Have you heard the one about the rabbi and the zucchini?
Andrea Bellamy |


There are a lot of dirty jokes you can make about zucchinis, to state the obvious.

But somehow it escaped my attention, until very recently, that zucchini plants have male and female flowers – of which the male flowers (above) must pollinate the female flowers (below) in order to make babies.


Now, I’ve grown zucchini for years – never successfully, mind you – but year after year I planted seeds, nurtured the plants, watched the little phallic fruits grow… and shrivel and die. And I would shrug it off, blasting the gardening gods for being against me again that year. It was only this year that, faced with another shriveled yellow curcubit, I dragged myself to the Internet and discovered that I was dealing with sexual disfunction in my garden. Or at least a lack of bee action.

This just goes to show you that a) Gardening is an ongoing learning process and b) I’m stubborn, lazy, and dumb as sh*t.

I am capable of learning, thank goodness. Armed with an article on zucchini blossom end rot I learned that rotting baby zucchinis are usually a result of lack of pollination. IE: if bees don’t pollinate your zucchini, you have to do it yourself.

And thus, in what was probably the closest thing to my experimental college days, I decided to intervene in another couple’s sex life.


Hand pollinating feels kind of illicit (at least to my dirty mind). Basically, you locate a male flower (one with a slender stem), open it up and, using a cotton swab, gather some of the yellow pollen from its central pistol. Then you find a female flower (one with a swollen, baby zucchini-like stem) and gently roll the pollen onto its inner stigma. And just like that – we’re in the baby business. You can also forgo the cotton swab and just break off the male flower and nuzzle it into the female’s business.


It’s easy, but yet somehow feels wrong. But as long as my now-pollinated little zucchinis “set” and provide me with chocolate zucchini bread for months to come, I guess I’ll get used to the idea.

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