Mother Nature Takes Over-Bees Pollinating My Pumpkin Flowers

Last night before I came in for the night, I checked the pumpkin patch. I wanted to know if I’d have to head out early in the morning to pollinate any female flowers. For the past couple of days all we’ve had were male flowers.

Upon inspection I found two female flowers that were ready to bloom. This meant I’d be heading out to the garden first thing with paint brush in hand to pollinate some flowers.

At 6:30 Bell and I stepped out into the hot, humid morning and could see the huge yellow blooms on the pumpkin vines across the yard.

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As we got closer to the patch I couldn’t believe what I saw —

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BEES!

Yep, the bees have finally decided to take over the job of pollinating the pumpkin flowers.

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This is the first I have seen them in the pumpkin patch, and boy were they busy. Flying from one flower to the next stopping momentarily to pick up some pollen and then rushing to the next flower,

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and then finally heading over to the female flower — it was amazing.

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Although I enjoy the process of pollinating the pumpkin flowers, it’s nice to know that Mother Nature has stepped in to take over and do the job, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Pollinating Success – We’ve Got Pumpkins

At the risk of jinxing our crop, I have to share some pictures of the tiny pumpkins that seem to be surviving after I gave them a little help.

Just five days ago I hand pollinated three female flowers in the pumpkin patch because up until then every baby pumpkin that began to form, turned yellow and died within a few days (Hand Pollinating Pumpkins).

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Deciding that pollination might be the issue causing these pumpkins to die, I hand pollinated the three female flowers I found open. This is what they looked like this morning.

DSCF0063 DSCF0066 DSCF0067I have gone out to the patch every morning to see if there are any additional female flowers to pollinate, but so far I’ve only had male flowers. There are several females beginning to form on the vines though, so I will keep my fingers crossed that male flowers will bloom on the days that the female ones do so I can pollinate away.

Without getting too far ahead of myself, I can’t wait to pick these pumpkins and make fresh pumpkin pie! I know a lot can still go wrong with these little guys, but for now I am going to enjoy watching them grow and do whatever I  can to help them survive.

Sometimes even Mother Nature needs a hand and I am glad I was able to help, for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

Hand Pollinating My Pumpkin Flowers

Success in growing pumpkins in my garden is a long shot. Most years when I have planted these, the vines thrive and take over the area they are given, produce a ton of flowers, tease me with green little pumpkins, then the tiny pumpkins turn yellow and die.

There are several reasons this might happen according to my research: watering issues, sun issues, fungus, or a lack of pollination. In prior years I just let nature take it’s course, and ended up buying pumpkins at the farmer’s market.

This year I decided to try and remedy the problem. After eliminating water, sun and fungus as potential reasons for the pumpkins dying off, I decided it had to be a pollination issue. So, I did the same thing I did with my cucumbers last year, I gave Mother Nature a hand.

The process is very easy. First you identify the male flowers. They do not have a bulge at the base of the flower and a long anther in the center.

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The female flower has a bulge at the base as well as a stigma in the center, much thicker and larger than the male anther.

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With a paint brush I simply touch the male anther, collecting some of its pollen, and then touch the paint brush to the female stigma. I have no idea if this is going to help the situation, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

There are always going to be challenges when gardening, finding ways to remedy these situations is an ongoing learning process. This could work, but even if it doesn’t, I learned a lot about the anatomy of the pumpkin plant today, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Garden Update – June 20, 2015

Things are proceeding quite nicely in the gardens. While we were on vacation the weather cooperated perfectly and upon our return we were greeted with flourishing green plants, spreading like wildfire.

Bush and Pole Beans two days before we left on vacation.

Bush and pole beans the day before we left. Hubby and I put the poles up the night we left.

Bush and pole beans the day before we left. Hubby and I put the poles up the night we left.

Beans one week later.

Notice how the pole beans climbed almost to the top of the poles in the week we were gone.

Notice how the pole beans climbed almost to the top of the poles in the week we were gone.

Cucumbers before we left on vacation.

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Cucumbers after I had to tie them to the A-frame one week later.

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Corn and pumpkins before we left.

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Corn and pumpkin vines that had grown beyond the garden and had to be flipped back towards the corn, one week later.

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I hope this pace keeps up.  Already there are tiny cucumbers on the cucumber vines and lots more flowers. The pumpkins have flowers as well.

It’s amazing how quickly things change in the garden.  Looking at it day in and day out I don’t always notice the changes. What a difference a week makes.  I’ll definitely have to start paying better attention, otherwise I might not witness all the wonders nature has to offer in the garden.

My garden is growing, growing, growing, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Seedling Update #4 – The Waiting Game

For more than a week now I’ve been working on transplanting the seeds I sowed nearly a month ago.  I have far more plants than I anticipated, but cannot bring myself to pulling any of them yet. Who knows if all my transplants will make it or if the other seeds I’ve sown are even going to sprout.  At this point I want to cushion the garden so I have enough plants, even if they are all tomato and pepper, to fill every square inch.

