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

1 comment:

  1. Crystal. Thank you for the interesting lesson on pollinating squash plants. It must feel good when it is harvest time and you see the fruits of your labour.