Saturday, April 10, 2010 my veggie patch

So I think I have about 5 pumpkin plants currently growing in my veggie patch. I planted three of them and two of the grew out of the compost I added to the garden beds in preparation for some other veggies. I can't believe how prolifically they grow. As a result I thought I was going to be inundated with pumpkins and we would be having roast pumpkin salads and pumpkin soup until we couldn't face it any longer. But alas this hasn't been the case.

I have seen what I thought to be mini pumpkins starting to grow at the base of a number of flowers. But since the vines have been overtaking the garden for nearly three months and nothing more than a couple of these miniature pumpkins I thought it was time to do a bit of research!

So findings are:
  • pumpkin plants have separate male and female flowers
  • the flowers with the mini pumpkins below the flower are the female flowers!
  • pollination doesn't always happen naturally and you can assist this process.

Aaahhhh, so now the penny has dropped that I need to help things along!

So every afternoon when I water my veggies I have been examining the pumpkin flowers in the patch. It turns out I have a plethora of male flowers and only the occasional female flower. Also the flowers don't seem to last that long, even though there always seems to be flowers on the vines. I think they are only open for a day or two (at least the female flowers) and they seem to open their petals more in the earlier part of the day. All very interesting!

After spotting a number of lady flowers suitable for pollination (with help from yours truly) I obtained a fine example of the male flower and set about ripping off the petals of the flower to appropriately expose the male reproductive parts of the flowers and then stuck them into the female flower to rub the pollen directly onto the female reproductive parts trying not to damage the female flower, as this is the part of the vine that will end up bearing the pumpkin!

Well, I think I have been successful in at least one of my pollination events, with one mini-pumpkin seemingly growing into a moderately sized fruit at this present point. I also find this encouraging as I believe it has only been about a week since I set upon this task.

I have pollinated another two female flowers on the vines, so will see how these take as well. Will report back and let you know whether these adventures lead to an edible, home grown pumpkin.

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