Yep. This is an exciting new discovery for me. No, it is not what you think! I’m talking about gardening matters. It seems that a lot of my cucumber and squash plants are not producing a great deal this year, (with several small squashes not developing much before falling off) and I could not figure out why. On the other hand, I’ve done a better job of building sun shields for them, to stop them being fried by the intense heat over the course of a hot day. I now think that maybe these things are connected. First of all, I’m not seeing a lot of bees of any sort in the garden, and so I wonder if it is simply that there’s not a lot of pollination going on. Couple this with the fact that the sunscreens (some quite low) are probably hiding them from some bees that might be passing by, I’ve begun to wonder if it is time to help things along a bit. So… I’ve started pollinating the flowers manually! We shall see if this helps. (Although there is a limit to how much help this can be for the cucumbers – they are not producing a great deal of female flowers for some reason, so there could be a different problem…)
So what you can see in the pictures is some of the pollination in action. There are both male flowers and female flowers on the plants. You can tell them apart since the female flowers have at their base a tiny version of the cucumber or squash they will become. For the cucumbers I picked a male flower and pulled off the petals all the way down to the central core where the pollen is, and then touched it a bit (carefully!) on the core of the female flower. For the squashes, I got a tiny little paintbrush from my drawing tools and moved it back and forth on the central pillar of the male flower to get some tiny flecks of yellow pollen on it, and then I dipped the brush down into the centre of the female flower, hopefully getting some pollen onto the right places.
Then I smoked a cigarette. — Kidding!
We shall see if this helps with yield.