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Thread: Pollenating Cucumbers with a small brush:: with Pics

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    Member mudbuddy's Avatar
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    Default Pollenating Cucumbers with a small brush:: with Pics

    Female cuc (as with squash , pumpkins etc) have a small cucumber just behind the bloom. The "stigma" is in the center awaiting pollen.
    Male cuc bloom just have a stem attaching the bloom to the plant. The "anther" has pollen on it in the center.
    I use a small soft paint/artist's brush.
    I get some pollen on the tip of the brush from a male, (you can see a yellow dust on the tip of the brush if you look close, (I need to have my glasses on) )
    & transfer it to the female.
    I've tried the direct method of pulling of the male, removing the petals but found it faster & more efficient with the small paint brush.
    I do the same for my pumpkins & zucchini squash in the garden (very few bees here to pollenate)
    If the female cucs die off & turn brown, most likely they did not get pollenated,
    (Same for zucs but they seem to rot starting at the tip where the bloom is attached)
    I continually look for females blooming, & seem to have lots of males to get pollen from.
    1st pic is a male, 2nd female with the bloom attached to the end of the little cuc.
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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    Mudbuddy
    thanks for posting these pictures... I don't have any blossoms yet, got started late, actually bought the starts .. this whole season will be a learning process for me... I've had a garden for years, but never a GH... I've learned so much from you and others on this Forum... Next trip to town I'm buying a paint brush... Thanks again...!!

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    Haha. The first year I had a garden I pollinated all the male flowers on my zucchini plants and wondered why I wasn't getting squash. I was totally clueless about the baby zucchini behind the female flowers! Now I know better.

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    Zucs:
    Female:


    Female & brush getting pollen from a male (bigger brush than cucs)
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    For the second year in a row my zuchs are looking very wilted. I hardened them off over the course of a week the same as I did with everything else, but the zuchs are the only thing struggling. I know that they do better in greenhouses, but I also know folks do well with them outdoors. I'm at about 1,800' and it's a bit windy up here...is that my problem? Last year I only saw a couple of female blooms and didn't get any to pollinate. This year I have a lot of male buds so far, but no females and the plants themselves are looking pretty rough. Maybe I should start the seeds right in the ground instead of doing earlier starts indoors? Any ideas are welcome.

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Brian, it couldn't hurt to plant a few from seed outdoors and see how they do compared to the early starts. The early starts may have become root bound. They can have a large root system and if it becomes root bound it can stunt it's ability to send out roots when it is planted.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    For the second year in a row my zuchs are looking very wilted. I hardened them off over the course of a week the same as I did with everything else, but the zuchs are the only thing struggling. I know that they do better in greenhouses, but I also know folks do well with them outdoors. I'm at about 1,800' and it's a bit windy up here...is that my problem? Last year I only saw a couple of female blooms and didn't get any to pollinate. This year I have a lot of male buds so far, but no females and the plants themselves are looking pretty rough. Maybe I should start the seeds right in the ground instead of doing earlier starts indoors? Any ideas are welcome.
    Last year was a wet year, I got very few zucs. Most rotted even if pollenated it was so wet & cool. I may make a cover to keep the blooms/plant dry during pollination if it is as wet as last year.
    I grow outdoors & have for over 30 years with good success. I use raised hills, beds, tires. anything to get the soil 2 or 3 degrees warmer & have good drainage.
    Wilted seem like a water issue, even when I didn't harden off well they never wilted but the leaves turned white (but the new leaves were fine). I use 1/2 of a bucket of compost in each plant bed & soak it real good when first planted. If you have good drainage, it's hard to overwater zucs.

    Have never tried starting seeds direct but it may work. Mine are 6 weeks +/- old so garden seed would be behind the curve considerable. You'd be 4 - 6 weeks behind but in some years that may still produce some zucs.
    So far I've had 1 female & no males so she's toast. But in about 2 weeks things should pick up.
    Maybe we all should get together & start a "Zucchini pollen bank" . (I've done that with a buddy & with good results.)
    "I have males & no females do you need some pollen???"" or vice-a-versa "I need some pollen"

    Just give them water if they wilt. With the recent rain, that should help. The plant (specially the leaf stalks) is heavy in water so they use more water than other plants.
    Good luck.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    I guess "wilt" is probably the wrong term. Like you said, the leaves have turned white as though they were burned by the wind or sun. I was out of town for a few days and left the watering duties to a family member, but overall they've been watered regularly. I'm also fairly certain that they weren't root-bound. As for where they're planted, they're in a compost/soil mix in a raised garden made out of bricks with very good drainage. They're still alive and blooming, so perhaps they'll bounce back, but those leaves sure don't look happy.

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    I think you are ok. Mine did the same thing. I just pinched off the old funky looking leaves & have new nice green leaves.
    Hoping to be getting blooms soon & getting some zucs forming.
    We both just need some more Patience

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    Zuc's use a lot of calcium out of the soil. Try keeping some egg shells and mash them up real fine between two pices of paper and spread them around the bace of the plant. I had the same problem as Brian and this seemed to help last year.

