Sunday, September 2, 2007

Slow pokes

After my last post, I looked for plants that were just starting to bloom, and found two with a male flower first to bloom. This photo is of one. You can just make out a female bud up against the stem. The shape of the ovary tells me that it's one of the green patty pan types, probably the classic pale green variety, Peter Pan. My Peter Pan plants have been very slow growing. I'm not sure if that's because the variety is slower to develop than the other varieties that I've planted, or because the seeds are so old. Old, weak seed would explain the slow growth, and also why the plant produced a male flower first. It doesn't yet have the strength to mature a fruit. I took the photo on Aug. 30, and there still hasn't been a mature fruit harvested from this plant. At least a male flower gives the plant an opportunity to reproduce via pollen.

Notice the honey bee on the flower. If you click on the image, you'll see that her thorax is covered in pollen. She's likely to pollinate the next flower that she visits with this pollen, as long as she touches the stigma on her way down to the nectary. This seems to be a nectar forager, because she doesn't have any pollen on her hind legs.

One morning while I was in the squash patch looking for squash bees (still haven't seen any yet) I watched a honey bee fly up from a flower and hover over the squash leaves. She was so covered with pollen that I suspect she couldn't see anything.

I mentioned last time that the canopy was closing in the patch. Here's a photo of the patch, also from Aug. 30. The row in the middle lost several plants to a gopher; hence the bare space there.

From now on many of these plants will be competing with their neighbors for light. I have to step gingerly over their leaves as I search daily for squash fruits to harvest.

Next time I'll write about our return to the Nampa Farmer's Market last Saturday with our first squash of the season. I was nervous about it. After all, I'm very late with my squash harvest, and there are perahps 8 other vendors who have been selling squash since early July or late June. Why would anyone buy squash from me if they are used to buying from someone else? Come visit this blog in a few days and find out.

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