Want to play God with Pumpkins?

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Here’s an image of a pumpkin I recently crossed with a small kayak..

I like playing God with our pumpkins. Actually I like doing it with our zucchini, gourds, squash and other members of the cucurbita family. Basically, all you do it you get the male flower bit and rub it on the female flower bit (regular readers know how scientifically high-brow this blog it, so I hope I haven’t lost you).

Doing this probably wont produce any weird fruit initially, but if you collect seeds from your fruit, and plant them, you may very well get weird fruit.

You have to know which flowers are male and which ones are female to do this right?

Here’s some helpful images…

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female on the left, male on the right. Note the swollen bit on the female flower- that is the fruit ready to develop. The male flower doesn’t have one of these.

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check out the different shaped bits inside. I just learned what they are called from this image but I still prefer “bits”

So then you just pick a male flower (there are usually heaps to choose from). Then you peel off the outer petals so you are left with the stamen (or “bit” if you want to get technical). Then you rub the male stamen into the female stigma and, hey presto- you just played God (well actually you just did what humans have been doing for about 12,000 years and bees have been doing for a lot longer!)

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male bit in my hand, female bit still in the attached flower

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just rub the male bit into the female bit. Some people even leave it in there to prevent bees cross-pollinating with other types of plants.

Actually there are some really good reasons for doing this artificial pollination (not just because of the feeling of incredible power you wield).

Sometimes you might have a problem with no fruit forming on your pumpkins/etc. This can be because your female flowers are hidden or not accessible to pollinators (bees, butterflies, etc.). So hand pollination can help this problem. Added to this, you might want to just hand pollinate to ‘guarantee’ pollination. Vegetable plants are a big investment of your time/space/etc.  so its good to cover your bases.

Also, you might want to keep your veggies “true to type” which means you don’t want them to cross with other veggies in your garden.

Happy pollinating!

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2 thoughts on “Want to play God with Pumpkins?

  1. lea says:

    Hi there, I was recently talking to an italian neighbour and he was telling me that if you like to stuff the flowers for eating you can “play bee” with a cotton bud rather than pull male flowers apart! Double yum!

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