Pumpkins And The Powers That Bee

On my list of favourite things to grow pumpkins come in at number 2. If you hadn’t already guessed tomatoes take out the top spot.

Bee Pollinating Butternut Flower

My philosophy for growing pumpkins is a very simple one. Find a good sunny site, dig in a generous quantity of compost and “watch em grow”. A regular watering regime is also necessary to ensure that the soil remains moist but not wet. Like most vegetables, pumpkins don’t like wet feet. Watering only the main roots as with tomatoes lessens the incidence of fungal growth and diseases such as powdery mildew.

Pumpkins are classified as a fruit and are part of the cucurbitaceae family.

My Pumpkin Patch

If you’re new to growing pumpkins my advice is not to plant them in your main garden¬† as they have a tendency to take over to the detriment of everything else. An ideal growing location could be an over grown part of your garden or perhaps an area that is difficult or unsuitable for growing other vegetables. Unless you have a good amount of space forget about growing pumpkins.

I’m fortunate as we have a large section which means a separate area just for growing pumpkins. Assuming this year’s pumpkins do as well as last years they will cover most of this area and to boot will ultimately end up growing in and over the nearby cabbage trees.

Hopefully I will be able to post some more photos at harvest time around late March early April.

Growing pumpkins last year required very little effort and we ended up with a reasonable harvest but this season it’s could be a very different.

To begin with 2010 has brought with it more bird problems than usual and my pumpkins seedlings didn’t escape unscathed. The blackbirds and thrushes seemed to delight in scratching them out however some pieces of strategically placed netting solved this problem.

Young Pumpkin

Now a couple of months later the pumpkins are growing well however many of the young pumpkins are changing from green to an ugly yellow and rotting off the vine. My first thought was that perhaps they were getting too much water but I now think its more likely due to not being pollinated.

There are plenty of bumble bees about and they’re busy amongst the pumpkins but there doesn’t seem to be many female flowers for them to pollinate.

Male flowers like the one below abound but as we all know “it takes two to tango”.

Male Pumpkin Flower

When I can find one the female flower looks like this.

Female Pumpkin Flower

Those female flowers that have been successfully pollinated are developing as usual, see the photos below.

Marina di Chioggia 01

This Marina di Chioggia has two pumpkins on it when in reality there should be at least four times that number. Sadly most of the female flowers have not been pollinated. When and if they reach this stage I feel comfortable that they will continue through to maturity.

Queensland Blue

This is about 10-15 days after pollination. Queensland Blue

Marina di Chioggia 03

That’s better, looking like a real pumpkin should. I’ve never grown this variety before but they came highly recommended. Purchased seed by mail order from Kings Seeds.

During this coming week I’m going to give my pumpkins a little help with some hand pollination. Don’t know how well this will work as it’s all new territory for me however it should prove to be interesting.

Watch this space for future updates.

Interesting pumpkin facts

4 Responses

  1. Jane
    Jane |

    Great blog and I love the quality photos.
    My main pumpkins seem to be a bit short on female flowers this year, probably a combination of cold start to the season and needing a bit more manure.
    In the past years I have helped with the fertilisation and it works but this year I thought I’d leave it. I am starting to think the plant keeps producing female flowers until the optimum number for the plant is fertilised.
    However I still self fertilise if I am keeping the pumpkin for seed as then I can be sure of the parentage.
    I have grown Triamble from Kings Seeds which are fantastic keepers and yum as well. I have just cut into the last one from 2009 season and it is still sweet and dry.
    Good luck with the pumpkins, hope more set for you.

  2. JJacobsen
    JJacobsen |

    We grew a small pumpkin patch one year, but they didn’t get very big. I don’t think we watered them enough.

  3. Larry Beach
    Larry Beach |

    I noticed that my pumpkin flowers are all males, and after about three days when they bloomed they close up and just drop off the vine. I have not seen any female flowers yet. I do feed the plants everyday. Do you think that is too much? Thanks for the tip of not putting water on leaves so they won’t get the fungus, early in the grow, I had a problem with that.

    V/R,

    Larry

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