Garden Clippings: Fruit Production

'Why aren't my vine crops putting on fruit?'

| June 2008

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    HAND-POLLINATED MELON: Gardeners who want larger, earlier fruits sometimes pollinate their vine crops by hand.
    CAPPER'S Photo Library

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'Why aren't my vine crops putting on fruit?' That's a popular question from gardeners trying to grow pumpkins, melons and cucumbers, especially early in the growing season.

Sometimes the problem is the gardener's fault, and other times Mother Nature is to blame.

Overfertilizing will cause a decrease in fruit production for all garden plants, not just vine crops. Excess fertilizer pushes the plant into grow mode, where the effort of the plant is directed to making foliage instead of setting fruit. Plants will eventually push out of this phase, but early fruit production has already been lost. Overfertilizing is the main gardener-caused reason for decreased fruit set.

When Mother Nature is to blame, there are numerous reasons for growing problems.

If you have flowers, but no fruit is setting on, there are a couple of things to look at.

Are these the first blossoms the plant is producing? If so, they may be all male flowers, since male flowers are always the first to appear. To find out, look behind the bloom. If there's nothing there, it's a male flower. If, however, there's a miniature fruit, it's a female flower. If there are no female flowers on the plant, all you can do is wait for them to appear.

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