But where were they when I needed them?
This year I ordered some seeds from the Real Seed Catalogue with a view to trying to save my own seed, rather than having to buy from the main seed providers every year. One of the varieties I bought was Anna Swartz Hubbard Squash and I carefully read the instructions which came with the seeds, on how to go about producing and then saving my own seeds.
I have waited patiently to be able to implement the first stage of seed saving and on Thursday evening I spotted a female flower and a male one due to open the next day (predicting the opening of squash flowers is incredibly easy) . So I carefully secured the still closed petals of both flowers, using plastic coated garden rings and then went inside.
Female squash flowers are promiscuous, in so much as they don’t much care which variety of male squash flower provides the pollen which pollinates them and so to ensure that the seeds from any given squash or pumpkin is true for the next generation, you have to stop the flowers opening, so that the bees and other pollinators don’t get to the female before you and your paintbrush/cotton bud etc, or that they don’t remove all the pollen from the male before you have chance to collect some of it (you would be surprised how quickly the pollen can be stripped from a flower). Hence the need to secure both flowers.
First thing Friday morning, i rushed outside, grabbed my fine paint brush from the greenhouse and went across to the flowers only to find that a slug had eaten its’ way into the female and that, consequently, the bees were happily inside doing their bit for squash procreation. I was not a happy bunny and all that was left for me to do was release the male flower and go have a coffee! Next time I will have to place both flowers onto a smooth white tile which the slugs don’t seem to like to crawl across (I normally use them to rest the pumpkins on as they grow to prevent too much insect damage) and of which I have plenty in the shed.
Now for the ‘ahhh’ factor. The little wrens of which there are definitely three and possibly even 4, have moved out of the main nest in the hanging basket and are now sitting by the larger hole and so I have been able to snap a couple of pictures. I decided that one of these as the main post header picture was preferable to my poor, slug eaten female flower and I have to say that the little wrens are so cute. We think they must be very close to fledging and will miss the cacophony of noise they produce ….. well, okay not miss it exactly but you know what I mean.