There are healthy vibrant flowers on the plants but in the past an abundance of flowers often resulted in only one or two mature fruit. Squash are not self-pollinating they rely on fertilization either by wind, bees or by hand. And all squash plants are monoecious, meaning they have both male and female flowers on the same plant but only female flowers develop into fruit. The male flowers are there simply to pollinate the female and there are usually three to four male flowers to each female flower. To identify the female you look for a swelling just below the base where, if successfully pollinated, the squash will develop. I have to say this swelling was not very obvious and you need to be there the day the flowers open so I missed half of them. If you can identify the female then you can help the process along by removing newly opened male flowers and gently swirling their stamens against the female flowers and bees were also helpfully busy too on a recent sunny day. But I resorted to an artist’s paintbrush and in a cavalier manner transferred the pollen relying only on chance encounters with possible female recipients. It seems to have worked and pollinated fruit is steadily developing.
The dwarf French beans ‘Purple Queen’ sown directly in the ground three weeks ago (there’s still time) are up and looking healthy. I spread coffee ground over the soil so that as the seedlings emerged they’d be protected against slugs and snails and it seems it has worked.
This week I prepared a seed bed ready to sow Cavola Nero, spinach beet, flat-leaf parsley, coriander, Swiss chard and kohl rabi all in loose rows. When the seedlings are up they will be separated and transplanted in late-Summer.
Several plot holders on the allotment have sown patches of ground with attractive flowers. I love this Californian poppy ‘Carmine King’ offset by pale grey leaves.
Knautia macedonica ‘Red Knight’ lines the side of a poly-tunnel.
And on my patch a bed of Cosmos ‘Sensation’ has just opened and the bees are very delighted.
This week a pot of nasturtium leaves, Alchemilla mollis and Verbena bonareinsis were picked for the kitchen table…