Week 7, Lesson 2
Hi friends! Today we are learning all about pollination. Pollination makes the world go round. If we didn't have pollination, we wouldn't have fruits or vegetables!
What is Pollination?
Pollination is the fertilization process in plants. So what does that mean exactly? It first starts with pollen. Pollen is a powdery substance found in the flowers of plants. On certain plants, there is a male flower and a female flower. Most fruits and vegetables grow from female flowers only, but the flowers need to be pollinated by the male flower first. The male flower will have pollen inside, a pollinator (like a bee) will go inside the male flower to collect flower nectar, take that pollen, and bring it over to the female flower. This then allows for fruits or vegetables to grow from the female flower for us to eat!
- Squash flowers will appear from your plant the first month of growth. Some flowers will never create vegetables because they are male squash flowers and are only used for pollinating the female flowers. Male squash flowers look different than the female flowers because they will grow on long skinny stems throughout the plant; female squash flowers will be closer to the center of the plant with shorter stems. Since they are only used for pollination, male squash flowers can be harvested and eaten! It’s important to only pick half of the male flowers at once so that pollinators can use them to pollinate the female flowers when they begin to grow. To harvest male squash flowers, simply cut their stems or pick off the flowers at their base. Be sure to handle the blossoms with care and be delicate when washing them before cooking.
- Today, we’ll head to the kitchen again to fry up and eat a yummy squash flower snack! First, go out to your garden to harvest the squash flowers--be sure you’re only harvesting the male squash flowers! Once you’ve picked your squash flowers, head to the kitchen to get cooking!
- Did you know that not every plant in your garden will need pollination? Even though pollination is important, it’s not needed if the plant doesn’t produce fruit. For radish, spinach, and basil, pollination is not necessary because only the leaves or roots are being harvested to eat. This is why you can grow basil indoors and it will still grow nice and healthy! The basil does not need a bee to transfer any pollen to flowers in order for the basil plant to grow.
Not every plant with flowers needs to be pollinated by a bee (or other pollinators). There are two reasons for this:
1. Pollination can happen in multiple ways. Pollination can happen through wind, water, hand pollination, and animals. If it is a very windy day, pollen can transfer from the male flower to the female flower and still create vegetables!
2. Self pollinating plants. Some plants, like tomatoes, are self pollinating plants. This means there are both female and male parts inside one flower on a tomato plant, and a bee does not need to carry pollen for fruit to grow. It is still good for bees to be around your tomato plant for best results, but tomatoes are self pollinating plants.
What are Pollinators?
Pollinators are important helpers in our garden! The most common pollinators in your garden are bees, butterflies, moths, flies, ladybugs, and wasps. Without pollinators, our plants would have a hard time producing delicious veggies.Want to add some useful pollinators to your garden while also helping control pests? Did you know you can have ladybugs delivered to your door?! These helpful insects not only help control pests in your garden, they also can help with pollination!