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My broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and pumpkin plants have all sprouted, but for now they are going to hang out in their original pots.  I’ve found lots of information online on how to transplant tomato and pepper seedlings into larger pots before planting them in the garden, but have not been so lucky when it comes to these other plants.  I figure I’ll wait until they have another week or two of growth and then try transplanting a few of them to see if they survive the shock and continue to grow.

This afternoon I planted three new varieties of peppers that I ordered online.  These peppers will be for canning.  For the past four years I have bought a bushel of peppers from a local farmer and canned them.  This year my goal is to grow my own.  I bought Szegedi, Romainian, and White Cloud peppers.  All are sweet and either yellow or white with a very thick flesh — perfect for pickling.

I am so excited for the weather to warm up so I can get out and start preparing the gardens for incoming plants.  Being in Michigan however, there is no telling when that might be.  Just to give you a little taste of what it’s like here:  Two days ago it was 54 degrees and sunny outside, one day ago we woke to 3″ of snow on the ground, and today it was 52 degrees and sunny again.  Not the best track record for getting outside and making any progress.

I have a few more plants that I will be able to transplant in a few days, but then it becomes the waiting game.  There won’t be a whole lot to do with the plants until they start growing and the leaves begin to multiply.  Already some of the tomato plants are getting a new set of leaves, giving me hope that perhaps some of these will actually make it to the garden.

I have big plans this spring/summer and truly hope my efforts will be rewarded.  For now, I am enjoying the smell the plants growing in the dining room and the dirt under my nails, for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Tastes Of Fall – Pumpkin Bread

There are so many things that scream “FALL” when I hear them, see them, smell them, or taste them, and one of my absolute favorites is pumpkin bread.

Last week one of our local grocery stores had pie pumpkins on sale and I picked up 6 to can and bake with.

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After canning 7 quarts of pumpkin, I used the remaining couple of quarts in several of my favorite recipes — the first being Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread with Crumble Topping.

Pumpkin-Cranberry Bread w/Crumble Topping

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  • 2 1/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tbsp. Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/2 tsp. Salt
  • 2 Eggs
  • 2 Cups White Sugar
  • 2 Cups Fresh Pureed Pumpkin
  • 1/2 Cup Peanut or Vegetable Oil
  • 1 Cup Dried Cranberries

Topping:

  • 1/2 Cup Flour
  • 1/2 Cup White Sugar
  • 1/4 Cup Cold Butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour 2 9×5 inch loaf pans.
  2. In mixing bowl, combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Combine eggs, sugar, pumpkin and oil in mixing bowl.  Beat until just blended.  Stir the wet mixture into the dry until batter is moistened.  Fold in cranberries.  Spoon batter into pans.
  4. Combine topping ingredients in small bowl.  Cut with pastry cutter until crumbly.  Sprinkle on top of batter in pans.
  5. Bake in oven 50 – 60 minutes.

This recipe makes two loaves which is great for sharing.  Unfortunately, one of these bread didn’t even make it the day with Hubby and Grace around.  We’ve already had to break open the second bread and aren’t even on day 2.

Fall is a wonderful time of year, especially with pumpkin, apple, and pear season in full swing, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Sqeaky-Clean Pumpkin Seeds

It’s pumpkin time!  With fall comes pumpkins and with pumpkins comes pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin cookies, and pumpkin seeds.

No matter what I use a fresh pumpkin for, I am always sure to make good use of all the wonderful seeds inside.  The only trouble is cleaning them.

For years I’d struggle to separate the seeds from the guts and get frustrated because no matter how hard I tried, there would still be strings of pumpkin on my seeds when I baked them.

Not any more!  I learned this little trick through an act of frustration.  A couple of years ago I was too tired to clean the seeds as soon as I pulled them out of the pumpkin, so I put them in a bowl of water until I found enough energy to work on them.  When I came back about 30 minutes later, all the strings and tiny pieces of pumpkin had sunk to the bottom while all the seeds were floating on top.  What a time saver!

How To Clean Your Pumpkin Seeds – The Fast And Easy Way:

Step 1:  Remove seeds from pumpkin.

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Step 2:  Remove the larger pieces of pumpkin pulp from the seeds.

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Step 3:  Place pumpkin seeds in a bowl twice as large as you need and fill with enough water so the pumpkin seeds can float to top.

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Step 4:  Allow seeds to sit for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring every few minutes.  Then, carefully remove clean pumpkin seeds floating on top of water.

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That’s it!  This is what the water looks like with the remaining pumpkin pulp sitting on the bottom of the bowl.

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I love working with pumpkins and using the pulp as well as the seeds.  Finding a trick that cuts down the time I have to spend in the kitchen makes it even better, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.