Birds do it, bees do it, and, nowadays we do it. After losing our first Polytunnel pumpkin, we’re not leaving anything to chance!
Assuming all has gone well, sometime in July/August, your plant will begin to form flowers. First you will notice the male flowers. They will often flourish a week or two before the first female comes upon the scene.
These can be found on a long stem that is fairly thin and shoots up several inches to a foot above the vine. He has no little baby pumpkin but in the centre of the bright yellow flowers you will find the stamen which contains the all-important pollen. There should be a mature male or two ready to pollinate whenever a female matures
are easily identified as a baby pumpkin will be located between the stem and the golden flower, it will be close to the vine and the stem will only be a couple of inches long. In the centre is a multi-segmented stigma which must be pollinated in order for the fruit to develop.
To make it easier to insert right down the bottom of the female flower, take the petals off the male flower to expose the pollen at the base of the flower and with the stripped male flower on hand, now it is time to hunt for an opened female flower. Once a female flower is found, brush the pollen all over the stigma of the female flower.
You may have to repeat the exercise the day after and the day after that just to make sure that enough pollen has been produced. When fertilization has taken place, the female pumpkin will start to swell and the flower will drop off.
If pollination is successful, its baby bump should begin growing and will slowly swell up, embarking on a journey to become a pumpkin fruit in a month or so, depending on the variety.
After asking permission and apologising profusely. Hand-pollination was simple, albeit a tad embarrassing.
Sean Barker is the MD of First Tunnels, and is enthusiastic about providing quality gardening supplies to gardeners across the UK