Saturday, September 30, 2006

Fairytale Part 3: Pumpkin Blossom Time

June 24. Look what I see!!
(Click pictures for larger view)
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"We fancy men are individuals; so are pumpkins; but every pumpkin in the field goes through every point of pumpkin history." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
(If you've missed the first two installments, you might want to read them first, here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2.)

As the magic pumpkin patch continued to grow......
.......the lady kept watch. By the end of June she started to see vine spikes growing at right angles to the main vine and at the ends were flame-shaped .... BUDS!!! There were a lot of them and they formed the joints along the vines.

The buds began to blossom just a few at a time and only very early in the morning. June and July are so hot; by ten in the morning the blooms had closed for the day. One week went by and then two; surely we should start seeing little pumpkins soon. The lady became concerned; perhaps they needed more water or food or maybe the seeds won't grow or... Well! The truth was obvious... the lady had no knowledge of how to grow pumpkins, most of the seeds she plants simply don't come up.

July 12. Early morning.

Where does one go to learn how to grow pumpkins? The internet search engines, of course. The lady learned that these large delicate yellow blooms come in two distinct forms ~ male and female. The male flowers on tall stalks begin to blossom two to three weeks before the female flowers appear. Why? So their showy blossoms will attract honey bees, imprinting them with pollen to facilitate the bees return to the flowers, day after day. These big blooms were the male flowers. And look Vicki... fruit flies love these blooms!

Male blossom.

What happens if the bees don't come? Well, the lady found out that she might have to "help" the pumpkins out.... in vitro fertilization of sorts; put the pollen from the male flower in the blossom of the female flower. She sincerely hoped the bees would come, though she hadn't seen any. Perhaps she just hadn't looked early enough in the day.

Then she saw them; yes, the bees had arrived, and look... all the fruit flies have red eyes... dominant trait. The lady was relieved as she had no wish to be a pumpkin fertility doctor.

July 12

So now it is back to waiting. Waiting for the female flowers. Watching as the vines continue their march to.... well, who knows... we only have so much yard to work with! The lady has to be gone for two weeks. Who will water, who will feed, who will keep the vines from going to the neighbor's house? Will the female flowers bloom? Will the bees cross pollinate the pumpkins with the cucumbers in the yard? At least this won't show up in this year's pumpkins... if any grow at all.

Then two days before the lady has to leave on her trip......

July 20. The female flower.

......she spies these small buds on short little stalks. Immediately beneath each bud is a tiny round mini-pumpkin about one half inch in diameter. All the female blossoms have these pumpkin precursors; and if the bees do their job, the flower will be fertilized and the round bulb will grow into a pumpkin. Not every female flower will be fertilized; most will shrivel up and fall to the ground, no one knows which ones will survive at this point.

Will the bees do a good job? Will the pumpkins begin to grow? As she left for her two weeks in New York, all the lady could do was wait and wonder.... and now, so must you......

To be continued... but again, not today....
(end of post)

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