Tonight I feel like a real city slicker - I just found out where cucumbers, zucchini, and squash come from. Of course I know that they grow on viney rambly plants. I didn't, however, know the difference between male and female plants.
My zucchini plants have been blooming for the past week and half, and I was beginning to get concerned because every single blossom has had its day in the sun, shriveled, and promptly dropped off the vine.
Well, I had been meaning to do some research on pollinating cucurbits, seeing as how I'm pretty sure that there is a definite lack of pollinators up here on the balcony. Tonight I was tapping around on the computer and suddenly, EVERYTHING MADE SENSE - the reason my zucchini flowers were dropping like flies was because they were MALE. I rushed from the computer to the garden and gave my plants a closer look.
Yup, there were two distinct types of flowers on both my zucchini and my cucumbers, which have just started to bloom in the past day or so. The male flowers looked like a normal flower...
...but the female flowers had the beginnings of a fruit behind the bloom...
The cucumbers have about 10 "men" and only one "woman" - how's that for a ratio! I took one of my small paintbrushes and made sure that she was pollinated really well. Hopefully the plants will put out some more females to even things out a bit.
The zucchini "men" are a bit premature, I'm afraid to say - they have been blooming while the "women" are still small and not ready to blossom yet. I guess the plant world imitates the human world more than we know.
The crookedneck yellow squash are on the verge of blooming - I'm interested to see how those flowers compare to the other two.
Soooooooo, this whole time, my zucchini flowers were SUPPOSED to be blooming and dropping. Those poor guys were just looking for a nice girl to take to the dance. Another couple of days and there's going to be a real shin-dig going on!