The members of the Cucurbit family — cucumbers, squash, pumpkins, watermelons, cantaloupes — all produce male and female flowers. Pollination is therefore necessary and is usually carried out by bees. Lack of bees; cloudy, wet weather; or improper use of insecticides will result in poor fruit set. You can insure yourself a good harvest by pollinating the blooms yourself.
The male flower will have a longer, thin stem, while the female flower will have a rounder structure called the ovary, bearing resemblance to baby cucumber or immature fruit.
You can pollinate the blooms by pulling off a male bloom and removing the petals and then dabbing it onto the female bloom, thereby transferring the pollen.
One male bloom will pollinate five to eight female blooms. You can also use a cotton swab or a small brush to transfer the pollen from the male to the female flower. This procedure should occur before 10 a.m. for maximum success.
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