Kabochas

[image: a male kabocha squash blossom]
[image: a male kabocha squash blossom, leaning against my sewing machine]

I realized I haven’t talked much about my kabocha squash plants here yet. Back at the beginning of August, Lydia gave me four seedlings. I planted them in the ground, not in baskets like the rest of my vegetable experiment. Here are some photos I tweeted soon after I planted them.

After I got back from Amsterdam, I immediately killed one, thinking that it had severed its stem when it went from vertical to flopping down and growing along the ground. However, I took a cutting from the DeathPlant, in the hope that I could maybe somehow regenerate some roots? (I’m not really sure how plants work.) Anyway, that cutting has been on my desk for three weeks, and it’s grown a blossom! So nice. The outdoor plants have also been generating blossoms, but those generally aren’t quite as photogenic (there are some exceptions, of course—that was the morning I left on my trip).

However, the problem is that squashes are monoecious, meaning they have separate male and female flowers on the same plant. In order to get fruit, you have to get a male flower to pollinate a female flower. And, sadly, I have been lacking in female flowers. It’s been a complete kabocha sausage party up in here.

[image: an unopened female kabocha squash bud]
[image: an unopened female kabocha squash bud]

Until now! I have one, yes ONE, female bud on the vine. I hope dearly that it will grow and eventually blossom. Unfortunately our bee population around here is sort of lacking, so I’ll be pollinating by hand. (Before I had done research into how male and female flowers differed, I definitely made my plants have gay sex.) I keep checking, but this is the only one so far. I was hoping she’d have a gal pal to grow together with.

It was my original hope to have squashes (well, A Squash) by Thanksgiving… now the estimate seems to be New Year’s, once you take into account the fact that the kabocha, like other winter squashes, needs to “cure” for several weeks after it is picked. I’m getting way far ahead of myself here, though. The bud hasn’t even opened yet. There is still a long time where it can be attacked by squirrels or deer or turkeys or whatever other wildlife we have in the neighborhood. Ah, the perils of non-basket gardening!

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