Friday, July 31, 2015

Why and How I Pollinate Our Pumpkin and Squash Plants

Our pumpkin patch is doing OK this year.  Some of the plants are so far behind, but I'm hoping they start to set fruit soon.

When I tell people I pollinate our pumpkin and squash plants by hand, they look at me like I'm talking a foreign language.  They tell me they never knew anything about squash pollination.

First, I'll you the reasons why I do this. Then I will show you how I do it.

Reason No. 1 -  I can't trust the bees to do it for me.  Have you ever noticed a squash or pumpkin get to be about 2 inches big, then shrivel up and fall off the vine?  That is because it wasn't pollinated.  We really don't have that many bees here and we have so many pumpkin plants that I don't think they can keep up.

Reason No. 2 - I don't want cross pollination on our heritage varieties.  For us, this really only applies to our zucchini and acorn squash right now.  All of our pumpkins are hybrids, so it doesn't matter for them.  When you have cross pollination, the seeds won't grow the same exact plant you got the seeds from.  I save our zucchini and acorn squash seeds and want to know what I'm planting.

Those are the the 2 most important reasons.  Now on to the technique.

First, I get outside in the morning, before it gets too hot.  The flowers only are open in the morning and I don't want to miss them.

Then I look for the female flowers.

You know it's a female flower, because it has a little fruit at the base of it.  They also usually grow along the bottom vines.
Here is the centre of the female flower.

Then, I look for a male flower.

The male has the long stamen in it with the pollen all along it.
I break the male flower off, leaving some of the stem.  Then I tear off all the petals, leaving just the stamen.  Then I rub the stamen all inside the female flower.

And that should do it.  All squash plants work the same way.

Although I go out every morning, I still don't see every female flower.  When I really start looking, I have found a few pumpkins that never got pollinated and have fallen off the vine.  I have also found a couple big pumpkins that the bees got to before me and I didn't even know they were growing.  I love it when the vines start to die and I find quite a few pumpkins that were sneakily growing with no one knowing.

Thanks for stopping by!

This post is linked up to;  The Homesteading Hippy  Raising Homemakers  Little Family Adventure
Pieced Pastimes

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Berry Patch - Deep Mulch

I am so leery of even blogging about this. It seems every time I do blog about something I am trying, it turns out in failure.  The idea of this seems good to me though and maybe some of you have some experience you can share with us as well.

I have been able to get a lot of wood chips from a very nice neighbour of ours. They have a deal with the tree clipping company to drop their tree mulch off at their house.  So, I wanted to mulch our berry patch very deeply to keep weeds at bay.

You can't tell, but the plants at the bottom of the above picture are blueberries and rhubarb.  There is a row of raspberries at the top.

Before I shoveled all the mulch out there, I laid down folded cardboard boxes and then topped those with about 4 inches of mulch.  I left 4 holes in between each row of fruit to plant all our squash plants. All the fruit are new transplants,so I knew there would still be room in between them for the squash.

Here are some pictures from today;

The rhubarb has grown, but the blueberries are still the same size.  The squash plants are doing very well in the holes I left for them.  I really like having them there, because it frees up space in our garden.  The raspberries at the top of the picture are bearing some fruit now.

I grabbed this headboard from the dump the other day and am using it for a support for some of our blackberries.
So far it is really easy to pull any weeds that grow through the mulch and I like how neat and tidy it looks.  Other than the blueberries, all the plants are thriving and there is so much moisture under the wood chips.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Unknown Local Attraction

Well, unknown to us.

We have discovered an outdoor gem today.  We have lived in this area for 9 years and only heard about Discovery Canyon in Red Deer, Alberta last year.  Our neighbour told us there is an outdoor man made, but quite natural, water "slide" with a little pool at the end only 45 minutes from our house.  And the great thing about it, is it's free!

I had to look it up online, because I really knew nothing about it.  It looked awesome on the Internet and we made plans with our neighbour to go today.  We got there at 11 am and were the first people there. It was cloudy all morning and cleared up right when we got there.  It was great for about 45 minutes, having the whole place to ourselves.

The kids had so much fun going down the slide all day.  I only wish we knew of it a few years ago.

Here are some pictures;

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Stampede Time Again

We always look forward to our local stampede.  There are so many activities to take in and we love the exciting atmosphere.

This year, Rebekah and I actually worked at the stampede grounds cleaning in the bucking shoots and infield where all the action is at.  We had a blast! We worked together as a team and I so enjoyed out time together. She is so awesome and I just enjoy her company so much.

Here are some pictures of our time;

Our stampede always starts with a parade and this is our church's float advertising our upcoming VBS.

This was such a cute mini horse!

While we were cleaning in the back field, the chuck wagon races were going on. It was so exciting to be this close!

Part of our job was collecting all water bottles and cans. We noticed lots down in the bucking shoots and Rebekah was brave enough to go in there and get them all.

There was always time to make new friends.

Larry's parents were with us during stampede as well. We absolutely cherished our time with them. We were so grateful they were still able to make the 13 hour journey in their motor home, pulling their van.

That wraps up stampede week here. Now it's back to weeding!