Too Many Male Flowers On Squash And Cucumber

Squash, cucumber and pumpkin belong to the cucurbit family and most garden varieties produce both male and female flowers. Since only female flowers produce fruit, gardeners get concerned when they see too many male flowers and like any other gardening problem they invent lots of ways to fix the problem. Unfortunately most of these so-called fixes don’t actually work.

What causes too many male flowers on cucumbers, pumpkins and squash, and what can be done about it?

Cucumber flowers, the developing fruit behind the female flower is clearly visible
Cucumber flowers, the developing fruit behind the female flower is clearly visible, source: Rasbak and Paul VanDerWerf

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10 Ways to Germinate Pepper Seed Faster – What Works and What Doesn’t Work?

What is the fastest way to germinate pepper seeds? They do germinate a bit slower than other vegetables and that is especially true of hot peppers, so gardeners try all kinds of DIY solutions to speed up the process. In this post I will examine 10 popular ways to speed up the germination of pepper seeds and report on my own experiment that compares most of these methods.

Finally, a definitive answer to the question, what is the fastest way to germinate pepper seeds.

10 Ways to Germinate Pepper Seed Faster - What Works and What Doesn't Work?
10 Ways to Germinate Pepper Seed Faster – What Works and What Doesn’t Work?, Credit: Daisy Dawes

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Twining Direction in Beans – are Scarlet Runner Beans Different?

I was working on my new book, Plant Science for Gardeners (to be released spring 2022), and came across a claim that most beans twine anti-clockwise, but that runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) twine clockwise. This claim was on a government extension site, so it just might be true. It seemed really odd to me, but why would someone make this up? Surely this is something that is easy to check?

I have been growing runner beans for many years but I decided not to plant any this year so I couldn’t even check my garden.

There are also claims that plants, including beans, twine differently in the Southern and Northern Hemisphere. The idea that water drains in a different direction in the south is a myth, so what about twining vines?

Twining Direction in Beans - are Scarlet Runner Beans Different?
Twining Direction in Beans – are Scarlet Runner Beans Different?

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7 Best Ways for Washing Fruits and Vegetables

I recently asked our Facebook Group, Garden Fundamentals, what they used for washing fruits and vegetables and I got quite a range of answers. Some did not wash most items. Quite a few used just water and many used a type of soap. Vinegar and baking soda were also popular for washing fruits and vegetables.

What does the science say about different washing solutions for fruits and vegetables?

Best Way to Wash Fruits and Vegetables
Best Way to Wash Fruits and Vegetables

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10 Perennial Vegetables for Colder Climates

Everyone loves fresh veggies but the amount of work that goes into a vegetable garden is a lot less appealing. Perennial vegetables are gaining popularity as a lower-maintenance alternative to conventional annual crops. You can plant perennial vegetables once and enjoy harvests for years to come.

This is not a new concept – many parts of the world rely on perennial vegetables, like cassava and taro, that live for many years and can be maintained and harvested by hand. Many annuals in the north are grown as perennials in warm, southern climates. Still, there are many wonderful perennial vegetables that grow well in colder climates.

Perennial vegetables, clockwise from top left; asparagus, sunchokes, fiddleheads, horseradish
Perennial vegetables, clockwise from top left; asparagus, sunchokes, fiddleheads, horseradish

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Should You Prune Suckers on Tomatoes?

To prune or not to prune suckers on tomatoes – the age old debate continues – until now!

There are two distinct camps here. Some people prune suckers on tomatoes so that they end up with a single stem and they claim that is best. Others don’t prune suckers at all and they claim their method is best. And then there are the ones that sit on fence and sucker to two or three stems. In this blog I’ll tell you the best way to prune tomatoes.

Should You Prune Suckers on Tomatoes?
Should You Prune Suckers on Tomatoes?, source: Sixteen Acres

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Is Organic Food Better Than Non Organic?

Is organic food better? I know you have heard the marketing. It is more nutritious. It is healthier. It is better for the environment. But is any of that really true? How much of this is marketing hype by both companies and pro-organic groups, and what is the real science behind organic food.

Let’s get the facts about organic food.

Is Organic Food Better Than Non-organic Food?
Is Organic Food Better Than Non-organic Food?, source: Super Market News

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Growing Mineral Rich Food – Are Heirlooms and Organic Methods Better?

Everybody wants to grow nutrient dense food that is more nutritious, but what methods produce the best food? There is lots of talk online about organic gardening producing healthier food but is that really true? Are heirloom varieties better for you than hybrids?

In this post I’ll look at some interesting studies that try to answer these questions and the answers will surprise you.

Growing Mineral Rich Food - Are Heirlooms and Organic Methods Better?
Growing Mineral Rich Food – Are Heirlooms and Organic Methods Better?

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Does Real Garlic Seed Exist?

Go to any nursery or garden center and ask for garlic seed. What you get are garlic cloves, just like the ones you get from the grocery store. Hold on a minute, you asked for seed and what you got were cloves, so you head over to racks of seed packages and look for garlic. You won’t find any. Check your favorite seed catalog and they won’t have garlic seed either.

If there is no such thing as garlic seed, where does garlic come from? How can we have so many different varieties of garlic if they don’t make seed?

Here is the true story about garlic and garlic seed.

Does Garlic Seed Exist?
Does Real Garlic Seed Exist? Photo by GARLIC ANALECTA

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You Are Eating Poisonous Organic Fruits & Vegetables?

Fruits and vegetables are supposed to be good for you – how can they be poisonous? You are probably thinking that I am talking about vegetables sprayed with pesticides but I’m not. Or maybe this refers to vegetables contaminated with pathogens – that’s not it either. I’ll briefly discuss both those problems, but this post is about non-GMO poisonous fruits and vegetables with no synthetic spray or pathogen contamination.

Some fruits and vegetables are poisonous, but not all of the claims are correct.

You Are Eating Poisonous Fruits & Vegetables Even If They're Organic!
You Are Eating Poisonous Fruits & Vegetables Even If They’re Organic!, photo by Harvard

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