Last year, I planted cucumbers along with the requisite Cherry 100 tomatoes and both veg burst out of the ground, growing at a rapid pace. I was rubbing my hands with delight at the prospect of both in a salad at the same time.
The tomatoes, the only variety I had up til this point been able to grow with any success, were pollinating well and doing exactly as I prayed they would.
The cucumbers were a whole other matter. For starters, I had planted approx 7 of them. Odd number, yes, but the 6-pack had given me lagnaippe and I stuck that in the ground as well. So, off they grew and quickly appeared lovely lovely flowers. Only..... they looked so odd. I leaned in for a closer peer and my eyes spied something I never noticed before. On many of the "flowers" still unopened were tiny gerkins! Let me clarify: between the stem of the flower and the flower itself was this tiny miniscule cucumber and I thought that was weird....... I looked closer still and found that almost every one was this way. Very strange. I thought the flower came first and then the cuc after pollination. How that happened was anybody (else's) guess but I knew bees had something to do with it. And I let it drop. I did ask a few people I respected if they were familiar with this phenomenon but they all to a man said I was crazy. The flower comes first. I must be hallucinating. (I HATE it when people doubt my veracity or sanity)
As the days passed, I found that many of these tiny wonders were turning brown. They shriveled. They dropped. A few, a precious few and not particularly appetizing at that, grew into proper cucumbers and I was disheartened by the whole event. Thank God the tomatoes grew beautifully or I would possibly given up gardening totally at that point.
So flash-forward to last Thanksgiving and I put this whole episode in front of B-I-L Terry for an explanation. I already believe he thinks I'm only slightly above "useless" and the look he gave me confirmed any doubt on that score.
What I saw was the female flower and apparently lots of them. What I saw so very little of were any male flowers. I need both if I had any hope of a crop. In addition: If bees were not helping matters, I could always be the bee and get a paintbrush and go around spreading the pollen for them.
And here I am now, buzzing around the veg beds, wanting to pollinate and keeping a weather eye open on the new budding crops. What did I get this year? Males.
Nothing but males. All from seeds mind you. There are again approx 6 plants going to town on my water and fertilizer and not a female in sight. I did plant another row in another bed a few weeks ago..... thank God again for that because at this rate, Vlazic is going to get rich off us once more this summer.
But having had my eyes opened into this new strange world of vegetable pornography, I have been really focusing on the flowers that come with the squashes and it's amazing! We planted a few crook-necked, zucchini and butternuts and the mini squash is so cool to look at. I have lots of the butternuts and haven't seen any males yet. Some of those minis do look like they have grown somewhat and others have fallen off the vine so I ASSUME there have been insects messing around in there and I wonder where the pollen has come from. It's going to be a heartbreak if I don't get any of those amazing winter squashes out there. The plants are so healthy looking.
The crook-necks are ok...nothing spectacular (yet) and we've lost more of the females because not enough males were open at the same time and the zuccs are still to young to make a prediction of. bzzzzzbbbzzzz C'mon guys! I need a little co-operation here!
A few new tomato volunteers have appeared as well and we having been eating carrots and beets fresh out of the ground. And spinach! The kale is about done in and the beans are just going into flower now. COOL.
One last delight. The fig tree I planted last year and thought had died leafed out last month and today I see about 5 figs..... shhhhh don't spook them!