Sunday, July 22, 2007

Vestal Virgins

It's so heartening to see the first female flowers on the squash plants as there can be a long succession of male only, particularly early in the season. And you can already begin to see evidence of the shape, colour and markings of the mature fruit in the unfertilized ovaries.
John Loudon, a best selling garden writer at the turn of the 19th century commented on the growing of squash that " The seeds of pumpkin are scattered in the field, when planting corn, and no further trouble is necessary than throwing them into the wagon when ripe."
While I know this to be essentially true, I still go and check on them daily and wring my hands when the fruit doesn't develop but just turns yellow and drops off. Some plants wait until late August to start producing a real fruit. I have a couple of plants that have only managed one or two male flowers so far. Some of the factors affecting flower production and sexual expression such as temperature, daylength and light intensity, I know I can do nothing about anyway. So I'll take comfort in the evidence of past harvests.

No comments: