Monday, July 9, 2012

Week of July 9 2012 : Blossoms

Here is a photo of a pumpkin blossom. Squash generally have large, delicate and beautiful blossoms but these pumpkin blossoms are gorgeous! They measure over 6" in diameter and have a deep yellow almost orange color.  Restaurants have offered as much as 40 cents per blossom ... maybe that is why they are so beautiful!

Flowering and pollination has always been a mesmerizing aspect of growing. Walking through any large field or orchard during active pollination is certainly a memorable experience. Bees buzz, no doubt, but thousands of bees buzzing almost shake the ground.

This year I approached pollination from another perspective though, because I needed to pollinate seedless watermelons. The challenge is that seedless watermelons cannot pollinate themselves. Typically special pollinator varieties are inter planted with the seedless varieties. The pollinators do not produce marketable watermelons but produce a lot of pollen for an extended period of time.

Being small scale growers we need to maximize our growing space and decided against the pollinators. Instead we chose to inter plant the seedless with seeded watermelons and time the plantings such that the flowering periods would overlap.

The theory has been proven viable although the timings were a few days off. The seeded reached peak blossom about five days before the seedless. Even so there was sufficient overlap to get good set on the seedless.

Another oddity of seedless watermelons is the vines grow continuously throughout the season. Seeded watermelons have vegetative and reproductive phases; vines stop growing during the reproductive phase. But seedless have a vegetative phase only.

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