Where Have All My Pollinators Gone?

This year has been pretty good so far for our gardens. Our raised boxes are flourishing and even the rows that have tough soil are doing better than I thought they would. Our lettuce harvest has been abundant with romaine and bib heads that are enormous. Even with the late frosts and some bug issues, the majority of the garden is looking really good. Other than treatments with some compost tea all around and Epsom salt sprays for my peppers and tomatoes, we haven’t needed to do anything but water. That is, of course, if you don’t count hand- pollinating.

While we have planted a variety of flowers with the veggies in hopes of drawing more beneficial bugs to the plot, and even released near to a thousand lady beetles, we have had difficulty in getting a good amount of pollinators to take up residence here. The result was many blooms, but no or shriveled/deformed fruit. So, what to do? Well, sex your plants up obviously.

Some plants get by without needing the male female transfer, but those known as cucurbits have a male flower and a female flower that need some interaction. Cucurbits include squash, melons, cucumbers, and pumpkins. When you are running into the issues I described there is no need to worry. You can give your plants some sexual therapy and save the day. You need a paint brush and to know the difference between your boys and girls. Boys have an anther, a fuzzy and dusty single center to their flower. Girls have a stigma, not fuzzy, not dusty, but smooth and almost looks like a hand making the gesture in Italian to eat. Take your brush, dip it into the anther and the pollen will cling to the hair. Next, move to your female flowers and brush the pollen onto the stigma. Boom, you just made plant love. This should help to get good fruit from your female flowers even if you have zero natural pollinators. Just make sure to act quickly, you won’t have days and days to make the love connection.






Do you have a tried and true tip for your garden?


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