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all bloom no squash  RSS feed

 
J Monroe
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Any ideas why I have gotten tons of blooms on many different types of squash but hardly any produce? The plants also seem stunted. Same garden and varieties as last year, which had great production. I am wondering if overwatering is a possibility?
 
John Polk
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Squash plants have both male & female flowers. One sex opens a few days before the other.
If you had poor weather, perhaps the pollinators weren't working while both flowers were open.

The native pollinators are in serious decline today.
Do you have farms/neighbors that spray insecticide? That could be the problem.

Serious seed savers often hand pollinate to (a) guarantee better germination, and (b) prevent cross pollinating. Squash families are notorious cross breeders.

Another possibility is excess Nitrogen, or applied to late. This can prolong the vegative stage, thereby 'overriding' the reproduction stage.

 
Cj Sloane
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John Polk wrote:One sex opens a few days before the other.


Does that mean only half the flowers turn into squash?
 
John Polk
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Yeah. The males have pollen, but only the females have an ovary.

 
Cj Sloane
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Hence all the recipes for squash blossoms. I just thought people were overflowing in squash & eating the flowers was a way to stem the tide! Guess I'll have to take a closer look tomorrow.
 
John Polk
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Most people only use the male flower for cooking, as they want the fruits.
The flower is best picked before it opens, so don't get greedy and pick too many.
You still need enough males to open to assure pollination.

I haven't grown squash in a few years, but as I recall, the females opened first, and then a few days later, the males opened. The female is easy to spot, as the ovary produces a large bulb at the base of the flower, whereas the male tapers straight into the stem.


 
Ken Peavey
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The vines will continue producing flowers. The males have uniform stems, the females have rounded, swollen stems. The females will become fruit if pollinated.

Hand Pollination
When both a male and a female flower are in bloom at the same time, pick the male flower (or move the vine). Introduce the male and females flowers (offer wine, cheese) by making them 'kiss'. The stamens and pistils need to contact. Just dab em together a few times.

I've done this with glorious results. The pollen fertilized the eggs which will develop into seeds. Lots of seeds will make for a larger squash if there are sufficient nutrients available. To get more seeds, repeat the kissing thing with the same female flower and another (or several) male flowers. Ideally the male comes from the same cultivar but a different plant. You can use the male flower from the same plant, but this promotes genetic flaws.

You can increase the yield of fruit that have set by removing new flowers as they appear on the vine. Rather than send nutrients to the flowers, it goes to the squash. Summer squash, zukes, cukes, they seem to pollinate pretty well on their own. The winter squash-hubbards and triambles, pumpkins- they seems to respond very well to hand pollination. The winter squash tend to be longer vines, hence a greater distance for the pollen to travel, and they don't have a map.

There are 4 types of squash.
Moschata
Mixta
Maxima
Pepo
One type will not cross breed with another. Within the type, different cultivars will cross breed.

 
Burra Maluca
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Have to post quick - the sun isn't on the solar panels yet and I'm nearly out of battery...

This is a male flower -



And below is a female flower -



I usually find that we get oodles of male flowers showing up before the first females appear.
 
Craig Dobbson
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Great pics Burra! What type of squash is it? Butternut?


I find that in areas where the plants are stunted, I get smaller plants and mostly male flowers. The plants probably "know" that there isn't enough nutrient/water/sun to produce a fruit so the limited energy is spent on making male flowers to pollinate nearby females that may be in better shape. Seems like perfectly good strategy to me. Just a theory though. The males will open first and then a few days later you'll see females opening up.
Every year I save all the seeds from my squashes and use them to plant new garden/forage areas. I love to see the crazy genetic combinations from all the cross pollination. This year I got a yellow squash that tasted like a melon, a hard shelled zucchini with yellow flesh, a white pumpkin, a spaghetti squash with no pulp (just shell and seeds) and tons of other wackiness. It all goes to the pigs and chickens so I'm not worried about getting Ideal crosses. I Just like to see how nature works her way out of a bag.
 
Sandrine Coosemans
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Old topic, but since I seem to have the same problem, I'm just going to revive it (hope that's ok).

Last year, we had plenty of zucchini, squash and pumpkins (we kept giving the zucchini away even).
This year, we've had male flowers since the end of June, but I haven't seen one female flower. Many plants are stunted as well (or died in the beginning of the summer), some are looking beautiful and big... just not producing female flowers.

