I planted several varieties of gourds last summer that produced hundreds of white blossoms. But after the blossoms dropped, most of the tiny gourds dried up and fell off, too—I ended up with only six mature gourds. What's the secret to a more bountiful harvest?
—Linda Williams, Aquilla, Texas
Melinda: Warm weather and lots of bees are the keys to successfully growing gourds. Poor pollination can cause the problem you describe. The first flowers produced on the gourd plant are all male flowers. Later on, the plant develops both male and female flowers. Then bees pollinate the plants, which is followed by fruit formation. To avoid another heartbreak harvest, don't use insecticides on flowering plants. Many of these products are harmful to bees, thereby reducing pollination and fruit formation. You also can hand-pollinate the blossoms. Use a small paintbrush to move the pollen from the anthers of the male flowers (those with straight inner stems) to the stigma in the center of the female flowers (those with a swollen base).