Where (plant) Babies Come From

Every spring, gardeners go out to plant. We prepare the soil and carefully bury a tiny seed. We might water, if the soil is dry. Mostly, we watch and wait. We fully expect that seed to germinate and grow to maturity. But what is actually happening beneath the warming soil? What is a seed, anyway? How does it know when to break dormancy and germinate? How does it know which way to grow? Since spring is approaching, I thought I’d write a series of posts on seeds—where they come from, what they are, what happens to make them grow. Continue reading “Where (plant) Babies Come From”

Hand-Pollinating Zucchini

It’s time to learn about sex. Oh, you think you already know all about that? OK, but how much do you know about making baby zucchinis?

Perhaps your zucchini (or other squash) plants are producing plenty of flowers, but no squash. Or, maybe they start to grow little squashes but then the babies turn yellow to brown, get all wrinkled, and fall off. What’s wrong? It’s highly likely the problem involves zucchini sex.

All squash plants (and related crops such as cucumbers) produce two kinds of flowers, male and female. Here’s how to tell them apart:

zucchini-blossom-male-femalecsu-23jul04-lah-033s

Continue reading “Hand-Pollinating Zucchini”