Friday, July 30, 2010

Pumpkins, zuchinni and squash, oh my!

This year, my daughter planted pumpkin seeds as part of a kids' project led by the Master Gardeners program at the Puyallup spring fair. Given the size they grow to, they were the first of our plants to be transferred to the yard this year.

About a month ago, I bought some zuchinni and butternut squash starts and planted them outside also, because these are my two favorite vegetables.

When each of her two pumpkin planted sprouted one flower about two weeks ago, I proudly told my daughter that the spots with the flowers would turn into pumpkins. Then I read this post by Crunchy Chicken. Pumpkin plants need male and female flowers? (And how do you know which one is which?) The male and female flowers need to pollinate to actually produce a pumpkin? Sometimes the gardener needs to help the pollination process along by hand? (And how in the world do you do that??!) Huh??!!

So when the two little flowers died, I despaired the possibility of my daughter's pumpkins ever growing.

But not so fast. I was listening to "Gardening in the Northwest" on radio station KPTK-Seattle on Saturday, and someone aked about squash plants and pollination. Scott Conner, who leads that show, answered that pumpkins, squashes, zuchinnis, etc. tend to produce a few early flowers that die, and then produce a boatload of flowers again during the hottest month of summer, August. The second batch, he assured, will most likely pollinate and produce fruit. He added that zuchinni, in fact, can go from nothing to fruit in a matter of hours.

When I woke up this morning, my zuchinni plants, which had NO flowers yesterday, had about a dozen flowers on them this morning, and the pumpkin plants have re-flowered. (Nothing yet on the butternut squash). So I still have reason for hope! I'll keep you posted as "gourd watch" develops.

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