My pumpkin crop has not quite eventuated as I dreamed back in November and December when I first started chucking seeds in anywhere there was space. I blame the weather.
Ok, ok, I’m no perfect gardener so some of the blame is likely mine but so far our summer has been short, sharp and at times, plain vicious. It’s all over the place and as such, gardens have struggled. From discussions I’ve had with friends, fruit crops, both commercial and personal, have struggled to fruit this year. Something about being too wet for the bees. I guess I wouldn’t want to be flying around in the rain either. Here in Ballan we saw a cold November. Traditionally the last frost date is considered Cup weekend or the weekend that includes the 1st Tuesday in November when the Melbourne Cup horse race is run. Although I don’t remember any frosts since then I know we didn’t see much warmth. The pumpkin seeds planted to germinate around the start of November failed to germinate. I think, from the 20 or so I planted I saw 1. I planted out 2 hugels with seeds as well but again, the cold weather prevented germination or at least delayed it. The plants have been slow to grow too, again aided in that by cool temperatures and likely, a lack of nitrogen in the new hugels. My veggie beds out the back with their pumpkins thickly planted should be invisible under the groaning weight of large and slightly prickly curcurbit leaves but instead I can clearly still see the mulch. :(
January and February then challenged sanity with extreme heat days where my pumpkins looked like they were wearing 1950′s dresses with no petticoats, so wilted were their leaves. Still and all they recovered well with and without watering once the temperatures dropped. However, flowering has had me worried. We’ve seen nothing at all until this last fortnight and female flowers only this week.
Pumpkin flowers, for those that don’t know come in male flowers and female flowers. Female flowers are the ones from which pumpkins grow. When the pumpkin begins to flower it generally does so with male flowers only. The female flowers come later.
I’ve been out pollinating yesterday and can only hope they grow fast and the frost keeps away. There are about 5 or so pollinated female flowers and several more coming on.
Other curcurbits are the same including zucchinis, spaghetti squash, cucumbers and watermelons too. It’s very easy to know where the fruit will come on when you can see the baby fruit waiting and ready to go. :)
In my garden there are other flowers too.
I guess I will just have to learn to adapt to the weather given that the anomalies and extremes are likely here to stay thanks to climate change. Still, if we could only reign in fossil fuel spending and environmental damage then our planet might have half a chance at stabilising herself. Even so, adapting is definitely the wisest choice. Next spring, in September I shall be planting out pumpkins and melons and more in pots. I can only hope transplanting is successful.