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    Member garnede's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I guess "wilt" is probably the wrong term. Like you said, the leaves have turned white as though they were burned by the wind or sun. I was out of town for a few days and left the watering duties to a family member, but overall they've been watered regularly. I'm also fairly certain that they weren't root-bound. As for where they're planted, they're in a compost/soil mix in a raised garden made out of bricks with very good drainage. They're still alive and blooming, so perhaps they'll bounce back, but those leaves sure don't look happy.
    If the other leaves look good then you are fine. You can damage leaves and the leaf will never recover, but the rest of the plant will be fine. You can cut off the damaged leaves and not harm the plant.
    It ain't about the # of pounds of meat we bring back, nor about how much we spent to go do it. Its about seeing what no one else sees.

    http://wouldieatitagainfoodblog.blogspot.com/

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    Default Test:: frozen zuc pollen from 2010 used today

    I remembered that I saved some pollen from last year in an old film case in the freezer.
    This is a test: Can you freeze Zuc pollen for future use??
    We'll see. I pollenated 4 females with frozen pollen from last year.
    Dabbed some frozen pollen on a med size soft brush & tickled the females
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    MB: I also did a test of sorts yesterday. Am growing quite a few more winter squash and pumpkins this year than in the past and i've gotten them up and going earlier than in past years. Have several female blooms now on blue hubbards, sugar pumpkins, and a japanese buttercup variety and finally I had a male bloom open on one of the pumpkins.

    I'm pretty sure from reading that amongst winter squash the pollen is interchangeable, (squash are definitely NOT compatible with cucumbers) but will find out as I used the pumpkin pollen on a half fozen female winter squash blooms. I'm also doing several acorns that have not opened blooms yet but are close. I believe all winter squash are the same species, Cucurbita maxima, whereas cucumbers have their own genus

    In the past I have just let insects do the pollinating as usually I have male flowers open first, and ample bees to get the job done. However, the past few days being mostly damp we have not had enough sunny breaks to give the insects much time, and I've kept plants mostly covered so I went around myself. Hopefully it works and I get these hubbard's first fruits to set as they will need a long time to mature if we have another 55 degree summer.

    Had success with a miniature blue hubbard before but this is my first foray with the big guys. Others have been successful in warm summers.



    FYI, I think your frozen pollen will be fine. The stuff stays viable for thousands of years in permafrost.

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    Oh, and Brian, on your outdoor Zuccs. All cucurbits ideally "want" to be growing out of a steaming pile of monkey or puma **** in a south american rainforest, and they'll have 12" wide true leaves before the pile stops steaming.

    My guess is that you aren't replicating that niche in your ER subalpine location.



    In Alaska when we do get heat in the spring it's never enough for squash, and it's almost always WAY TOO DRY.

    Gotta row cover them to keep humidity in for the leaves, and to warm the soil, and you should grow them in as much organic material as you can muster (a several foot HIGH bed is ideal) to make it worthwhile growing them.

    Best spot for small gardeners trying them outside is on the compost pile


    By this time of year, the humdiity has recovered enough, but the heat is seriously lacking, especially in the soil even when we do get air temps up in the 70s. 90 degrees is a casual day for a cucurbit as long as it has amply moist soil.


    So keep them and the soil as warm as you can (hence the compost pile), and water as often as you can. I grow mine in mini-tunnels that easily get over 100 degrees air temps when the sun comes out and I have to uncover them partially. The soil in the beds yesterday 12" down was averaging 62-64 degrees even though outside air temps have mostly been mid 50s

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    Member jmg's Avatar
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    Mudbuddy

    Is this the same method you use for pollinating your tomatoes in the greenhouse? Our plants seem to be doing really well, and we are starting to get blossoms. But in the GH, we are not real sure about getting them pollinated. We have run a fan in there off and on (that was for the mold and excess moistre issue posted elsewhere), and we released 1500 (give or take a few hundred) ladybugs in there as well, although most of them seem to have moved to the roof of the greenhouse to eat on various flies and bugs that come in.

    What can we do to make sure all of these plants are pollinated? We have tomatoes, broccoli, zucs, cauliflower, yellow squash, brussel sprouts in there. How often do we need to pollinate?

    Thanks in advance.
    Never count your days, but rather, make all of your days count.

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    Tomatoes you just need to flick or shake the plant. They self pollenate with a little disturbance to the blooms.
    The squash I hand pollenate (in the garden), I just got several males blooms & got several females pollenated &
    I use a larger soft brush for the zucs, pumpkin & other squash. It is easy to see the pollen on the brush when pollenating squash.

    I believe broccoli & brussels do well out side here (they do for me) & I also grow zucs outside in raised beds.
    My GH is for toms, peppers & cucs. I use any squash pollen to pollenate other type plants with success as long as you don't plan to save the seeds for next years plants.
    Good luck

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    i am growing zucs, maters, squash and cucs in 5 gal buckets this year... havent polinated anything... all of them producing

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    I plan on growing some self pollenating cucs next year, I'm getting 2 to 4 per day to eat now but pollenating (even finding the females) is getting to be a chore. Maybe I have it too crowded
    Zucs, are outdoors & might get pollenated buy insects but I don't risk it if I'm around & have pollen. I have several females but am waiting to see if they got pollenated, (by me or bugs). I will know in about a week.
    I did play with zuc shapes one year, pollenate one side, back, middle or just the tip, That was a bountiful year so i was just having fun.
    I have yet to see any bees around here.

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    Supporting Member Old John's Avatar
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    If the sun will stay out for another day or two I should have some cucumber blossoms of both sexes to try my pollenating skills on... (I hope)

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    Is there specific reason for using a paint brush? I use a q-tip to pollinate my tomatoes but you have me wondering if there is a better tool.
    "Bark,bark,bark,sniff,sniff,bark,and bark" - Lynchs Blue Roan Lynch E.C.K.

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