Pollination and Flower Eating

Cucurbits usually have both male and female flowers on each plant, but sometimes plants have only one sex of flower, so always plant at least three to be sure they'll fruit. Another potential difficulty is that all cucurbits are bee-pol linated, and bees are sometimes scarce nowadays due to pesticide spraying. Lack of bees results in small or poorly shaped fruit or no fruit. If you have no bees, the only way to get a crop is to hand-pollinate. Hand-Pollinating Cucurbits: There are 2 kinds of blossoms: males and females. You can tell a male by its thin stem. The female is bright yellow and generally has a tiny cucumber or pumpkin or such already formed at its base. When a male blossom is so full of ripe pollen that some will dust off on your fingertip, cut off the blossom and carefully touch the sticky stigmas in the center of each female blossom with this pollen. That solves your problem. There are typically more male than female flowers—although some recently developed plants have only female flowers (are "gynoecious"), and they bear more fruit. Cucurbit Blossom Recipe Ideas: Fried squash blossoms are a traditional native American delicacy. But all the cucurbits have edible blossoms. If you pick only the male flowers (the ones with long, thin, upright stems), you won't be depriving yourself of any fruit.

SQUASH BLOSSOM FRITTERS From Jan Franco, Ham-den, CT, who also wrote me these beautiful words: "I used to work in a library, and I love books and used to buy them when possible—being especially partial to anything with 'complete' in the title. Well, my husband says this is the first truly 'complete' book I have, because it's the only one that includes the most important topic: the Lord, in addition to all the self-sufficiency information. After all, no matter how self-sufficient we may be, we're all dependent on Him ...

"Pick a dozen or so male flowers. Pick at a time when the flowers are open to make sure there are no bees trapped inside. Make a batter from I egg, 2A c. whole wheat (or white) flour, I t. baking powder, and a little milk. Coat the flower with batter and fry in a little oil until lightly browned. Yum. Also can be frozen; warm it in the oven. We use flowers from zucchini or pattypan squash. An Italian favorite!"

<i> STUFFED BLOSSOMS Lane Morgan says, "You also can stuff blossoms with cheese and herbs before frying. Just sort of twist the flower tips into a spiral to hold the stuffing in."

Continue reading here: Eating Cucurbit Seeds

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