Pollination and Heat in the Vegetable Garden

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Many crops we grow in the home vegetable garden need pollinators to help move the pollen from one flower to the next. Some of those crops include squash, cucumbers, melons, and peppers to name a few. Tomatoes can be pollinated by shaking the plant so the pollen falls off the anther and onto the stigma (part of the flower that receives the pollen).

In some cases, such as cucumbers, the pollinator needs to make several trips to the flower. I’ve seen some pictures of cucumbers that are fat on the end near the stem and skinny or pointed on the end where the blossom is. This is an indication that the flower received some pollination, but not enough to pollinate all the ovaries in the flower. The fat part of the fruit is still edible, but the fruit part is sometimes a little tough.

With the amount of wind we have in Carteret County, tomatoes will often produce without the aid of an insect. That being said tomatoes can be a little finicky when it comes to heat. With many tomato varieties when the nighttime temperatures stay above 75 degrees the plant will produce flowers, but will abort the flowers and not produce fruit because the plant needs all the energy it can produce just to keep the plant alive. These tomatoes will often start producing again when the temperatures have cooled off in the fall.

Speaking of fall, August is the month to plant fall crops of collards, cabbage, broccoli, and other crucifers. Planting them in August will allow them to get big enough that they will make a great harvest in the fall.