Squash Sex

10 points if you read the word “squash” as a verb.

Every morning I go out to see how everyone faired in my garden during the night. I am now carrying Q-tips in my back pocket just in case there is a sex emergency among my squash plants. My initial foray into squash sex this summer was successful and resulted in one little sunny delight squash that I ate last night.

Squash sex is simple — particularly compared to human sex. You just reach into the little boy flower with a Q-tip and grab a dollop of pollen from the stamen and put it onto the female’s carpel.

Last year I had my first experience with squash sex when my Aussie pumpkins refused to coordinate the blossoming of male and female flowers. I was apprehensive that my touch was too harsh and human for those little privates but no. After a brief apprenticeship with a bee last summer, I got the buzz (sorry, had to do that), “Gimme that pollen, damn you!!! The Queen is waiting! This is life or death!” I realized that I needed to be a little more assertive with my Q-tip.

Squash are “free pollinators” meaning they’ll have sex with any similar species growing in the area. Squash and pumpkins, for example, or two kinds of squash. Some people hand-pollinate their squash so the seeds remain “pure.” I don’t plan to save the seeds. I just want vegetables this summer.

I went out to take the featured photo, and it seems that this morning my services won’t be needed. Just one lone boy smiling at the day. The little girl behind him isn’t ready to bloom.

If you’re interested and haven’t tried squash sex yourself, here’s an informative blog. Squash Flowers – Awkward Botany


22 thoughts on “Squash Sex

  1. I tried that method last year but, as you say, trying to co-ordinate the male and female flowers was difficult. I believe the male can pollinate up to six females. I thought I’d hit upon a plan when I read that pollen can be stored for up to six months by refrigeration/freezing. Unfortunately not for squash! This year I have left them to get on with things themselves. They are all squashed into one very large pot and the bees have been busy. Three courgettes so far and more to come – and without me having to lift a finger, Q-tip or blusher brush!

    • 🙂 You’re lucky! Or they’re lucky. I used one male to pollinate three girls yesterday. I think if I had more than two plants I wouldn’t have to be involved in their early morning escapades…

  2. Well, this post comes under the category (for me) of: you learn something new every day! Fascinating. I will never look at a Q-tip the same way again. Distinguishing a male and a female squash flower would be new territory for me – if I had a vegetable garden. I remembered this phrase from your previous post, so no 10 points for me. 🙂

  3. was pondering this very subject as I was perusing my garden this morning. A few willing blossoms. We shall see. In general, I have successfully left things to the bees, who are buzzing nearby on blooming oregano.

  4. This explains so much! Sparky planted 2 varieties of summer squash and some acorn squash that is not looking “normal”. It is more like a pattypan squash and the garden next to ours has pattypan and zucchini growing.

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