Last year I had about six zucchini plants and I only managed to get one squash before the bugs got the entire plants. This happened in spite of rotating the crops and planting Nasturtiums around them to deter the bugs.  This year the zucchini are blooming and I don’t want to leave anything to chance (or to the insects or to nature).  At the first sign of a big yellow blossom, I was out in the yard, ready to intervene in the procreation process of a squash.  Squash (and pumpkins for that matter) have both male and female blossoms.  You probably guessed that pollen from the male flower is needed to pollinate the female. This can happen when insects visit both flowers but I thought I’d help things along a bit.  The male blossoms are the first to appear and there are a lot more of them than female blossoms.  They are only open for one day and only in the morning.  Male blossoms look like this:


male blossomzucchini male stems

Female blossoms have a fruit behind the blossom and look like this:

zucchini femalefemale blossom









If the fruit doesn’t get pollinated, it will wither and fall off.

They aren’t always close together like this:

one of each blossom

With a small paint brush in hand, I transferred some of the pollen from the male to the female and shazam!

pollen brush

In a few short days, I had a zucchini large enough to pick.  Do be careful to see if there is a bee in the blossom before you go sticking your paint brush in there.  I have found a few zucchini that nature managed on her own but in the race against the squash bugs and vine borers I think it’s okay to cheat a little and help the birds and the bees.

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