There are both male and female flowers on a zucchini plant. How do you tell them apart? The female flowers have a stubby stalk, (it’s where the fruit begins to grow), and the male flowers are on the end of a more slender stalk.
Problem: Blossom-end rot on your zucchinis? That’s when the end of the zucchini plant shrivels and sometimes turns black or yellow. It forms where the blossom is attached to the beginning fruit. Nature gave us uneven watering this summer: drought followed by buckets of rain; perfect conditions for creating blossom-end rot. Tomatoes are suffering too.
Solution: Remove the fading female flower from the end of the zucchini when it starts to form. Rub off any noticeable decayed part on the end of the growing zucchini with your fingernail. The fruit can usually be saved this way. If any of your fruit has it already, just cut off the affected part when you harvest, the rest of the zucchini will be fine.
Did you Know? The zucchini isn’t a vegetable at all.
Problem: A forest of tomato vines. You can barely see if you have fruit to harvest, and your tomato plants are turning into Triffids.
Solution: You can safely trim back a lot of your indeterminate tomato vine leaves and stems. This adds more air-flow around the plant. Suckers, the little shoots that pop up in the stem node can always be removed. Use a sharp knife to gently sever it from the stem, or pull them out with fingers when small. You Grow Girl’s Gayla Trail has a great post on how to do this tomato plant pruning well, and all the benefits it creates.
Question: What the heck is an indeterminate tomato?
Answer: It’s a vining-type tomato, in the Jack & the Beanstalk mode. It will keep growing and growing. Towards the end of the season it’s a good idea to cut off the top growth of these ones, to direct the plant’s energy into ripening any last tomatoes on the vine. Treehugger has a good explanation on the difference between indeterminate and determinate tomatoes.
Please share any favourite vegetable gardening tricks and tips you have in the comments.