We are among just a few people around here who don't spray; same thing last year though, that didn't make a difference then. Maybe the wind was different on a day some neighbour sprayed - could this be the reason why there's no female plants? The biggest difference with last year is that it's been quite hot and dry, so we've been watering manually since May (which was when we last had decent rain).
There seem to be fewer bees this year as well, and I'd like to put some beehives up in the fall. Although I'm a bit concerned about the pesticides, but since they're everywhere and other people seem to be keeping bees without problems, I think we're just going to have a try...

I'm a bit discouraged when it comes to growing stuff though - been putting a lot of time into it and all I'm getting is tomatoes that ripen very slowly (aubergine and peppers didn't do too well either this summer - had a great yield of spring stuff but after that it just stopped). Would anybody have any advice?
 
chip sanft
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Sandrine Coosemans wrote:
I'm a bit discouraged when it comes to growing stuff though - been putting a lot of time into it and all I'm getting is tomatoes that ripen very slowly (aubergine and peppers didn't do too well either this summer - had a great yield of spring stuff but after that it just stopped). Would anybody have any advice?


I have three thoughts:

1) Don't give up! I bet that 99% of gardeners will readily admit to having bad years in the garden (the other 1% are still grumpy and don't want to talk about it). Factors beyond your control can vary so much -- whenever I think about it, I'm filled with respect and admiration for farmers.

2) Weather conditions vary. We had a strange weather pattern this year of cool and wet early, followed by a quick heating, then hot and dry (mild drought) for a good six weeks. The results were at first okay and then ... not pretty. Only okra is doing well. If it is your weather conditions, it might be a matter of planting a wide range of veggies (including not just types but also cultivars, as there's a lot of variation) and observing to see what's succeeding, then being sure to include that in your future plantings. If you have neighbors who are doing well, maybe they'd share seed? Or tell you what exactly they're planting? Also, things like organic matter / humus presence can help retain water and top-dressing with mulch can shade your soil.

2) I wonder about your nutrient levels, especially nitrogen. Have you applied compost / manure in sufficient quantities? Getting a good harvest is great but it takes nutrients out of the soil that you need to replace for subsequent years. My best squash harvest this year came from seed I planted directly into the manure pile!
 
Elijah Kim
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Don't give up!  We've been gardening in the same spot for about seven years and we are still learning lessons almost daily.  Some plants will go into a bit of a "survival mode" if temperatures get to high.  If you mix a drought in with that and the plants will definitely be stressed.  Plants are very resilient though, you may still get a crop once it isn't so hot.

Since you had plenty squash last year your soil shouldn't be an issue.  Did you use fertilizer this year or last year?  Is there anything else you may have done differently?  Planted them in a different location?

A few things that we do to help is to use woodchip mulch (back to eden method)in our in ground garden.  Last year we made raised beds, in those I've been using weeds and tree leaves as mulch.  This helps a lot with keeping moisture in the soil(among many other things, like suppressing weed growth) as well as building all the beneficial fungi/bacteria/critters in the soil.  One warning with that is this year (it's been wet) we have had a rise in slugs.  It is only now that the frogs and toads are really moving in to help take care of that issue.  I'm guessing it will take more time for everything to come back into nature's balance.

For pollinators we have noticed this year to be the best for how many different insects are coming in.  I think it takes time for the different insects to figure out where you are growing.  As well we are trying to keep our own seed for the veggies we are growing.  This means many of our plants are left to flower.  Bees love oregano, I'd recommend growing that and letting it flower.  The more flowers you have in your garden the bigger your sign that says "Hey we're over here pollinators!" becomes.  We also learned this year that letting carrots and parsnip go to seed will attract ladybugs.  At first the parsnip had little pest insects all over, I let them have at it since they weren't damaging the seeds at all.  After a while the ladybugs moved in and now they are breeding like crazy.  Radishes are another good one for the amount of flowers they pump out, super easy to save seed from as well.

It's never any fun when your work doesn't result in food to eat, but as long as you learn something from it don't count it as a failure, but an experience.  Don't be afraid to experiment either, we tried three different methods for growing potatoes last year.  Two of those methods I'll never try again, it wasn't a failure though, it was a lesson.

Don't lose hope!  As long as you are putting seeds in the ground, you'll get more out of it than the person who doesn't garden at all.
Hopefully it'll work out once it cools down.
 
Casie Becker
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In my area we have two distinct growing seasons for most 'summer' crops. The summer heat is too intense for tomatoes, peppers, and most squash. In fact, fall in often considered our most productive season.

You might add a little bit of compost or a fertilizer that isn't high in nitrogen (no pee here). Nitrogen fertilizer will encourage the plant to focus it's energy on leaves and stems instead of producing flowers and fruit.

