The butternut squash plants have been totally taking over the garden. I planted four in fairly close quarters, and they’re now spilling out of the bed, back in, and up the melon trellises. The melons don’t seem to mind so far, and it is pretty cool to see the huge squash leaves.
Sunday was an exciting day in the garden. Our first butternut squash blossom opened up!
This was the biggest flower I have ever seen in a vegetable garden. It really took me by surprise. It must have also been exciting to the ants, because they were crawling all over it.
I’m not totally convinced we have enough bees in our backyard for adequate pollination, though. I have seen several different types of bees in our yard visiting every once in a while, but right now we don’t have a lot of flowers to draw them in. I am planning on putting in a bed of native flowers along our back fence to hopefully draw the bees in like candy in coming years, but for right now I’m just not totally convinced I have enough.
So, knowing that cucurbits require a pollinator and not wanting to lose my one day of blossoming with this particular flower, I decided to play honeybee and pollinate it myself. You can hand pollinate using a small artist’s paintbrush or a cotton swab, or just by taking an anther from a male flower and brushing it against the stigma of a female flower. I had forgotten about the latter option, so I used a Q-tip.
Hand pollination just involves transferring pollen from the anther in the male flower to the stigma of the female. This was my first attempt, but it didn’t seem to be difficult or complicated. I’m glad I did it early in the day, though, because by 1pm the blossom had already closed up.
It will probably be a while until I can confirm that the pollination worked. If it didn’t, the fruit will abort and shrivel up. But here’s hoping we’ve got butternut squash on the way!