Food, food culture, food as culture and the cultures that grow our food

Butternut Update
week 24

June 18, 2007

Hand pollinating butternut squash growing indoors
What, you don’t like my hand job?

Some might call it karmic justice, but I think that I have homosexual butternut squash growing in my living room. Not that there’s anything wrong with that and maybe we can chalk it up to to the fact that I can’t tell the difference between the male and female flowers. My only experiences with growing squash were in a garden full of squash plants, not an indoor garden with 5 butternut, 3 calabash and 2 pumpkin. These butternut flowers all appear to me to be male.

Any expert advice on this subject would be welcome.

Cooperative Extension Service/The University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, Pollination of Vegetable Crops
Diagram from the University of Georgia Department of Pollination, used entirely without permission

It’s completely unnatural, I know, but I just wanted to see what would happen. I have dreams of a garden guest room under an canopy of squash-bearing plants, and of pumpkins curing on the couch in November. Because I’m rennovating in August, I thought, worse-case scenario and this ends up being messy, there’d be no harm done. For example, the bugs that everyone promised me would arrive in herds, have never arrived at all. The bugs do go for the sunflowers which end up needing constant care in the form of de-lousing and ladybug collection from outdoor sources. The ladybugs do bit of grazing, then run off or die. The interior gardening experiment is not an ahimsa-rich one.

Indoor gardening - male flowers only?
Where are the ovaries!?

Possible causes of the all-male flower blight:
1. Maybe the seeds from which I grew the plants are from a hybrid? I got the butternut seeds from a squash that I bought from an organic farmer growing just outside of Amsterdam. Maybe this is what happens when you try to grow the seeds from a hybrid? I’ll ask the farmer next Saturday at the market what ind of plant this was.

2. Maybe the plants have no sense of humor about indoor conditions and have absolutely no sense about their role in the interior decoration of my home. Without any sense of purpose, the butternuts have possibly given up, putting out infertile albeit beautiful flowers. There’s another interior decorating clichĂ© right out the window.

3. Maybe I suck at hand pollination. Another cliché out the window.

4. Maybe because I have so few plants, the male and female flowers simply aren’t open at the same time and I need to preserve the pollen. I haven’t noticed anything resembling a female flower though.

indoor gardening - the squash room divider

In a normal outdoor garden situation you basically ignore your squash because they grow so fabulously all on their lonesome.

Interior garden, growing squash indoors

debra at 13:04 | | post to

1 Comment »

  1. Years late in response, but they are probably all boys because the first half dozen or so on most plants will be boys and the girl flowers show up later in the season. Temperature/disease can also play a role in producing only male flowers

    Comment by Silkiechicken — August 24, 2009 @ 21:31

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