Squash plants need full sunlight

Published 7:49 am Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zucchini and yellow squash are two of my favorite vegetables and each year they do something completely different from the year before.

I can’t even put the blame on the plants, as sometimes there it is a mix-up in the labeling.

In some nurseries where the plants are being secured into the three packs at the end of the labeling process, some are mislabeled.

Now you know why those sweet green peppers were so hot. Wrong label.

Of course there is the weather and those obnoxious critters that are determined to destroy our attempts at a delicious squash dinner.

Squash plants, as you probably already know, must have full sunlight and if not, they will not set fruit.

During their blossoming if a heavy rain occurs, guess what happens? Right, the pollen could be washed from the male flowers leaving the female flowers waiting in vain.

The male flower only opens for a short time and that is usually in the early morning.

This is when a soaker hose is so pertinent.

I am happy to tell you that I too have learned something new about summer squash to pollinate. It’s supposed to be easy once you know the difference. That is, the female blossom will have a tiny squash forming behind the blossom and the male blossoms have just a stalk.

The little squash behind the female blossom is the ovary, and if not pollinated, it will wither and fall off.

Go out in the morning before 10 a.m., with a cotton swab, locate the male flower, gather some pollen by rubbing your swab on the stamen in the center of the flower.

Then rub the pollen onto the pistil in the center of the female blossom. That’s it, more squash than ever. Congratulations.

Gwen holt is a master gardener from Isle of Wight. Her e-mail address is garden@tidewaternews.com. Virginia Master Gardeners are volunteer educators who work within their communities to encourage and promote environmentally sound horticulture practices through sustainable landscape management education and training. As an educational program of Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Master Gardeners bring the resources of Virginia’s land-grant universities, Virginia Tech and Virginia State University, to the people of the commonwealth.