Thursday, July 15, 2021

Butternut Squash Flowers

The big butternut squash plant has gotten over six feet long now and finally we have a female flower.  At first I was thinking it was pollinated already and forming the squash.  I haven't grown these in such a long time.

In case you didn't know, there are two kinds of flowers on a squash plant (as well as many other plants). Both of them can grow on the same vine but there are many more male flowers than female flowers.  As you can see the female flower has the fruit already started, just waiting for pollination to produce seeds.

The male flowers are the ones you eat.  Just wait for them to get big enough, snip it off, and fry it up, usually with some sort of batter.

The cantaloupe also has a female flower on it.  The little melon ball is barely noticeable though.

The large squash plant also has some new runners near the base of the plant.  It's preparing to really take off with 3 new shoots.  The plan is now to just keep watering and feeding it.  Adding a little more dirt to help with the growing root system it needs to keep up.

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Pollinators

Most people think of pollinators and think of butterflies or bees.  There are so many more out there though.

Today I got a picture of this fly pollinating the cilantro plants.  He carefully went from flower to flower, not even trying to get into the house.

The reason creatures pollinate plants is interesting though.  I can think of four off the top of my head.  The first one, being obvious of course, is nectar.  They go for a quick bite to eat and pollen gets on them for their meal ticket.

A not so obvious one is they think they are going for a different meal like the case with the corpse flower.  It smells like rotting meat and attracts all kinds of things.

Another form of trickery is found in an orchid.  It mimics a wasp on it's flower luring in other wasps to mate with it.  Instead it's of course a flower and gets pollen for it's trouble.  Not at all what was promised but this wasp is a little gullible and does it again.

The fourth one that comes to mind will strike you as obvious, people.  No trickery here though.  People often pollinate plants for a variety of reasons, food, flowers, or just reproduction like trees they can sell.

So next time you see a fly and want to squish it, think about the plants it helps pollinate and think if it's really a good idea or not.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Garden Carrot

This year we have a little patio garden.  This carrot is the only one that grew from the seeds we planted.  Unfortunately it was in a fairly shallow pot and you can tell how deep from the size of it.  Carrots only grow as long as they have room to do so.  One year we had a garden that had a lot of carrots but only so much height.  It wasn't because they were in a pot but instead the dirt we brought in and put over the existing soil (mostly clay) only went so deep.  When it hit the hard soil underneath they stopped getting bigger.

It's interesting how plants grow only where they find room.  I heard of one way to grow potatoes was putting them in hay.  It eliminates the natural pests you get since there is no soil and at harvest time you just jostle the hay around until it releases the potatoes. Trying something similar but I have very little the potato is trying to grow in.  Might have to go get more hay.

The rest of the garden though is doing pretty well.  Lots of watering, 2-3 gallons a day, but in the scheme of things not really a problem.  The larger pot is growing the much better squash plant of course.  The bigger volume lets it retain more water and less heat gets to the plant as a result.  I think I will need to shade the plants as summer gets along to keep them happy.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Dung Beetle

I always imagined a dung beetle was bigger than this.  It was barely the size of a pencil eraser. These guys are vital in the conversion of waste into usable material.  They are like the insect version of a mushroom.

Much like any other bug, if you see one of them then there are likely thousands of them in the area. Like the saying that you are never more than ten feet from a spider, they're everywhere.