Wednesday, July 20, 2011

XXX Pumpkins

So Aunt KB gave me 8 pumpkin seedlings in the spring, and 6 made it into my garden. A few weeks after planting them, I got this email from her:

"Thanks for the shout out on the blog. Good luck on the pumpkins. Just so you know - you have to have "pumpkin sex" to get a good harvest."

UM, WHAT???? EXCUSE ME????


KB continues:

"The girl pumpkin flowers are the ones with the green pumpkin balls under them - the boy pumpkin flowers do not have this part. You take a q-tip and get friendly with the boy flower and then introduce the q-tip to the girl flower. You will have a limited time in which to have pumpkin sex - so take advantage of an open flower. If all goes well the pumpkin ball will start to grow and turn into a big pumpkin.  KB"

After I finished reading this email bomb, I sat in my chair dumbfounded for quite a while.  I had to help the pumpkins reproduce?  ARE YOU KIDDING ME???  THIS SHOULD HAVE BEEN MENTIONED WHEN YOU GAVE ME THE SEEDLINGS!!!!


Honestly, this was the first I had ever heard of helping plants produce fruit, and I know Martha has never mentioned this in her magazine/blog/website/show.  And also, isn't that what bees are for? 

I told KB she was crazy and bees handle this sort of thing and that I had no intention of helping pumpkins in the bedroom and this kind of thing really should have been discussed prior to me receiving the pumpkins and is this some crazy joke that more experienced gardeners play on newbies and OMG I gave one of those seedlings to MOM2 and are you telling me I need to have this conversation with her????

Fast forward several weeks later, when I have lots of flowers on my pumpkins (and zucchini for that matter) but no fruit.  I began to wonder if maybe KB was telling me the truth about the birds, bees and pumpkin business.


I attended a Master Gardener Q&A session where KB's wacky ideas about pumpkin pollination were confirmed. Turns out it not some crazy scheme cooked up by my aunt to make me do weird things to squash in my garden, but a way of helping nature out.  But believe me, I still tried to get out of the role of pumpkin pollinator.  I even whined to the Master Gardener, "Seriously, shouldn't bees be doing this?

And then she dropped a bomb on me..."Yes, but have you seen any bees in your garden this summer?"

And the truth is, I've only seen one or two bees all summer.  This is not good.


Dismayed by all this flowering-but-no-fruiting and bummed out by my lack of bees, I decided to bite the bullet.  I smushed some flowers together and hoped for the best.  Then I saw this:



See the golf-ball size pumpkin underneath the flower?  Maybe my pollination assistance had helped, even though the flower accompanying the baby pumpkin hadn't been smushed.  I thought my work was done, so I didn't mess with that flower.  I have come to regret that decision: here I am a week later, and it looks like that golf-ball size pumpkin is withering away rather than getting bigger.  Crap.

I'm having similar issues with my zucchini.  Lots of flowers but no squash so I started smushing flowers together there, too.


Now I do have three small zucchini growing, along with a question: Do I need to be pollinating every single female flower, or can I just do one or two and the plant will get the idea? 


This entire experience is leading me to think that next year, I either need to stay away from pumpkins or get myself a beehive in the backyard.  Pumpkin pollination might just be too much for this Martha wanna-be.  At any rate, I'll keep smushing flowers together and crossing my fingers that I get some pumpkins and zucchini in the fall!

5 comments:

Tom said...

I think everyone here would like to know if you played some soft music and and waited until dusk (dimming the lights) when you "helped" the pumpkins out.

Amanda said...

Wow, Tom! You seem to know a lot about this process. Are you available this weekend?...several blossoms are about to open. Bring your fave Barry White CD and a q-tip. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Ha Ha Ha

Love the post! No Joke.

Aunt KB

Sarah Eliza @ devastateboredom said...

ROFL. Oh my word, too funny. I seriously am interested in keeping a bee hive when I have a backyard though, so if you go that route I totally want updates.

Amanda said...

I wish I could have a beehive, but the Big Guy is just not seeing my vision on this. Maybe I'll have one installed while he's out one day, and then just pretend that I have absolutely no idea how it got there. :)