Dabbing a male courgette flower with a damp fine brush to pollinate the newly opened female flowers

Dabbing a male courgette flower with a damp fine brush to pollinate the newly opened female flowers

I had the pleasure of talking with Fionnuala Fallon, The Irish Times gardening writer, about courgettes recently in Balbriggan. Unlike last summer, this fine weather is helping my five courgette plants to thrive. The leaves are huge, the flowers are well formed, all seems fine. However, the courgettes are not as numerous as the number of flowers. Am I being impatient. Is there a shortage of insect life to pollinate the flowers? Should I get out an artist’s paint brush or a cotton bud and dab each flower centre to transfer pollen from flower to flower by hand?

Sensibly, Fionnuala gave thumbs to manual pollination. It can’t do any harm, and who knows, it might help! It seems the courgette plant produces male flowers first followed a few days to a week later by female flowers. If weather is too hot for copious bee pollination activity or if bee and other pollinator numbers are low, then hand pollination is required. To do this, dampen a small brush or cotton bud. Dab the male flowers to collect some yellow powdery pollen. (The male flowers are on the end of the stems coming from the centre of the plant.) Then dab the female flowers which are attached to what look like baby courgettes. If that baby courgette starts to grow, bingo, we have lift off! At this point, I am hopeful. An update will follow in a couple of weeks!


3 responses to this post.

  1. Very interesting – we have the problem the other way round, we always put in too many courgette plants (6 this year) and with the good weather here (! though maybe this year is a bit different) and our bees we end up with a glut of courgettes and there is only so much ratatouille you can make. But good luck will be interesting to read the results. (France SW)


  2. Posted by duffyken on August 6, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Thank you Trevor for those large tasty looking courgettes you brought to my house, I will find them a good home.


    • Posted by Trevor Sargent on August 10, 2013 at 10:58 pm

      Hi Ken,

      Thanks for dinner. Hope you enjoy those courgettes. I have been enjoying the current crop stuffed – very experimental possibilities!

      Good growing with your own herbs,


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