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ASK THE GARDENERS. Questions & Answers

Q We are very fond of zucchini squash and regular summer squash. We have wondered why the first blooms of squash fall off without forming any fruits. We have noticed this happening to cucumbers, also. In fact, some blooms continue to fall off all summer long. T.F.

Norman, Okla.

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All members of the cucurbitacae family (squash, pumpkins, cucumbers, melons, gourds) have separate male and female blooms on the same plant. All produce on average 15 to 20 male blossoms to one female bloom. Female blooms have a little knob right behind the flower. Male blooms have none. You will note that the ones that fall off are the male blooms. However, thrips (tiny, thin, fast-moving insects) may cause drop of female blooms, too. Nature provides extra male blooms to ensure pollination.

Take advantage of the extra squash and pumpkin blossoms by making them into soup, putting them in salads, frying them in batter, stuffing them, or using in other delectable dishes. There is even a variety that has been bred especially for its large, delicious blossoms. It's called Butterblossom and produces tasty squash. It takes only 40 days to produce, making it possible for folks in some areas to do an extra planting later on.

If you have a garden question, send it along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, to the Garden Page, The Christian Science Monitor, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115.

Doc and Katy Abraham are nationally known horticulturists.

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