If squash/zucs are not 'hilled,' should they be hand-pollinated?

mmqchdygg(Z5NH)June 18, 2009

I've only ever planted the traditional hills with 6 plants in a circle. Assuming that the reason they tell you to do this is for the male/female pollination thing, if my setup is totally different this year (see pix below), and spacing is more towards SFG, should I consider hand-pollinating where the plants are spaced far apart instead of together?

First pic shows the unplanted section (it's the one in black plastic shaped like an "L." This pic taken from the opposite end from the second pic)

Second pic: White square is the 'L-shaped' area in which they are planted, and red dots are at each plant.

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You shouldn't have to hand-pollinate, as long as both male and female flowers are open at the same time. Hilling them doesn't seem to affect the pollination, and neither does the distance between plants. (Each plant can pollinate itself.) It has more to do with the blooms and how many bees you have. Let the bees do their work and don't worry about it! Just try not to water from overhead once the flowers open, otherwise you're washing away the pollen. Good luck!

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 11:03AM
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I don't know if I'd exactly hill in a SFG anyway. Things get WAY too full way too close together and it's hard to get inside the plants to pick off those bugs. I would make sure to have two plants to ensure the possibility of having males and females open at the same time, but the bees will take care of everything else.

If it still makes you nervous, take a fine brisled brush or a make-up applicator brush and tranfer the pollin from the male to female flowers yourself. After a while, though, you'll see the bees are doing it all by themselves.

Here is a link that might be useful: The Corner Yard

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 1:55PM
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dan_staley(5b/SS 2b AHS 6-7)

should I consider hand-pollinating where the plants are spaced far apart instead of together?

Not if you have bees. Hills have nothing to do with pollination ability.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 2:24PM
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excellent! Thanks. I apparently missed the memo about there being both male & female flowers on the SAME plant.

I thought (like with holly bushes) you either had a male squash plant or a female one, which is where I was going with the way you plant hills...thinking that when you plant in hills, you put 5 or 6 seeds in a circle, so each seed would either be a male or a female plant...that was obviously WRONG.

Thanks for setting me straight.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2009 at 4:00PM
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I don't know if helps, but through trial and error here is what I have learned. . .
Most cucs, zucs, and squash have female and male blooms. The male usually out-number female 10:1
You can use a small water color brush but this does not authenticate nature. Bee pollination happens two-fold. First, transfering pollen flower to flower on their visits. Second, the aggressive flapping of their wings or 'buzzing' aggitates the pollen moving it from flower to flower. Buzzing causes pollen to fall and spread through the air.
The Paint brush technique replicates the first, but only has about 35% success.
To replicate the second and more efficient buzzing, hold the base of the plant with one hand to keep from up-rooting or breaking. Next, give a firm but gentle shake with your other hand. Choose a spot further up the plant where you feel comfortable and confident that you will not harm it. This shake should not be large or violent in motion. You should see the pollen movement as well, but look closely.Just remember, you are replicating a bee, not a bird. lol
Female flowers have the fruit (cucs, squash, etc.) just below the gender stem and flower. Males have a cylindrical stem continuing to the plant rather than the 'bulb'.
I do hope this helps without information overload!
Best of luck!
p.s. do this in the morning so the pollen does not dry up in the heat of the sun!
sorry about spelling errors!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 11:12AM
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I've been setting out cukes in single rows and letting em go where they want to and I can't give them away fast enough.When I was a kid my Dad swore by the hill method but I never was too impressed with the results.One year we planted them in a row and they produced like crazy!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 4:46PM
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gumby_ct(CT it says Z5)

I thought you could just use the stamen - no tools required.

Here is a link that might be useful: Flower Anatomy

    Bookmark   June 22, 2009 at 9:32PM
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