I’m no expert, but I’m not leaving anything to chance with the pumpkins, and have been doing a bit of matchmaking.
Pumpkin plants have separate male and female flowers, and the pollen from the male needs to be carried to the female to pollinate it. Both the male and female flowers are only open for one morning, then curl up in a fist and drop off. So unless they both get visted by an accommodating insect, travelling in the right direction, the pumpkin’s chances of becoming a Halloween star are done for. (I haven’t the heart to tell them their future is actually soup).
Here’s how to identify the female flower. They seem to appear only along the trailing end of the plant.
This is what she looks like from behind. Think “Does my bump look big in this?”
Here’s the male flower. There seems to be a lot more of them, especially at the rooted end of the plant.
Look, no bump on the male flower.
Here’s me loading a soft paintbrush with the pollen from the male flower…
And brushing it gently onto the female receptive parts. Oo er Mrs…
And here’s the pumpkin well on the way to stardom. Below it is a shrivelled-up one that didn’t have the luck of my agency services.