Problems Growing Zucchini

Q: Am I the only gardener in the US who doesn't have enough zucchini squash? I planted four zucchini plants in my raised-bed garden, thinking that they would produce plenty for my small family. The plants have grown well and are quite large, but have so far only produced about 10 squashes this whole summer (this is a total count, not 10 from each plant).

Most of the flowers seem to fall off before they get pollinated. Any suggestions? I live in Albuquerque, NM, so plants get plenty of sun, and I water them regularly.

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Lynn

A: Lynn,

If flowers appear but you don't get much fruit, it's probably due to a lack of pollination. This sometimes happens if bee activity is low in your area or you've had a stretch of cooler weather. My suggestion would be to consider pollinating them by hand. The first flowers to bloom are usually the males and they do not form any fruit. The female flowers are identifiable by a swelling at the base of the flower. To pollinate by hand, you can cut off the male flowers, remove the petals, and rub the stamen of the male flowers against the stigmas (the sticky part at the ends of each pistil) on the female flowers. If you prefer, simply transfer the pollen from male flower to female flower with a small artists paint brush or Q-Tip. Keep track of which stems you have pollinated by tying a twist tie of piece of string around the stem. Also, make sure to harvest the squash when they are small (about 3-4 inches across and 4-6 inches long) to increase the plant's productivity.

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Ellen Brown

More Answers:

Problems Growing Zucchini

Zucchini often produces far more male flowers than female ones. The males are those on the long stems and the females are on short stems with a small bulb (the ovary) right under the flower. If you don't see many female blossoms, cut off the tip end of the vine. This reminds the plant of its main job - to make seeds to reproduce itself. (08/08/2005)

By Beth

Problems Growing Zucchini

We live in Southern NV. We've not had a garden in several years, due to health problems, but when we did, we never had any problems growing zucchini. Actually we had so much and couldn't give it away. We'd water it in the early morn and at sundown. This was only with 6 plants! Hope this helps. Maybe someone is taking your blossoms to fry & eat? I hear fried squash blossums are quite tasty. (08/10/2005)

By badwater

Problems Growing Zucchini

I have a different problem in Sterling Heights, MI (just North of Detroit). The Zucchini grow to about 3-4 inches long and about an inch thick. At that point the tips start turning yellow and then the fruit rapidly rots back all the way to the stem. It's been hot this summer so I've been watering every other day. The soil is a bed and is well drained. I only harvested about 12 fruit from 4 plants this year. (09/12/2005)

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By David Osinski

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