Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Blossoms of Summer Squash

I get asked how to tell male and female squash blossoms apart quite often. Our customers love squash blossoms as one of summers delicate pleasures. But they fear that each flower sacrifices a future baby squash. Is it greedy to consume the flowers and some how cut off the legacy of a future zucchini or patty pan.

Well that thinking is just wrong. Not all blossoms turn into a squash and we can eat these blossoms with full knowledge that we are not damaging the lineage of the plant. Here is a brief lesson in the physiology of the summer squash.

There are two genders of blossom: male and female. Only the female blossom matures into a zucchini or patty pan. The male is there to fertilize the female and resides on a long stem. The female is attached to the tip of the soon to be baby ssquash. But there are many many of the male blossoms and only a few can handle all the female blossoms. When we pick baby zucchini and patty pan, pick them so small that they haven't opened yet so it really doesn't matter, we pick both types of blossoms. But there are more male blossoms.

So that is the long and short of it. If you are trying to grow zucchini seed you would have to leave a few. But otherwise you are doing no harm to pick either.

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