Tuesday, February 9, 2010
The Birds n' Bees About Gourds
Gourds have male and female flowers, getting to know them is just part of the fun of growing gourds. The male flowers will arrive on your plants first and sometimes you think there will be no female flowers at all and then one day, viola' there they are. The male flowers are on tall shafts and have small yellow stamen, the female flower will have fat yellow pistils. You can let insects do the pollination or you can help. There is more than one way of course. Some folks take a small soft brush and gently wipe it over the stamen of the male flower and then wipe it over the pistils of the female flower. You can also snap off the male flower, turn it upside down and place it onto the female flower and gently thump the male flower to release the pollen onto the female pistils. If you look closely at the flowers in the photo you will see that under the top center flower is the actual little gourd. This way you will know what your gourd plant is producing as gourds are notorious for cross pollination. Hard shell gourds such as the ones in the photo have white flowers and open their blooms mostly at night and you cannot rely on the bees to pollinate for you. I have seen hummingbird moths at the gourds in the evening and I have never tried to kill all the bugs that are wanting to feed on the gourds, I need some of them in order to have a harvest.