Monday, November 3, 2008

A Pumpkin Birth Story

As you may have read, we have been trying unsuccessfully to grow a pumpkin since our garden was planted this summer. The pumpkin plants went from about 20 strong seedlings to one almost-dead plant and one just-clinging-to-life plant. This is about on par with my gardening luck. And as you may have read, I learned that pumpkins need to be pollinated by bees or other insects or they'll just wither and die. You can enter into the seedy world of hand pollinating pumpkins if you aren't prudish, but something's gotta get the boy flowers with the girl flowers or you won't have any pumpkins.

So I was excited when we saw our first male flower back in September. I know it was male because male flowers have a long stem. Everything I read said to begin expecting female flowers shortly after the males arrive. We waited and waited. Over a month went by. More male flowers. More male flowers… Farmer B and I decided that this plant might be of an alternative lifestyle, but we were going to love it and nurture it nonetheless.

Then Halloween weekend we're out in the backyard, when Mr. Keen-Eye Aidan screams "WE GREW A PUMPKIN! A PUMPKIN! LOOK! FOR HALLOWEEEEEEN!!" And dammit if he wasn't right. There on the end of the pumpkin vine was a little green pumpkin at the base of our first female flower. I know it's a female flower because they're closer to the stem and have a tiny green pumpkin at the base.
I jumped into the garden and searched madly for a male flower. Must pollinate now! Quickly! And I saw him - there was one pathetic droopy very sorry-for-himself shriveled up male flower clinging to life at the other end of the vine. Well this wasn't going to make any baby pumpkins. I had to try something so I snatched him off the vine and bunged him at the female flower who seemed to recoil her petals with disgust. I hear ya sister...

Maybe this is a bust. When we were at the local VFW pumpkin patch this weekend I spoke with the old guy manning the patch who said he had just gotten back from a class at the local extension office on what we can grow around here. He said that he asked them about growing pumpkins and they said "Don't try it. It'll never happen." So he decided to give up on his pumpkin quest and focus on sweet potatoes.

Maybe we ought to learn how to grow sweet potatoes too.


Caroline said...

Bi-curious pumpkin plants??

I say don't give up hope, you grow your gourd and take it back to the withered old VFW dude and shake it in his face.

And then make pumpkin pie.

engineeredgarden said...

Sweet potatoes would be fun, and have beautiful foliage. I still don't understand why the guy said pumpkins can't be grown in Fla. That's ridiculous.


Kate and Crew said...

EG - he said that the extension office guy said that there is too much bacteria in the soil, it's too humid and it's just the wrong growing conditions. I have no idea if it's true or not... but we're still plugging along with ours!

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