I had no idea what I was getting myself into when we planted squash and cantaloupe. Who knew there could be so many things to consider when growing a garden. So, from what I hear, I can be in serious trouble with these 2 fruits if I don't have enough bees around.
They are supposed to come in the early morning (shortly after sunrise), so maybe I'm just not seeing them. You know I'm not awake that early. But, I really have not ever been aware of bees around our house. We have plenty of wasps and love bugs, but I rarely see a bee. So, I had to try some hand pollenation. I found this site that gives a great step-by-step and in a humerous way. Maybe I am just in a haze of gardening, but see if you find this as funny as I did...
Jokes about hand pollination abound, both in the internet and in the field. Does anyone object to helping their plant to have sex? Okay, with that said, on to the learning....
By pollinating your pumpkin by hand, you assure a number of things. First, you use pollen from a male pumpkin from a plant you select(versus Mother Nature- -random?). This eliminates breeding a giant pumpkin with a nearby Zucchini Squash. Second, it significantly increases the likelihood of successful pollination of the female flower, although nothing is an ironclad guarantee. Third, it will increase the likelihood of pollinating all segments of the female flower.
Step by step:
1. Time pollination for the day that a female flower opens it's bud. With a little experience, you can usually tell the night before when it is ready to open.
2. Pollinate the plants in the early morning. The female flowers will close later in the day.
3. Select a male flower. Pull off the petals to expose the stamen which contains the pollen.
4. To make sure the pollen is mature. Touch the stamen with your finger and see if tiny yellow specks(the pollen) come off on your hand.
5. Using the stamen itself (some growers opt to transfer it to a soft paint brush). Gently rub the pollen onto the inside stigma of the female flower. Make sure to come in contact with all segments of the stigma. I leave the stamen inside the female flower. It is not necessary.
6. Hand pollination is now complete! Was it good for you?(Ooops. Sorry, but I could not resist!).