The Q&A Archives: Where's the Fruit?

Question: I have lots of blooms, but they just wither and fall off the vine. If it was just one type of plant I wouldn't be so concerned, but it's the cucumbers, tomatoes and all the squash varieties. I have raised beds and the plants are in 3 seperate beds. I have noticed there aren't any bees around, there were all kinds of them about 2 months ago, but now they have seemed to disappeared. Could this be the problem?

Answer: Squash and cucumbers usually produce male flowers before they produce female flowers and since it's early in the season, that might be why the flowers are dropping off without setting fruit. You can tell the difference between the male and female flowers by closely looking at the stem where they are attached. Male flowers have a slender, straight stem; female flowers have a slight swelling directly behind the petals. If your plants are producing only male flowers, you'll just need to wait patiently for it to produce female (fruit bearing) flowers. If they are producing female flowers which do not produce fruit, I suspect there are not pollinating insects around. In this case, you can take a male flower from the plant and "visit" the female flowers, gently touching the insides of the flowers together. This should produce fruit. Tomatoes are self-pollinating so all you need to do to transfer pollen is to gently shake the branches where the flowers are. Pollen will fall from the male to the female parts of the flowers and fruit should develop.

Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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