Vegetable Sex

Sorry googlers, there are no pictures of carrots or tomatoes or any other vegetables in compromising positions. Let’s talk about propagation.  I’ve written about plant propagation and cross pollination previously but those posts weren’t about actually doing it.

Last year, we only used part of the guild garden because we were still building it and figuring out what we wanted to grow there.   We had a number of volunteers pop up from seed in our compost pile.  Not needing the space, we let them grow, curious to see what they would produce.  OK, so what is it?  A zucchini on steroids?  A pumpkin?  Nope, we weren’t growing any.  An acorn squash?  Maybe.  There’s a bit of the classic acorn squash ribbing.  Determining what had crossed would be fairly easy.  The squash grown in most gardens fall into one of four species.  Crossing will occur within a species but not between species.  All we had to do was find two of the squashes we were growing within one species. Bingo – a cross between a Table Queen Bush Acorn Squash and a Black Beauty Zucchini.

We had an acorinni or was it a zucchorn? Hold on a minute.  Better taste it first to see if it’s worth naming.  The taste was terrible.  Actually it had no taste at all.  The texture can only be described as hard, rock hard.  And cooking did nothing to soften it.  Forget naming it.

Saving squash and melon seeds is actually relatively easy.  Check each night for male and female flowers that are likely to open in the next one or two days.  They will have some yellow colour in them but not yet be open.  Tape them shut with a good sticky tape.  Stick the tape to itself not just to the flower.  When the flowers are clearly ready to open, gently pull the tape-covered tip off of the male flower off and carefully remove all of the petals, taking care not to dislodge any pollen.  Then pull   the tape-covered tip off of the female flower and make contact between the male anther and female stigma.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then tape the flower shut and mark the stem so that you know which flower has been pollinated.

These are the basics but reading a good book will give you a more complete picture of what to do such as how to identify male and female flowers. (Notice the shape of the male and female flowers in the anatomical drawing.)

More pictures.

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2 Responses to Vegetable Sex

  1. Eden says:

    I’ve seen hardly any bees around my garden, so I decided to do this with my cucumbers this year. Not nearly as easy as zucchini, with cukes’ tiny flowers!

    • MikeH says:

      Hi Eden,

      It was the lack of bees in our squash patch in 2008 that got us thinking about keeping bees. We had lots of flowers but no fruit. Are you hand pollinating a lot of cukes or just a few just in case? If you’re only doing a few, it’ll be interesting to see how many Mother Nature does and how many you do.

      Regards,
      Mike

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