by Emma Richford
One of the most common complaints I hear from new gardeners is "My cucumbers are blossoming , but no cucumbers are setting on!" They, of course, think they have done something wrong, or there is something wrong with their cucumbers. The truth is their cucumbers are growing exactly as they should.
You see, cucumbers - like zucchini and squash - produce both male and female blooms. The male blooms grow on a long slender stem and do not grow into cucumbers. They bloom a week or so before the female blooms to attract bees to the garden. Their job is to provide pollen for pollinating the female blooms when they open.
Female cucumber blossoms have a tiny swollen ovary at the base that looks like a miniature cucumber. The blooms to the left are female blooms. Note the tiny cucumber at the base of the blossom.
When bees carry pollen from the male blooms to the female blooms - yes we are talking about the birds and bees here - the flower is pollinated and the tiny cucumber begins to grow.
If the blossom is not pollinated due to a lack of bees, extremely hot dry weather or prolonged rainy weather, the tiny cucumber will shrivel and die. Unless you are observing these miniature cucumbers dying on the vine, you don't have anything to worry about. An occasional shriveled cucumber is normal.
Give your cucumbers a week or two and before you know it your vines will be covered with miniature cucumbers.
I have my eye on these, as they are my first cucumbers of the season. They won't make it to the dinner table - but they will make a delicious snack someday soon!
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