Alright, so here is the deal. If you've ever had a garden or grown vegetables or anything of that nature... you've heard about pollinating and pollinators. Pollinating is basically the transfer of pollen from a male bloom to a female "ovary" in order to "fertilize" a plant. AKA produce fruit. This is how we get those juicy melons, squashes, tomatoes, and all the other beauties that come in our gardens.
I was having a hard time with my squashes shriveling up and I had no idea why. I had this problem last year, and really just thought it was from too much nitrogen in the soil.
Well, guess what... I learned that it was mainly because these babies weren't getting pollinated!
I sent a quick photo to my garden guru friend Sylvie, in Canada, and she confirmed!! (Find her on Instagram @smanderstrom. She's amazing and has the most beautiful garden.) Sylvie hand pollinates a lot of her garden, and so I had to learn to do the same!
If this is something that you are interested in, FIRST you have to be able to tell a male flower from a female flower.
The male flower comes off of a skinny stem, and the female flower comes from the "fruit" bulge (for squashes anyway). Connected to the bottom of the female flower is what would be called the "ovaries" of the flower.
The male flower has one "stamen" which creates and collects the pollen. The female flowers have multiple "stigma" in them which accept the pollen and help your beautiful veggies thrive.
The pollinators then come and help move around the pollen from the make to the female bloom. This is called pollination! Hooray!
When the birds and the bees fail to do their job, or just miss your flowers, this is where your hands come in.
Take the male flower and remove the petals. Take the stamen from this flower and rub it onto the female stigma, and there you go! You did it! You just pollinated your plants. Congratulations.
The best time to do this is in the morning, as that is when the flowers are open and sunbathing.
If you want to learn more about squash anatomy THIS ARTICLE was super helpful for me.
This has helped my squash plants tremendously, along with others! I hope it helps yours too!