Fertilising fruits ’n flowers
To avoid this, on a sunny day when the tops are laden with pollen, simply run your hand up the male flowers and dump the contents on the female tassels below. This helps ensure fuller cobs at harvest time. Additional two-weekly sprays of Magic Botanic Liquid also makes for better, bigger sets on the cobs.
Pumpkins, zucchini and melons have both male and female flowers on the same plant and the pollen needs to be moved from the male to the female. Bumble bees normally do this job but if the fruit is not pollinated it will still grow for a time but then rot off..
The female flower is easy to determine as it has the embryo fruit behind the flower, the male does not.To ensure a good fruit set, pluck a pollen-laden male flower off the vine, remove the petals and rub some of the pollen onto the centre part of the female flowers.
Passionfruit is another crop that will benefit from hand pollination.
To help attract insect pollinators, dissolve raw sugar in hot water and then spray the sweet liquid over your target . Tomatoes are pollinated by vibration from bumble bee wings as they fly near the plant. A light breeze on a sunny day when the flowers are pollen laden also does the job and generally speaking outdoor tomato plants set fruit well.
In glasshouses or sheltered areas, ensure setting by tapping the stake or trunk of the plant to cause a vibration.
Make sure there’s ample potash available to any flowering or fruiting plant. A monthly sprinkle of Fruit and Flower Power on the soil in the root zone will greatly assist.
Some plants such as bougainvillea need a bit of stress to give a great show of flowers. If they are well fed and watered they tend to grow all over the place and not flower. So, let them dry out for a time to kick in the flowering cycle, and don’t feed them much either.
Remember that most plants only flower to reproduce themselves by seed. When their lives are threatened, they quickly go into a flowering cycle. The best example of this are the annual weeds that grow lushly in spring when there is ample rain, but as soon as the soil dries out, they start to flower.
On vegetables such as cabbages and silverbeet, the soil needs to be kept moist because if it is allowed to dry out too much, the plants will bolt, or in other words, go to seed prematurely.
In flowering sweetcorn, the male tops dust the female tassels to complete the fertilisation process, which is one reason why sweetcorn is planted closely together.