Sunday, June 22, 2014

Our Accidental Pumpkin Patch

I was lucky that I only lost 2 plants in my front bed from the really low temperatures we had this past winter.

One of them, a butterfly bush, was cut back and I watched with the hope I would see new little leaves emerge.  Well, I saw  some little leaves but they were coming from underneath the skeleton of the butterfly bush.  I let them grow just to see what it might be.  It looked like some sort of a vine and I figured it was some sort of squash.

 Here is it.  Isn't it a pretty little plant? It even has a beautiful yellow flower amongst the leaves.  Can you see it?

 Here's a better look.

 This thing began to grow

and soon began to take over my garden.

Then one day I found what I thought was a round zucchini that I had allowed to get way too big.  It was the size of a tether ball. I quickly cut it off the vine knowing it was going to be the toughest zucchini ever; but I'd cook it up anyway.  I took it in the kitchen to show Lovey, who responded that he was pretty sure it was a pumpkin.  The more I thought about it I realized Lovey was right.  I cut it open and sure was definitely a pumpkin.

We had a ginormous pumpkin vine taking over the front garden.  I've always loved pumpkins and was excited about actually having one.

 Years ago Lovey designed a huge mirror, about 6' high and 4' across.  He called it the pumpkin vine mirror because the frame was pumpkin leaves.  He had it hand carved out of a mahogany native to the Philippines and it was gorgeous.  It had the beautiful huge leaves around all four sides of the frame.

 He also made sure there were lots of the little tendrils and blossoms tucked in here and there.

It was the most beautiful thing I ever saw; and I wish I had let him know how much I would have loved to have one for ourselves.

But, no worries.  Now I had a real pumpkin vine to think about.  I decided I was not going to let it choke out certain things in the garden; like my calla lilies on the right.  And I needed to find a new location to plant the Fire Bush that I bought to replace the butterfly bush.  So I set out to learn what I needed to know and I learned some very interesting things.

Pumpkin vines are monoecious; meaning the male and female parts are in different flowers.  This is the inside of the male flower.  It has a single stamen that is covered with pollen.

This is the inside of the female flower. It's like a little nest of eggs just waiting to get pollinated.

Another way to tell the difference between the male and female flowers is at the base of the flower.  The female flower has this bulbous base.  If the female flower is pollinated this bulb becomes the fruit, or the pumpkin.  If it's not, the flower shrivels up the the bulb rots off.

The male flower does not have the bulb at the base.

I also learned how to self pollinate the flowers and if I get the opportunity to try it I'll document it here.

At the moment I'm satisfied with the bees doing the pollinating and creating the two fruits that are growing and hope they make it to maturity.

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