You may remember that the kids and I planted pumpkins this past spring and I’m happy to report we’ve had some success.  Here are three of our pumpkins growing over at the Albany Park community garden.  They are pretty happy and seem to be making their way behind the raised bed of the tomatoes.  In hindsight I think I would have trellised them to make use of the vertical space we have.  Definitely making a note about that for next year.

pollinating pumpkinsAt this moment we have one blooming flower and two spent flowers.  After talking with the Plantwoman she mentioned I should probably hand pollinate the pumpkins.

(insert crickets)

“How do I do that?” I say.  “With a paintbrush” she says.  “Yeah, but how?” I say “Do you have a video or something showing how to do it?”

A few minutes later I have THIS video on my phone and all makes a lot more sense.  I watched it a few times specifically watching for what the difference is between male and female flowers which, although not specifically mentioned in the video, is clear to see.  So, off to the garden with myself to see about my pumpkins.

hand pollinating pumpkinsI check our one blossom and it seems to be a male flower.  So, I check the other spent blooms, they too seem to be male flowers.

male pumpkin flowerSo, no hand pollinating for me today.  We have quite a few more blossoms coming up so we aren’t done yet.  Unfortunately, according to my research, the way the blossoms are stretching up from the stem means they are also likely male flowers.  Female flowers would be closer to the vine with a pre-fruit or ovary just behind the flower just waiting to be fertilized.  I guess this happened to my Aunt last year and there isn’t really anything one can do about it except wait.

hand pollinating pumpkins

Why is this important?  Bees.  Or the lack of them in most cases.  Since pumpkins grow separate male and female flowers they rely on bees and other insects to pollinate the female flowers.  Without pollination you won’t see any fruit so you may have to take matters into your own hands, literally.  Male flowers are first to appear to help attract the pollinators with the female flowers following.  Because of that I’m not going to worry too much about only having male flowers right now.  When the time comes, however, I will know what I need to do.