Friday, July 04, 2008

You have to promise not to laugh ...



You have to promise not to laugh .... OK? I'm proud. Over the last couple of weeks I've been harvesting my first ever balcony-grown vegetables. Here they are - all six of them.


I said, don't laugh. And anyway they weren't the only ones. We've had another six since then, and there at least six more on the way. OK, OK - we've not quite reached self-sufficiency and the supermarket hasn't gone out of business. But it's a start. And I really was ridiculously proud of myself. They were cooked together with a large portion of self-satisfaction.


The vegetable garden is still coming on, but I'm having a few problems with the sex life of my zucchini (you're not laughing, remember?). They're blooming like mad, but they're the most prudish flowers I've ever come across. They seem to spend most of the time firmly clamped shut, apparently with the same attitude to reproduction as the headmistress of a Victorian girls' school. And then, I can't tell the difference between the male flowers and the females. I'm out there daily with my little paintbrush playing at being a bee - but if the bees know what they're supposed to be doing, I certainly don't. Just spread the pollen around a bit, that's my motto. With any luck sooner or later there'll be a telltale bulge, but if anyone knows of any clear photos on the net which show the difference, do let me know. I've been staring mystified at fuzzy pics which state authoritatively that they show the male or female flower, but they look just the same to me.


Everything else edible has succumbed. The salad leaves collapsed, the oregano turned brown and died, as did the rosemary, and the mint and basil have been devoured by caterpillars. And that's just the vegetable garden. Oh well, the false security of the long, cool spring is obviously over. From now on it's back to hot, sticky pest and disease-ridden summer reality ....


12 comments:

Muppet said...

With squash flowers it's easy to tell the female flowers because they have a baby squash behind them - once they've been pollinated then the flower falls off and the fruit starts to swell.

It's not uncommon for the plant produces only male flowers to start with, so you might just need to be patient and wait for some female flowers to appear.

Nancy J. Bond said...

I would never laugh at your beans! I'd rather have those six beans, freshly picked, than some of the weeks-old produce you often see in the supermarkets. :) Enjoy!

chaiselongue said...

I haven't seen any photos of male and female courgette flowers, but their stems do look quite different. The male flowers just have a stem, whereas the female ones have a definite tiny courgette behind them. I've found that the first flowers are usually male, so maybe you've been trying to fertilise male flowers! Female ones should follow. I'll try to put some photos of the two on my blog in the next day or two. Hope this helps!
The beans look lovely - nothing like the taste on ones you've grown yourself, is there?

Fern said...

I just consulted my copy of Bountiful Container (by McGee & Stuckey) and they said basically the same thing as Muppet and Chaiselounge. The first flowers are usually male, followed by female flowers with baby squashes at the base of the flower.

Green thumb said...

oooo! Those beans are so cute. Dear Sue I hope you resolve the sex problems of zuchhinis pretty soon, as far as the head mistress of the victorian school is concerned, despite prohibition, I am laughing...can't help it, I am still laughing. OMG what a cute post!

patientgardener said...

Well done - I have vegies in pots so I know how thrilling it is to pick some crops no matter how small

Phil said...

This picture is a male flower..notice the long stem it is attached to..

http://www.flickr.com/photos/found_drama/37699660/

This is a female blossom..notice how it is growing next to the main stem and no long stem like the male..

http://www.flickr.com/photos/phflee/244282815/

You will have male blossoms opening before the female. Eventually as the season progresses things will even out and you will be looking for people to give your squash to. The way to tell between the male and the female blossoms. The male blossoms open on a stem 3 to 6 inches from the main stem of the plant. The female blossoms are tight to the stem.

To hand pollinate squash:
Pinch off a freshly opened male bloom (it has the pollen) and rub it's pollen on the sticky protruding part of a freshly opened female bloom (has little baron fruit at its base). Do this in the early morning hours.

Aunt Debbi/kurts mom said...

I didn't laugh, I really didn't. I choked it back, but almost lost it with the visual of you artifically insiminating a zucchini.

Belen said...

Congratulations!!! They look very beautiful and delicious.

Sue Swift said...

Thanks everybody, especially to those of you who contributed to my sex education ...
Phil - the photos were really helpful, and yes - I think I've been cross pollinating the little boys. And even I know you don't get babies like that. But there are lots of little buds far lower down so maybe those will be female. If we get some zucchini, I shal think of you all as i eat them!

Sunita said...

Sue, I'm sorry, but I have to admit that this was one of the funniest blogs I've read. I promise to supress it to goofy smiles but please excuse me if a little giggle escapes once in a while... or even a guffaw !
In addition to what Phil advised, I've heard of people who tie a small plastic bag over the hopefully-in-production female flower.
I've never had to do this for my plants ... one of the few advantages of living in a hot, tropical country.

Phil The Gardener said...

With the post I did here for you Sue, I did a video on my site at http://www.philthegardener.com/squash-blooms/
I sure caught some remarks from my readers about not knowing there were male and female blossoms on the squash family plants.

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