How to hand-pollinate cucumbers

This year I decided to put on my green thumb. We live in a small apartment with a balcony, so I purchased several planters and got to work. There are now four cucumber plants growing in one planter not nearly big enough to hold them. I added a trellis, and the vines are growing on it every which way. By now I’m sure you can tell that I really don’t know what I’m doing.

About three weeks ago, I noticed what looked like tiny little cucumbers growing on my plants. But they were shriveled up and clearly dying. I finally started researching cucumber plants online and realized that cucumbers have to be pollinated in order to fruit. In a perfect gardening world, little bees would land on my cucumber plants. They’d visit the male flowers and get pollen stuck to their little bee legs. Then they’d fly to the female flowers and in the process, leave the male pollen there. Only, it wasn’t happening. Well, one bee made it up to my balcony. Because I had one large, juicy, delicious, lone cucumber growing. Just one. The solution? Hand-pollination.

Hand pollinating your cucumber plants is pretty simple. The female flowers are all by themselves and are growing at the tip of a mini cucumber. The male flowers hang out in clusters. Take a Q-tip (or a paintbrush) and brush it inside a male flower. The pollen will stick right to the Q-tip, and the tip should be yellow. Then place it gently inside the female flower and brush the inside. That’s it!

Some photos of the process:

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Too late- the female flower is dying and so is the pre-cucumber. It wasn’t pollinated in time.
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Male flowers cluster together
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Beautiful, brand-new female flower and pre-cucumber
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Using a Q-tip to collect pollen from a male flower
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Transferring pollen to a female flower
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If you’re successful, a few days after hand pollinating, the female flower will die, but the pre-cucumber will continue to grow.
 What gardening projects have you undertaken this year? Successes? Challenges?
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DIY: Toyarium gardening project

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Miracle-Gro for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

As Baby J grows older, I try to include him in more projects around our home. I even bought a small watering can just for him to help me water our little balcony garden. In reality, it’s more like he’s bashing the tops of the plants with the watering can! It’s cute though, and I want him to grow up being helpful, so it’s all okay!

Miracle-Gro¬†has several fun garden projects¬†(<<check this out!) on their Pinterest and Facebook pages, and as soon as I saw the “Toyarium” project, I knew I had to try it with Baby J! As you can see, the “Toyarium” is a terrarium with toys in it.

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To make your own Toyarium, you need:

Step 1: Add rocks to bottom of container (they help with drainage).

Step 2: Use your spoon to scoop moisture-control potting mix into the container.

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Step 3: Place your succulents into the container (if they have barbs, be careful!).

Step 4: Add your toys. Then scoop potting mix around the plants and toys as necessary.

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And that’s it!¬†This project is easy and fast to do.

Tips:

To save money, use a glass jar, vase, or other container you have around the home. Just make sure it’s cleaned thoroughly first, and that the mouth is wide enough that you can easily place the plants and toys inside.

For the drainage layer, you can buy rocks polished specifically for this purpose. Or try small pieces of gravel or broken pottery.

To help your plants grow, try the LiquaFeed All Purpose Plant Food Advance Starter Kit by Miracle-Gro.

Regarding the toys, I started off with a rubber snake we had in the toy bin. I thought it looked cool! But most people would find it creepy (see below), so I took it off and went with Buzz. When I get the chance, I’ll check the dollar store for toy dinosaurs. I think they’d look perfect peeking through the foliage!

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Too creepy, eh?

If you want to get your green thumb on, check out The Gro Project and join the movement!

 

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