I'm gonna go outside right now to see if my aubergine (we call them eggplant) have even started to flower yet. It's been more than six months but I'm still holding out hope for the fall.
 
Sandrine Coosemans
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Thank you for the reactions! I was never really thinking about giving up, but it’s heartwarming to see we’re not alone in this.

Chip, I’m going to remember what you said about the 1%
I actually had a good year last year without any fertiliser, compost or anything, just a bit of mulch (it was our first year and I just wanted to experiment a bit, didn’t have time for much gardening in between paid work). This year we have all the old-straw-with-horse-manure we want, we’ve got a big pile of it waiting to be used at all times…
The vegetables were planted on the same field as last year, not on the exact same locations. Although last year, a neighbour ploughed the field completely, while this year we only dug trenches and applied mulch. The whole area is very heavily mulched, but maybe the heat was just a bit much… The weeds kind of took over in the spring for a bit and although we got rid of them (used them for mulch), but maybe they depleted the soil more than I anticipated.

Elijah, thanks for the tip on the back to Eden method! I’d never heard of it but just watched a (short) video, sounds interesting… When we get a wood chipper (hopefully after winter, when we’ve got tons of prunings to process) I’d love to try some of that!
We definitely need to do more flowers in the veggie garden - I had many around springtime (and we did have lots of ladybugs), but I didn’t put enough effort into keeping insect-attracting plants out there during the summer. And I’ve never had enough radishes to let them flower, will grow more this year!

I’ve been watching the justin rhodes videos and am planning to let the chickens in to the veggie garden come september (patch by patch, and with electric fencing around it). Have them scratch everything up, spread the mulch and fertilise a bit before I plant and sow…

Casie, what you say about 2 growing seasons is interesting - maybe I should experiment with that as well… Now that I think of it, last year (it wasn’t as dry as now, and I didn’t water extra) the tomatoes did nothing in the middle of summer, but came out abundant in September. Maybe I should just show a bit more patience
Also I’ve been looking at theory a lot, but data like first frost / last frost dates and average rainfall / temperature a month don’t seem to be very reliable around here. So first on my to-do-list: I’m going to see if I’ve got any leftover seeds I could start now and plant out in a few weeks, see if we could get a better result in the after-summer (with a bit more rain, hopefully).
One thing I will definitely do differently next year, is to get out there and sow / plant stuff earlier - and plant more (more different varieties, different plants and just more in quantity). That's probably the biggest lesson I learned this year.

Local farmers want to be very helpful, but they mainly offer to come plough our land (our neighbour was kind of upset that I planted our new fruit trees in the “wrong” pattern as it would make it so much more difficult to plough with his big tractor now) and spray. We sometimes (very quietly) say we'd like to try it without ploughing and spraying, which just makes them either laugh or swear There’s a few people coming in from elsewhere who try permaculture / organic / no-till /…, and we try to share results (and seeds) as much as we can… but as far as I know, we’re the only ones with no zucchini / squash / pumpkins this year…

And Casie, fingers crossed for your eggplant
 
Tyler Ludens
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My eggplant have been equally reticent this year.  I got one fruit, and very few flowers.  New flowers are starting to form with the cooler temperatures.  Also flowers on my peppers.

 
Sandrine Coosemans
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Location: Matarranya, Teruel, Spain
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Just wanted to post an update here - after planting my pumpkin / squash / zucchini plants between the middle of March and early June (I did it in phases, as an experiment) and having male flowers on most plants since the middle of June, I discovered the first female flower on a zucchini plant this morning.
Not sure what changed - we had a bit of rain last week and nights are getting colder...
Maybe there's hope for us yet!
 
Casie Becker
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My squash, melons, tomatoes, several varieties of beans, and eggplant have all started or increased flowering after the recent rain and cooler temperatures. As I understand it, there are actually many plants who won't even start to produce until the day length starts shortening in the fall. It affects what onions we can grow in my area.

The tepary beans are a particular pleasure as I didn't think any of them had survive the initial planting. If they didn't have distinctly different flowers (lovely delicate things) from the kentucky wonder beans, i would have just thought the wonder beans had expanded to cover more of the trellis.
 
Sandrine Coosemans
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Never thought of that - other people around here have been growing lots of veggies all summer (in a few cases they were exactly the same varieties as I have, since we exchanged seedlings). But maybe some zones are more affected by the extra sun / lack of rain than others?
I'm keeping records though, maybe I'll start seeing a pattern in a few years
 
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