Help! My Baby Squash are Shriveling and Dying!

Standard

It’s disheartening to carefully tend your seedlings, finally spot a tiny squash, only to watch it shrivel up and die. If your little squash are getting wrinkles, and the plant looks otherwise healthy, it’s probably not your fault.

Blame the bees.

There are two types of flowers on a squash plant (this goes for cucumbers and melons too). The male flowers often bloom first, announcing their presence to any bees or pollinators nearby your garden. If the bees do not find your garden in time to transfer the pollen from the male flowers to the female flowers, the squash will not grow to maturity.

This is a male squash flower. Pretty basic.

The female flowers below have a baby fruit at their base. Do you recognize the common vegetables?

female yellow squash flower

female yellow squash flower

female zucchini flower

female zucchini flower

female cucumber flower

female cucumber flower

Little cucumbers are cute and very poky. 🙂

So what do you do if the bees haven’t found your garden yet? You can transfer the pollen yourself.

DSCN4397  DSCN4398

 

All you have to do is take a male flower (I like to tear off the petals to make this easier) and transfer the pollen to a female flower. Some people use a makeup brush, but I don’t like to share my makeup brushes, especially with squash pollen.

Once you see lots of bees buzzing around in the mornings, this won’t be necessary.

This should solve the wrinkly squash syndrome for you. Hopefully you will soon have boatloads of zucchini!

If you are swimming in zucchini or patty pan squash, you should try some Chocolate Zucchini Apple Bread.  It’s really good and a nice way to use all that squash.

Advertisements

13 responses »

  1. Do you know we’re having a bee crisis? they are slowly disappearing in areas where they used to be in abundance (Europe and N America) and yet they are so important for food security, for the pollination process. Can you imagine humans taking male flowers to transfer pollens in a huge field full of squash…that would be so expensive. Thanks for the tip and great weekend to you!

    • Hand-pollinating on a commercial scale would be expensive and terribly time-consuming! Bees and worms are so important to a healthy garden. Hope you have a great weekend as well!

  2. Oh my gosh! I tried for years to grow pumpkins in my garden and they did exactly what you described — shriveled and died. Here I thought it was all me. This gives me hope that maybe I don’t have such a black-thumb afterall.

    • I like to also plant some flowers in my garden. Not only do they help attract pollinators, but they also look pretty. 🙂 I hope you try to grow squash again.

  3. Pingback: Backyard Garden Harvest! | Coffee to Compost

  4. Pingback: Why Does my Cucumber Look Funny? | Coffee to Compost

  5. Pingback: North Florida Gardening: June To-Do List | Coffee to Compost

  6. I keep a q-tip handy and every morning take a check around and see who is up and open and poke around, it’s worked well for me this season!

    • So glad to have you following along with me! I hope you get lots of squash. I like to let my mustard greens flower so they can attract early pollinators to my squash. It doesn’t always work, so it’s nice to know how to pollinate them myself. Happy gardening!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s