“Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me find, catch me a catch.” I’ve got you singing now too, don’t I? I love that movie, “Fiddler on the Roof” I want to be a garden Yente in the garden, minus the gossip, don’t have time for that. I’ve pollinated tomatoes which are a cinch and peppers too. Squash are a bit trickier and I’ve not tried them but I will just because I need the experience even though I can rotate what squash I grow from year to year.
- First I have to know how each plant is pollinated, wind, insect, or self-pollinated.
- Does the flower have both female and male parts or are they completely separate?
Squash has a separate male and a female flower.
This is a girl, see she is all dolled up and frilly attracting a bee. Yes, they are insect pollinated.
Below the flower you can see the swollen fruit embryo.
This is male squash flower. Note the single stamen.
He does not have any swelling at the base of the flower.
Blossoms open for only a day. That means to breed there has to be a male and a female open at the same time. When the first blossoms on the plant arrive they are all male which means this is the time to dig out the squash blossom recipes. Soon the girls will make their dramatic Cinderella staircase entrance. You know the one all little girls dream of.
The key is to know when the flowers are developed to the point of opening but not open yet. This is the time the chastity belt comes on or in this case a small paper sack, cotton made sack, or others use tape. This protects the male and female to make sure the marriage night or rather in this case early morning, pure. Early morning you set out once more for the garden and uncover the male blossom, peel back the pedals and leaving some of the stem for a handle, carry it over to your female blossom. (Don’t let any insects near it or the female flower!) You will note hid behind the petals of the female flower the pollen-covered male anther, which looks like a miniature cob of corn. Expose her feminine parts and using the male like a cotton swab. to spread the pollen.
Takes a little practice to get the timing right but worth the effort since you can save seed from the:
a. Healthiest plants.
b. Choose the ones that do best in your garden to insure the ‘cream of the crop’
c. Save money
d. Suit taste preferences
d. Choose those that best adapted to your growing conditions.
And maybe be adventurous and do a little mixing and matching to create a whole new kind of squash.
Be adventurous with me this summer. Let’s give it a try together.