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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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