AUTHOR: Julia TITLE: Boys and Girls DATE: 7/17/2009 03:35:00 AM ----- BODY:
Last year, I planted 20 zucchini seeds hoping for a bountiful squash blossom harvest. Any less would not yield enough blossoms for more than just a taste. Part of me was scared with this strategy because of the plants bountiful nature. I envisioned myself peddling zucchini up and down my street. It turns out, I had nothing to worry about.

I did not harvest a single zucchini.

And in case you’re wondering, it’s not because I harvested all the blossoms before they had a chance to metamorphose into zucchini. Early in the squash blossoms life, it reveals its destiny.

As the blossom grows, look at the stem. If the stem remains a stem: no zucchini.
Might as well harvest the blossom and enjoy them in one of these recipes:
Summer Vegetable Quiche
Fried Stuffed Squash Blossoms

For tips on when to pick squash blossom, read this post.

If the stem thickens to resemble a petite courgette, then you have the option to enjoy the blossom or leave it be to let the squash mature.

This year, I planted only 3 zucchini. I had my fill of blossoms last year, and now I just want squash. As these photos were taken today, I’m hopeful.

I’m curious to know what’s different this year. Already, the plants show signs of squash. Last year, there were none. I have a few theories:

1. The soil seems to be in better condition as witnessed by all the earth worms squirming around.
2. Last year, I planted a single seed every few inches, unlike the recommend 3 seeds per mound. I wonder if the seeds “mate” to produce the vegetables.

What do you think happened?

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----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Holly DATE:7/17/2009 11:30:00 AM What perfect timing, coming across your blog post on the boston.com homepage! I was just marveling over our own bounty of zucchini blossoms. They're quite beautiful--though I was wondering when the flowers would start to show signs of producing zucchini. Will have to check their stems when I get home this evening :-)

My flowers have already done quite a bit of opening and closing. If that's the case, are the flowers inedible? ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Sven DATE:7/17/2009 12:25:00 PM Seeds don't mate. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types DATE:7/17/2009 02:50:00 PM This is why I leave the serious farming to others. I can barely figure out how to get people to "connect" versus playing matchmaker to plants! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Tracey DATE:7/17/2009 03:57:00 PM This is so interesting, I had the same exact thing happen to me last year. I purchased 5 plants, only one of them produced any squash, and even at that I only harvested 2 all summer!

I tried again this year, and have already found signs of the "baby squashes" so am hopeful that things will be different this time around. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous jo DATE:7/17/2009 08:34:00 PM I had purchased "self" fertilizing zucchini this year as they seemed to be the one thing I COULD NOT GROW.
For quite awhile I thought I had managed to choose the only hermaphrodite zucchini on the planet and they all chose male.
Finally this morning I peeked under some leaves and woo hoo baby...some zucchini are growing! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:7/18/2009 02:33:00 PM The problem is that the fruit are not getting pollinated.
The solution: Hand Pollination
So how do you know which flower is which?
The male zucchini flower has a normal stem, and a single pointy bit inside it (the stamen) covered in dust-like pollen.
The female zucchini flower has a small fruit (ovary) behind it instead of a stem, and a more complex internal structure (the stigma). ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous noble pig DATE:7/18/2009 10:02:00 PM Honestly I had no idea they did that. I hope you get your squash! ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Julia DATE:7/19/2009 03:49:00 PM Holly -- the flowers are still edible, but they aren't very durable. Be sure to take out the staymen since it's quite bitter

Sven -- Thanks for that bit of info.

T.W. -- I think gardening is easier ;-)

Tracey -- Maybe it's something in the awful June rains that helped us along?

jo -- I think I also heard that for every 8 males, only 1 female plant.

Anon -- So how do you hand pollinate?

noble pig -- Me too! So far so good, and I'll probably enjoy a blossom or two, too. :) ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Anonymous Anonymous DATE:7/19/2009 09:29:00 PM I am a Boston native that lives in San Diego. I planted four seeds this year- roughly three feet from one to the next. I am eating squash with almost every meal. I am choking on squash. I brought in a bunch for people at work and still come home every day and have three or four more to pick. Friday, someone to whom I had given squash cooked a squash casserole and gave it to me . . . I was trying to get rid of it . . . If you don't get any this year I'll be glad to ship a few hundred pounds to you if you pay for shipping. Four seeds = squas overdose. ----- COMMENT: AUTHOR:Blogger Karen DATE:7/20/2009 08:14:00 PM I'm getting little zucchinis that wilt :-( This year I'm trying "zucchette rampicante" (not sure if that's the correct spelling). It's a climbing-type zucchini I read about in The Four-Season Harvest. I've had so much bother with squash vine borers, I thought that I could outsmart them if the vines were lifted off the ground. Supposedly this is an extra-productive type but so far i only have 2 little zicchinis that made it past the sprout stage
:-( Lots of blossoms, though - I'll check out your post for how to cook them! ----- --------