I have searched for and read several earlier threads about zucchini
problems. My two zucchini plants put on fruit, but after growing to
lengths of around 3-4", they shriveled up and died. From what I have
read it sounds like the problem is a lack of bees to pollinate the
plants. I did not, however, read the exact method of hand pollinating
the zucchini. I understand you take a male flower, which is located
on a fruitless stem, and rub it against a female flower, which is the
flower on the end of a fruit. Assuming that is correct, my question
then is do I open the female flower to pollinate? The flowers on the
ends of my zucchini are closed. I tried rubbing the male flower on a
closed female flower and I tried rubbing the male flower on a female
flower that I opened manually. Neither appears to have worked. I may
have been too late or else my technique needs improving. Also, how
soon should I pollinate the female flowers? As soon as they are first
formed or should I wait until they grow to a couple of inches long?
If it makes any difference in identifying my zucchini problem, I have
cucumbers planted in the same box of my Square Foot Garden and they
have done very well. That's one of the reasons I ruled out soil
Sounds like my zucchini situation. Thanks to suggestions from the newsgroup
folks I began to use a Q-tip to pollinate, swabbing the pollen from the male
flower and gently rubbing it on the female. I have to gently tear the
females flower open as they don't seem to do it on their own. I try to wait
as long as possible to make sure the female is mature, so seems like the zuc
is at least two inches long when I pollinate. I have one plant that has
grown to a monstrous size and I am awash in zucs - so be careful what you
wish for. How many ways can you prepare zucchini??
I've had pretty good luck using a Q-tip as well. The key is to make
sure you get pollen from the male flower and deposit it directly on
the stigma of the female flower (remove the ends of the petals if
necessary). The stigma is the broad somewhat sticky end of the
pistil. Cover it liberally with pollen
and watch your squash grow! Pick your squash when they are small and
tender and your plants will continue producing more flowers.
You don't have to fertilize all of them either. Remove the entire
flowers including the ovary (undeveloped mini-zukes on female flowers)
and pull out the interior flower parts before steaming and serving
with flowers on - or stuff the flowers with your favorite stuffing
(rice - ground beef - shrimp - whatever) and lightly fry the whole
thing. Or you can just pick and stuff the flowers (good use for the
males). Always remove the inner structures of the flowers and just
stuff the petals - they are great steamed, fried, or grilled. There
are literally hundreds of ways to prepare zucchini and I never get
sick of them. Did you ever just quarter them lengthwise and roast
until golden? Try it.
If you do get sick of them grow the last of your crop to enormous size
- yeah the behemoths that aren't really worth eating - and hollow them
out to make elongated jack o'lanterns - very cool! Don't forget to
roast the seeds for a healthful snack (the ones with "plump" seeds are
best for this).
Very interesting. I will have to try eating the flowers. Can't imagine what
they will taste like. So far I've been making lots of zucchini breads,
stuffed zucchini, zucchini casserole, sliced and fried zucchini and raw
zucchini in salad. I planted one pole bean with this one zucchini, basil,
lettuce, one tomato and one pepper (neither ripening yet) and this meager
garden is so far offering an abundance of food!
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