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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Valley at Stud



Now that title grabbed your attention, didn’t it? And, no, it’s not a cheap dodge to get you to read this post…nothing like John Gierach’s Sex, Death, and Flyfishing. (I wonder how many readers rushed to buy Gierach’s book for the “sex,” only to discover the author used the subject in the context of the natural history of the mayfly?) Sorry to disappoint--the subject of this post is zucchini, but now that you’ve read this far, you may as well suffer through the rest.

The other day I answered the door to admit my environmentally-sensitive friend Nancy L. A little plastic bucket dangled from her hand. The bucket contained a clippers and a soft-bristled artist’s paintbrush. Ah, ha! I know what she’s up to this morning: a little vegetable sex, zucchini sex, to be specific. This mission is a repeat of last year’s, and I’m wondering what’s going on with my friend’s squash. Is she using Amazonian seed, seed that excludes anything male, like the warrior women of myth? Does her zucchini belong to some secret female society, the seeds of which sprung from the Isle of Lesbos? Whatever the case, Nancy L fears a dearth of zucchini, something that has never happened in my garden. Even early into the zucchini season, I’m wishing my plants would practice a little abstinence.

Zucchini is a monoecious plant: each bush produces both male and female blossoms—at least mine do. Nancy’s, on the other hand, seem female profuse; the men are no shows.


female zuke

What she has brought with her in the bucket is zucchini sex paraphernalia: she plans to snip a few male blossoms from my plants, take them home to the female blossoms and gently paintbrush the ladies with the male stuff. Without this special masculine pixie dust the female nubbins will show promise at first but then turn yellow, shrivel, and rot. There would be no zucchini bread in the Parker household this year. No zucchini relish. No steamed, baked, sauteed, fried, stuffed or salad-sliced zucchini either. Nancy is here to prevent a zucchini catastrophe.

We go out to the zucchini patch. It is midmorning and the blossoms are still fresh, haven’t begun their midday, early afternoon wilt. We find two or three male blossoms.male zuke They beckon to Nancy: “Take me! No, take me! I’m your man! Bring on the ladies!” Nancy enjoys being the matchmaker, selects a couple promising gents, snips them from their stalks. She pops them into the bucket. With a hasty “thanks,” she hurries off.  Nancy is anxious to perform a little artificial insemination in her own patch, bring home the grooms; she must rush home quickly before the ardor cools.

You’re more than welcome, Nancy L. Feel free to visit my zucchini plants here in the Valley anytime, a Valley where men are men—and women too! Well,  at least where zucchini are concerned, .

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1 comment:

  1. I'm picturing it and giggling. I hope they take! :)