Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Cucumber Blossoms

First of all I want to thank Claire for the hope she has given me that at least some of my chicks might hatch. In a few days we'll know for by Friday they should start hatching. Our youngest granddaughter in the future maybe won't be so proned to turn or push everything she can ... yes, which also includes the computer tower button I'm afraid. After all, she has learned to stir the cats fur, no not pet but stir in a circular motion. Close enough as it sure beats the pounding she use to give him and he is most grateful for the change. I'm sure with a little more training she'll learn to be nice to the chicks also. After all she is only 16 months old and according to Claire they might just make it after all since the incubator is a still air one. Excuse the typo on the temperature I changed it to 99.5 as it should have read in the beginning. I don't proof read so well with a 5 year old next to me begging for a snack. Sorry! I'll learn to be more efficient as I'm out of practice doing so much multi-tasking.Today, I'm going to talk about cucumbers and show you a nice looking plant. I'll admit I haven't been the best about keeping the fire going in the basement and some of the plants look a bit peeked. Too much to do so little time and energy. Our forecast for tonight is 20's and tomorrow for a high of 36 F. A real heat wave that is to include what else, SNOW. lol After that they are promising some warm weather. I hope it is here to stay. Please, Please, Please weatherman.
While I wait for the weather to warm up some of the plants are beginning to blossom. The first planting of cucumbers is quite lovely with their yellow MALE blossoms.
and the one here to?
See that skinny stem below the blossom? It would have a nice little bulbus fat spot before the blossom if a cucumber fruit was to form signifying a female blossom.
Yup, cucumbers have a male blossom and a female blossom unlike the tomato which is self-fertilizing because it has male and female in one blossom. But from class yesterday we learned that they need shook up a bit for the pollen to travel to the female part. Wind or a insects wings do the job. The cucumber on the other hand is best suited to be fertilized by insects as the insects must do the greet and meet ceremony so to speak.
A bee isn't by nature interested in all this match making since emotional isn't what I'd use to describe them, except a few I've know could really use a good anger management class. I'm thinking mainly of the Italian bees we ordered from California one time and we swore they were crossed with Killer bees because when ever you opened the hive they came out in a black cloud on the attack. The problem was easily fixed as we just put in new queens in the hives and they come already bred. Fortunately, it was to nice well mannered gentleman drones and their children reflected their proper heritage. Meanwhile, we had to put up with great honey producing but the miserable temperament of the old crowd until they died out. That was the year our middle daughter learned to drive a stick shift pickup. Within 600 acres of alfalfa we'd walk around for about 30 minutes after working inside the hives and then when the angry crowd had thinned, we'd head out in a dead run to which was our daughter's cue to start driving down the two track dirt road. We'd run, jump on the tailgate of the pickup while she sped off out distancing the last of the nastiest of the nasties.
Okay, wow, I did get a bit off track there but anyway, bees are attracted to the cucumber blossom both female and the male for they both have nectar. The male flower's nectar being higher in concentrated sugars but the female has more of the liquid. Neither are a really rich source of pollen or nectar though so the bees will quickly move on to something a bit more to their liking. The stigma is receptive throughout the day but most responsive in the early morning. Coincidentally, that was when I was photographing sunflowers each morning last summer and that was also when the bees were the thickest and busiest.
What I've never understood is why the male blossoms open 10 days before the female blossom and out-number them. What are they suppose to do before the females arrive? They say 10 males to 1 female. Boy would I have like those numbers at the dances I attended as a teenager. It was more like the livestock herds I know 25 females to 1 male which is a pretty common number. So someone explain the cucumber deal with all the males. For that matter the squash do the same thing. Don't tell me it's because it gives us lots of guys to make stuffed squash blossom with. You know that isn't the answer. We all know it doesn't take many males in livestock to get the job done. My dad had 10 bucks of the neighbors get into his sheep one year and they covered, if I remember right, 350 ewes in one night. He swears he couldn't of gotten the local crowd of males to do that if he paid them. lol But bad boys doing what they shouldn't and then left town left a mess with lambs born too early and many of them were lost. The herd wasn't use to being handle much so shed lambing wasn't an option for it would have caused more problems than solved.
So here are my thoughts, I'm thinking these cucumber guys must need lots of nectar to attract the bees and not so much pollen so it takes lots of them to do the job. Or have you a better explanation? Maybe even a scientific one.
Anyway, I've been plucking those poor good for nothings boy blossoms off my plants in the basement. There isn't any bees down there since their all outside behind the shed hovering in the hives trying to keep from freezing their hinnies off and that leaves me to do the pollinating when the girls arrive. So out of spite maybe I'm plucking off the males. It hasn't releived much of my built up frustration lately but a girl has got to try.
But since squash blossoms came to mind can you eat cucumber blossoms? We've done the dandelion blossoms. If you pluck them before they open up, dunk them in egg, then roll them in cracker crumbs, and fry them in a little oil they're not too bad - taste like eggplant. We did it only once since it really wasn't that good and definitely lots of work. I'm warning you though, just don't get one that has opened or it tastes like well, uh... pollen I guess which is yucky. When I did a Internet search for cucumber blossoms being edible it just led me to viruses that wanted to come and visit so enough of that.
One last note is that by picking your cucumbers regularly instead of waiting until they are boat sized and yellow then you are stimulating your plants to produce more female blossoms on the same vine. Of course if our weather doesn't quit being winter outside it really won't matter because I won't have a garden. GRRRR...

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