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Helping Squash Make Sweet Love

I learned something this morning. I already knew that you don't have to rely on airborne pollinators like bees to connect the dots between your flowering plants. For instance, I'd heard of people using paintbrushes to pollinate their plants, but I had not witnessed hand pollinating myself.

Eliza invited me to come see the process she's been using with her squash. It doesn't involve paintbrushes or special gear.

  1. First find your female blossom that it open and ready to be pollinated. The boy flowers and the girl flowers look different (learn more at this site). Also, if it's already been pollinated you can look at the base of the flower to see if there is already "fruit" there that is growing — which will save you the job of pollinating it.

  2. Next you have to find the boy flower. In squash, the plant may have both genders of flower. But in some conditions, a plant may not have what you are looking for, so you'll have to look at the other plants in your garden and find a squash plant with the right parts. In this case, we walked out to the field and Eliza had some bigger starts that had been planted last week and found one with a pretty new flower that would do the trick. Then she removed the petals so she could use the male part like a magic wand.

  3. Pluck the male flower and bring it over to the female flower. I could make a joke here about putting on some Barry White music or some Marvin Gaye to set the mood, but Eliza would likely roll her eyes (bad jokes are not allowed on the blog), so come on guys, let's get serious! Open the petals of the female flower and gently rub the inside parts together. You don't need to get too crazy because it just takes one grain of pollen (sperm) to fertilize one egg.

And that's it. Pretty down to earth. Sex with squash doesn't have to be some romantic mystery. It's just about getting the right flowers together.

Important note:

  • The two squash plants don't have to be the same exact variety of squash. The fruit will be a mix of both. The squash be identical to what you expect with the exception that the seeds inside that squash will be a mix of the two plants. So the fruit from the child plant could be a wild wackadoo hybrid squash. Now, maybe you are into that kind of thing. If you are, you have an exciting world of genetics to explore.

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