Bees

Pumpkin Pollination

Until this summer I have never managed to get any pumpkins off my pumpkin vines.  Each spring I diligently plant several varieties of pumpkins with optimism and hope.  Each year I get a run of pumpkin vine spilling out over the edge of the veggie garden, headed north east in search of something – sunlight presumably.  Each year I pinch off the ends to encourage more side shoots and therefore more female flowers.  Each year I end up pulling out the damn pumpkin vine in late autumn as I once again give up hope of ever successfully growing pumpkins.

Each year that is until this year.  When we moved to our rental property we had two old rain tank rings which my beloved had cut down from a disused rain water tank.  And we needed to fill them with something, so we filled them from the bottom with old Styrofoam boxes (just to take up some space), covered the boxes with soil that we found out behind the shed at the new place and topped it with compost that we brought with us (yes we brought the compost we had been making in our old garden!).  Then I planted capsicums in one and tomatoes in the other.  The tomatoes have fruited well this year, although not as well as some other years, but I put that down to a different location and a dry spring.  The capsicums have struggled.

The capsicums have struggled because they have been competing against the most prolific pumpkin vines which popped up in the tank, presumably out of the compost that we used to fill the tank initially.  At first about half a dozen popped up, and we wondered what they were, then some more popped up, so I transplanted 5 into another garden bed, pulled out the excess ones and left about 6 in the tank.  And they grew, and grew, and grew.

Pumpkin Vine Pumpkin Vine 2

They grew so much the bees could barely get in and out of their hive – we have to keep cutting it back so the bees can find their way back after a foraging flight.

Vine and Hives

But I actually think it is because of the bees that we have had so much success with the vine fruiting. This is the first year we’ve had bee hives in our garden and this is the first year I’ve managed to grow pumpkins, so I’m giving the bees the credit.  And they are not giving up pollinating just yet.  The japs are at all stages of development, still putting out new fruit …

Pumpkin Flower Baby Jap Jap 1

And so are the butternuts …

Baby Butternut  Butternut 1

And this is the tub from which all this life and optimism has come…

Pumpkin Tub

Just an old galvanised tank ring, filled with compost … and in great company only a couple of metres from the bee hive.

While it’s a pity that we didn’t get more capsicums, I think this was a small price to pay for restoring my faith in the humble pumpkin vine that has so diligently grown in my garden for many summers without even a thought of producing fruit.  I think its going to be pumpkin soup, pumpkin scones, roast pumpkin, pumpkin and feta salad, and pumpkin cake this year. And of course I’ll be putting the seeds back in the compost again!

How sweet it is!

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