Featured Newsletter Article
Hand-Pollinating Squash (article taken from the Spring 2014 newsletter)
Last summer quite a few of my young healthy zucchinis suddenly shriveled up and died for no reason. Other zucchini plants had an abundance of flowers, but hardly any fruit. I thought the problems might be due to poor pollination, so I decided to hand pollinate and see if it made a difference. It did.
For squash fruit to develop, the female flower must be pollinated by a male flower. Typically, insects do this job, but if they don’t you can step in and assist. Male squash flowers have straight stems and no baby fruit behind the flower. Inside the male flower are anthers, which are Q-tip shaped organs covered in a powdery pollen. I used a small soft child’s paintbrush and rubbed in on the anthers until the brush was coated in pollen.
The female flowers have a small immature fruit right behind the flower. Inside the female flower is a stigma which is a smooth, sticky, bulbous organ. I rubbed the pollen-coated paintbrush onto the stigma of the female flower, leaving the pollen behind. The pollen from one male flower pollinated about three female flowers.
It is best to pollinate in the morning when the flower is full. You will know your pollination efforts have been successful when the immature fruit begins to grow and the female flower falls off. It was really easy to hand pollinate and I had so many zucchini growing, I had to give them away.