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Pollination of Cucumbers, Squash, and Melons

As you plant cucumbers, squash, and melons you may think about the possibility of these plants cross pollinating and producing fruits with off flavors or some bizarre new fruit you would not want to eat. Have no fear, the fruit from these plants will all be just as expected in regard to appearance and taste. Yes, some squash may cross pollinate with other squash but the fruit will not be effected because it has the genetic material of only the plant that produced it, that is, the plant that you put into the ground. The seed is another matter. It is a product of the pollination and may contain genetic material from two different plants. If they are unrelated, any plant that grows from that seed will reflect the genetic make up of both parents, for better or worse.

Cross pollination will make a big difference to gardeners who like to save the seed for next year’s garden so lets take a look at what kinds of melons, squash, and cucumbers will cross pollinate. The key is to take notice of the species name of the plant (that’s the second word of the botanical name). Members of the same species can cross pollinate but members of different species can not. Here are some of the common kinds of squash, melons and cucmbers you may grow.

Group A Cucurbita pepo:

    Summer squash
    Yellow crook or straight neck
    Zucchini, Cocozelle
    Scallop/patty pan

    Winter Squash

    Gourds and many other ornamental types.

    Many pumpkins including Cinderella, Big Tom, and Connecticut Field.

Group B Curcurbita moschata

    Winter Squash
    Butternut squash

    Dickinson Field
    Golden Cushaw
    Kentucky Field

Group C Cucurbita maxima

    Winter squash

    Big Max
    King of the Mammoths
    Mammoth Chile
    Mammoth Prize
    Atlantic Giant

    Turk’s Turban

Group D Cucurbita mixta:

    Green-Striped Cushaw
    Japanese Pie
    Tennessee Sweet Potato
    White Cushaw
    Mixta Gold

Group E Cucumis sativus:

    All slicing and pickling cucumbers EXCEPT:
    Alpha cucumbers
    Lemon cucumbers

Group F Cucumis melo:

    Snake cucumber or Serpent melon
    All muskmelons

Group G Citrullus lanatus:

    All watermelons
    All citrons

The key to this whole thing is the group in which a plant belongs. Members of the same group can cross pollinate; the fruit/vegetable will be as expected but the seeds may not produce the offspring you expect. Plants in different groups do not cross pollinate so fruit/vegetable and seeds will be as expected and the seeds can be collected and used to produce new plants. If you want to grow plants in the same group and have reliable seed you can do so but you will have to grow the plants ¼-1 mile apart depending on the species!

Vegetable Gardening pointer

Recommended Reading:

Growing Vegetable Soup
The Art of Simple Food II
Incredible Vegetables from Self-Watering Pots
The Art of Simple Food
Chez Panisse Café Cookbook
Kitchen Garden Experts
Eddies Garden
Groundbreaking Food Gardens
Book Review:Making the Most of Your Allotment
Small Spaces Big Ideas
The Joy of Pickling
Gardening with Less Water
The Little Gardener
Salad Samurai
Power Vegetables!
Gardening the Mediterranean Way
My Pantry
The Dirt Cure
The Ultimate Guide to Gardening
Chez Panisse Vegetables
The Friendship Garden Green: Thumbs Up
Food Rules
Lettuce Grows on the Ground
A Plant Based Life
Growing a Feast
The 22 Day Revolution Cookbook
The Urban Homesteading Cookbook
Dandelion & Quince
Eat your Drink
The Broad Fork
The Book of Greens
Eating on the Wild Side
Salad for President
The Power Greens Cookbook
In My Kitchen
Vegetable Literacy
Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
Root to Leaf
On Vegetables
The Vegetables We Eat
Improving Your Soil
The Heirloom Life Gardener
Garbage Helps Our Garden Grow
Compost! Growing Gardens from Your Garbage
American Grown
Detox Kitchen Vegetables
Simple  Green Meals
Poulets & Legumes
What's in the Garden
Raised Bed Gardening
Beginner Gardening
The Modern Cook's Year
Mostly Plants
The Gardener's Guide to Common-Sense Pest Control

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