Campus News

Pollination is the key to growing many vegetables in the garden

When it comes to growing vegetables, sometimes having insects in the garden can be a good thing, said Frank M. Watson, a Cooperative Extension agent in Wilkes County.

Some vegetable plants are self-pollinators or don’t produce fruit, but many others need bees and other insects to spread their pollen around to produce fruit.

Leafy vegetables don’t need bees since they don’t produce fruit; and beans and tomatoes are self-pollinating, so they don’t need any help developing fruit either.

Other plants like bell pepper and eggplant can produce fruit without bees, but gardeners will see higher yields if bees help pollinate the plants.

Cucumber plants and their relatives—including gherkin, pumpkin, casaba, crenshaw, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon and all types of squash and gourds—require cross-pollination by bees and other insects before they will produce any fruit.

These plants produce separate male and female blooms on the same plant. The male blooms appear a few days before female blooms, and during unfavorable conditions, the male bloom will abort before the female bloom is pollinated.

Gardeners also should avoid spraying and dusting insecticides when bees are present and try to avoid concentrating the insecticide on the blooms of their vegetable plants.