Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Zucchini reproduction

Or, what the hell is wrong with my zucchinis?

We grew zucchini (among many other things) back in Goleta. There wasn't much too it- you planted some seeds, a plant or two grew, they produced delicious zucchini. But when I finally planted zucchini here in New York last year, the results were highly disappointing. The plant would blossom, produce a baby zucchini, and everything would look awesome. But then the baby zucchini would stop growing, wither, and rot on the vine. I thought maybe it was because we had a damp, cool summer and hoped this year would be better.

And at first it looked like it would be. My oldest zucchini plant was HUGE, much bigger than last year. It had gorgeous enormous flowers, and then baby zucchinis! They looked bigger than last year's, and I relaxed. Everything would be fine.

But everything wasn't fine. The first baby zucchini stopped growing and shriveled up. Panicked I searched the internet again, and this time found suggestions that my plant might not be getting pollinated. This surprised me a bit, because we have bees around here. Big fat black and yellow bees and little golden honey bees (one even stung Liel the other night). Nonetheless I decided to take the internet's advice and help my zucchini plant have sex, since the bees apparently weren't doing so and I was desperate to have the thing actually produce. It takes up a lot of room in my garden, you know?

First thing I had to learn was the difference between male and female flowers. This, it turns out, is ridiculously easy as the females are attached to a small zucchini and the males aren't. They're only open for a little while each morning, but when they are you're supposed to take a paint brush, dip it in the pollen from a male flower and then brush the pollen off into a female flower. Easy. Sadly, I found this information too late to save one of the two zucchinis currently on my plant, but I did save the other! Their flowers only give you a couple of days in which to pollinate them and then they shut down and the zucchini dies. Here's a picture of the one I saved and the one I didn't. There are other baby zucchinis on the plant (as well as on one of my other zucchini plants) but none of them are big enough to be pollinated yet.

The rest of the garden is looking awesome, especially since my gladiolas started blooming.

I've been pollinating the cucumbers too (on the left side of this picture, behind the smaller zucchini plants) and they seem to love it as they're really trying to take over everything!

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