Hand pollinating pumpkins

12 Dec

Female Golden Nugget flower

Pollination normally goes down without a hitch around here. I don’t seem to be short of pollinating insects, and I love to see the bees flying about on bright sunny days.

Unfortunately I haven’t always had great success with zucchinis, squash and other members of the cucurbit family. Last year most of my zucchinis failed to set, and this year I’m not taking any chances.

Male Golden Nugget flower

I’m growing quite a few different cucurbits this year – zucchini, button squash, kent pumpkin, rockmelon, wee b little pumpkin and one of my favourites – golden nugget. The golden nuggets are a bush variety of pumpkin that grow more like a zucchini. I adore them quartered, seeds scraped out and roasted with their skin on. They are also great for stuffing.

These are the first of the pumpkins to flower, and seeing as we’ve had so much rain, I’ve been giving them a helping hand.

I’ve been out there, keeping an eye out for female flowers (the ones with a little bulb behind them). When I see one open, I’ve been plucking a male flower (one on a long stalk without the little bulb), removing the petals and brushing its pollen into the centre of the female.

Baby Golden Nuggets todayI took the photos above about a week ago, and so far not a single female flower has failed to set fruit. I have little golden nuggets all over the place, and I can’t wait to roast some.

Eating seasonally, I really miss pumpkins!

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10 Responses to “Hand pollinating pumpkins”

  1. Maggie Walters December 12, 2011 at 5:15 pm #

    i am soooo impressed! wow!

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney December 12, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

      Thanks Maggie, but I reckon there’s a good chance they would have been all good without me. I just like to feel like I’m contributing 🙂

  2. Kate December 12, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

    I’m impressed with your perserverence. So far we have never had to do that. But I know it’s worth the work to be able to get a good pumpkin crop. We missed out on pumpkins last year just because the crop failed to flourish- too hot and not enough water, this year they are looking good. Fingers crossed, we have gone all year without pumpkin.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney December 12, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

      Kate, I’m guessing that probably means that the exercise is quite unnecessary 🙂 Even more so because my zucchinis are mostly setting just fine this year without my intervention. It’s just that I love golden nuggets so much that I want to maximise the yield.

  3. Barbara Good December 12, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    So basically you the pumpkin match maker then L. So far my zucchinis are finding love all on their own, I have heaps of little ones coming on and today picked the first two. My pumpkins are still only babies, they got planted quite late, but I’ll know what to do if they’re a bit shy in coming forward… if you know what I mean.

    • L from 500m2 in Sydney December 12, 2011 at 8:48 pm #

      That’s definitely me – I should charge for my services 🙂
      I’m sure you’ll soon be begging for zucchini recipes – Kate (above, from Purple Pear Organics) has a great zucchini chocolate cake recipe on her blog. I wanted to use it to make Little D’s birthday cake, but P reckons that’s just cruel.

  4. Sarah December 13, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    I can’t wait for the button squash. They’re so nice, but they deteriorate so quickly once they’re picked. It will be lovely to have super fresh ones.

  5. Lilian December 13, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    I’ve found the same for cucurbits. Zucchinis just set fruit (and grow right before your eyes) whilst pumpkins and rock melons take forever and I’ve had to go on matchmaking rounds as well – I’ve read that you’re not supposed to fertilize more than 3 per plant but I’ve never kept to this rule (I’m a bit greedy like that)… and just keep going… I think the fact that zucchinis tend to be more compact whilst pumpkins and rock melons go a wandering so it may be harder for insects to help with pollination…

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. The Mechanics of Reproduction – Hand Pollinating Pumpkins | Suburban Tomato - January 14, 2012

    […] 500m2 in Sydney did a lovely piece on this a few weeks ago and while I tread very similar ground here I had the photos so I thought I would write on the topic anyway.  Besides I see no problem with cluttering up the internet with pumpkin related posts. […]

  2. Trombochino Genealogy - January 29, 2012

    […] type. I could try hand pollinating, using a male from the same vine to fertilise a female flower. 500m2 in Sydney has a good little post about how. But self-pollination is only successful about a third of the time with cucumbers, so I might not […]

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