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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Squash Fails to Fruit Without Active Bees

Summer Squash Failing to Fruit Due to Lack of Pollination. Photo by reader.
Q. I have had great success growing both yellow and green squash in my garden for the past five or six years.  Last month I harvested about ten nice pieces, but in the past couple of weeks they have all been turning very hard and the yellow pieces have turned dark and almost orange.  I have attached a couple of pictures of both the fruit and the plants.  Please let me know if you any suggestions.
A. Your summer squash looks nice. You will get more blemish free fruits with twice to three times a week sprays of insecticidal soaps including spraying the undersides of the leaves. The lack of squash development is due to poor pollination most likely due to cool weather and poor bee activity.

You can attract more bees to the area by planting plants that bees love and flower at the times your vegetable garden needs pollination. Bee loving plants include many of the herbs which are allowed to flower. These might include rosemary, basil, lavender, oregano and thyme to name a few. Woody ornamental plants typically flower for short periods of time but there are some like Texas Ranger, brooms like Scotch broom, lantana, verbena, and others. Go to your nursery and see what is in bloom, particularly reds, purples, pinks and start planting.

Some gardeners like to hand pollinate squash for better setting of fruit or if you want to save seed from certain squash for planting next year. If you want to save seed and you don't prevent contamination from other melons or squash then your seed will not come true. Here is a video on hand pollinating squash and some great background on this family of vegetables.


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