Monday, July 4, 2011

Nature in My Yard

I've learned something so interesting this week! Cody and I have several cantaloupe vines that are growing and flowering like crazy, but no fruit has been produced. I wondered if it was a pollination problem or what the reason was, so I looked it up on google to try and find answers. What I found out is so fascinating. It turns out that many plants, including cantaloupe, produce male flowers for a long time before they start producing female flowers. A female flower has a small bulge behind it which is what will become the actual cantaloupe if the flower is pollinated. Here's a photo of a female flower, which we are finally seeing on our vines, though there are far less of them than male flowers.
This is a photo of one of the many, many male flowers on the vine...notice there's no bulge behind it at all.
The best chance for pollination is if the pollen from several male flowers ends up on the female flower. That's where these little guys come in. I just hope they can take a break from the sunflowers (which are right above the cantaloupe) for a few minutes to do their duty on the cantaloupe vines.

Meanwhile, in another area of the yard, our annual black swallowtail butterfly season is well underway. These butterflies lay their eggs on parsley. The eggs hatch and tiny caterpillars start feasting on parsley and growing plump. When they get big enough, they wander away to find a place to form their chrysalis. Sometimes we capture them right before they form chrysalises. We put them in a bucket of sticks so they can crawl up on something and do their thing. Then we watch for them to open up and release them as butterflies.

I'm also so excited that my eggplants are finally starting to make fruit. I've been watching these plants grow bigger and bigger, wondering if they would ever start producing. They are very tall now and I see at least 3 eggplants. These fruits are growing so quickly and I can't wait to harvest. I love eggplants!

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