My cucumber plants looked great in the garden. I had beautiful yellow blooms everywhere… then to my dismay all my baby cucumbers started dying. Not just one or two but 20 or 30 one inch baby cucumbers & their yellow blooms were dying! I went over the basics. I had grown cucumbers the past three years. It’s an easy plant to grow with a shorter life cycle that has been a hit in the garden with my four year old. Everything seemed fine. No signs of disease or harmful insects! You can click on the image below to have a closer look of my poor cukes!
After doing a little research I realized that I have sexist cucumbers this year!!! Cucumbers have male & female blooms that need insects for pollination. If this doesn’t take place the female bloom will shrivel & die & so will the miniature cucumber right behind it. Male cucumber plants have no miniature cucumber behind their yellow flower. For every twenty female blooms in the garden there is one male bloom. Where are all my males?!
Well, where are my bees, butterflies, moths & beetles too?! I used the same pack of cucumber seeds last year & had no problems. The only factor I changed this season was that I didn’t plant marigolds with my spring garden. I normally plant a half dozen or so around my garden box to help naturally ward off bad insects & attract good ones. I can always find ladybugs on them, which my daughter thinks is very exciting! With our longer than usual winter this year most of my plants, both in & out of the garden, were blooming right along with my summer cucumbers. I had lazily decided not to mess with the marigolds, never thinking about pollination. I actually have never had a problem with pollination so maybe it is simply the lack of male blooms on the particular seeds that sprouted.
In my cucumber research I came across an article that said to get a paint brush & help the cross pollination take place! So we have been painting a garden this summer! My daughter loves buzzing around like bees & gently sticking a paint brush in each bloom, again & again. We have to work on being gentle with the blooms but it is quite fun!
The best news I have to report about all of this, is that the cucumbers are growing again! A good bit of our crop was lost as cucumbers were our main focus this season. I had hoped for a larger than normal crop so I could share. I think I will continue to lose female blooms unless more male flowers start showing up. However, all has not been lost & we are still able to eat delicious cucumbers each week. Just enough for our little family…
I will research a less sexist variety of cucumbers (& I will faithfully plant my marigolds)! 🙂