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Ging, the male flower is just a flower on a stalk. The female flower is on the end of what looks like a miniature version of the fruit. It's actually an ovary that will become a fruit if pollinated.
Male flowers always outnumber females. The female flower opens in the mornings - usually early - and will often close later in the day.
If you want to try your hand at pollinating, you need to get up early. Remove a male flower, trim away the "petals" to expose the stamen covered with pollen. At the centre of an open female flower is the stigma. Rub the pollen-covered stamen gently against the stigma to transfer the pollen. Don't be too vigorous. Damage the stigma and and all is lost.
You usually get a day or so's notice of the female flower opening. First, you see the ovary forming, then the flower forming on the end of it. When the flower is formed but still closed, you can expect it to open within a day or so. At that point, it's worthwhile checking every morning.
Pictures speak a thousand words. Here's a developed female flower on the end of an ovary.
It will probably open the next morning.
thank you I will have a go bril
omg SwissSue, I was just thinking today that I was likely to perform the same deadly deed. I'm impulsive and work quickly! I shall be more careful, thank you.
BobtheGardener, the idea of burying comfrey sounds a good idea and something to try next year once I have sourced the plant on the land
Good luck, Ging2, they are well worth the effort. Read up lots on the web, I did and learnt loads. Grow Harrier as they mature in 95 days, it has probably been suggested already.
I got busy at the garden centre this morning and have already sprinkled the chicken manure pellets, not a huge amount as it was difficult to spread with the leaves catching them all on their way to the soil. I also bought an organic tomato fertiliser which contained seaweed extract. I watered around each plant with the mixture. I also bought a straight seaweed extract which I shall use in seven days. The tomato fertiliser said to reapply after 7 - 14 days, I reckon using the seaweed one after a week should be good to give them a little lift. If I get my fruits to maturity I shall post a picture (when I've learnt how to do it, I'm hopeless with technology). Isn't it great this hot weather to start the ripening. My first ones are starting to get a slight tan.
DovefromAbove, I think that was a brilliant crop from two plants considering the terrible season we had for butternuts last year. The recipe sounds amazing and very healthy... time for supper!
thank you ladybutternut will try Harrier next year x
Ging2 - I find it best to start them in small pots of garden centre compost, plant the seed on their side, it's always recommended. Water them and cover in cling film. Remove the cling film when each shoot appears. Grow on in a greenhouse, avoiding frost (sometimes I use a white fleece). I pot on as necessary until all risk of frost has passed. We are told to use mulch, like grass clippings, but as yet I haven't. I have put each squash on a tile, though. If you have access to garden compost or horse muck, it will make all the difference in the worl, but don't be put off if you haven't. That seaweed extract is amazing! It was buy one, get one free in the garden centre.
Sorry, Ging2, I just picked up your earlier thread and see you are not a squash beginner. Apologies!
I still have nt got any fruit on my butternut squash plants, is it too late, shall I pull them up. Only male flowers
If there outside and have no fruit, I'd pull them up. Too late now.
I had found that even the later butternuts that had been growing and reached about 5" were looking soft compared to the others. I could see they weren't going to flourish and snipped them off. I think it must be natures way once it becomes a bit late in the season.
Look forward to next year Rosemary. Make an early start but keep everything away from frost or wet/windy weather. They hate it. It's a bit like buying extra ripening days at the end of the season, if you can get them started even a few days early.
Why have my Butternut squashes Green ?? Someone gave me the seed were they not the correct ones?? Havent tried cooking them yet is there a big difference on taste ? Thank you all
Lady Butternut it is my first year growing them so any advice brill x
If they're still green they haven't ripened yet.
Thankyou Italophile ... They are quite big some of them. Do I have to do anything to make them ripen ... Ive taken some leaves away like my pumpkins so the sun can see them.
Ging, some of the acorn-shaped winter squashes stay green even when ripe - but taste exactly the same as the classic butternut shaped ones. If they are butternut-shaped then they're not yet ripe as Italophile says. Unless they're from saved seed in which case all bets are off - not sure what colour or shape an acorn/butternut cross would likely be!
Thank you Bob I have an idea they were saved seeds ...They are butternut shape but a very dark green colour .... I will keep fingers cross they change ... x
Looks like I'll have to be patient then. Just got the one fruit now but masses of, presumably, male flowers. Fingers crossed then. My 4 plants are in a greeenhouse this
Mine have not had the flowers and the fruit in abundance this year .I think it is the August weather that has done it plenty of rain and cold with it and a lack of sunshine when we had needed it.I noticed less insects too.
Lady B was asking about high potash feed. Ash from burning young shoots (such as raspberry canes and other fruit prunings) is good.
Comfrey is a must in any organic garden - cut the whole plant down 6" above the ground when the flowers are about to open, chop 'em up coarsely with a spade and either bury them under the spuds/squashes/tomatoes or soak them in water for a few weeks till they smell disgusting. Strain the resulting 'tea' (more like raw sewage if you ask me) and dilute it 1:10 as a high potash feed. You should get at least two cuts in a season once the plants are established and they spread like mad.
You can do exactly the same with nettles to make a high nitrogen feed. It smells just as bad.
i have grown butternuts for the first time this year and have five fruits, not brilliant but next year i will make sure they are pollinated I grew one plant in the greenhouse and used comfrey feed
I have used a wormery i had given to make the food, just filled each layer with chopped up leaves and put a bottle under the open tap to collect the feed, no smell at all they just dissolved into a slimey mess and i kept adding more