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Raise, Grow, Harvest, Eat, Repeat

A blog for growers, consumers, and backyard gardeners to grow, eat, and connect in the local food system.

Squash Blossoms: Something Else You Aren't Eating

Continuing what has become a series of eating things on a vegetable plant you didn't know you could eat, I wanted to profile squash blossoms. In the last couple of growing seasons, I've seen squash blossoms show up at farmers market stands. While you might think that the grower is sacrificing the squash blossom and now means that he/she will not get a squash/zucchini, this is not the case. A squash plant has both male and female blossoms. In general, there typically are more male flowers on a squash plant then there are female plants. The ones that a grower will sell are the male blossom and these blossoms will never become squash.

For fruit to set on a squash plant, it means that the pollen of the male flower needs to transfer to the female flowers. It's important that before removing the male blossom that you see growth behind the female blossom. If you don't see this, then you shouldn't be removing the male blossom just yet. The female blossoms still need to be pollinated. If you eliminate the male blossoms, then you won't have squash from the female blossoms.

Removing the male blossom can do a number of things for the overall plant health. If you have grown squash and zucchini, you know that cucumber beetles love to hide in the blossom. By removing the male blossom, it now means one less hiding place for the beetles to be. You may also be able to find squash easier because male flowers are not hiding squash.


In the photo below, you can see the difference between the male and female blossoms. While you can open up the blossoms and see additional differences, I tend to think you are best waiting for smaller squash to appear behind the female blossom.

Source: University of Maryland Extension

Now that you've picked off the male flowers, you need to decide how to eat them! Raw, fried, stuffed, baked, soup, and so many other options are available to you. Like with scapes and new greens, experiment with the blossoms to see what you think works best.


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