The pumpkins had a bumpy start to their success this year. Bees were late arriving and it appeared there were not enough of them to fly around to all the pumpkin flowers. My brother and his wife have a bit of a green finger. So I got the low down on how the pumpkins were pollinated. It was an enlightening lesson on ‘sex in the pumpkin patch’. Through trial and error they finally found the magical pollinating solution.
“I first used a paint brush to dust the female pumpkin flowers but that wasn’t sterile enough.
Next, I broke off the male flower, with a single yellow stalk inside and each morning when all the flowers opened, I brushed the male onto the female parts.
If the flower stays green and grows then it’s set. But if the yellow flower drops off, it has not been pollinated.”
It was a tricky process, pollinating by hand each individual female pumpkin flower, but one which worked. I was amazed when they showed me the process. They were rewarded with a very good crop of pumpkins which they shared with family.
“We’ve had pumpkins weighing up to about 6-7kg. That’s a lot for one pumpkin.”
For pumpkins to pollinate they need bees or a helping hand. Two types of bees which would normally pollinate the pumpkins: the European Honeybee which are bigger and bite, and the Australian small black bee which don’t bite.
Also you can tell when the pumpkins are ready to pick. They start to get an external cloudy appearance as the one above left. I have learned so much about pollinating pumpkins that nature continues to fascinate me.