Have you ever eaten a fruit and just stuck its pit into the ground to see what would happen? My grandmother was one of those people who actually did that. With her curiosity to see what would happen, combined with and the greenest thumb I had ever seen, she managed to grow a smorgasbord of plants, including a pineapple plant. I actually watched her finish a peach, contemplate the pit for a few moments, then stick it into a pot with some soil and successfully got it to grow. Despite the genetic connection, my thumb ended up with a paler shade of brownish-green, and so far, my gardening success has been contained to houseplants and growing a few herbs in the window.
Last Fall I made and canned a ton of pumpkin puree, but it wasn’t until I had thrown away the last pumpkin scraps that I thought, “what the heck”, I would do my grandmother proud and give it a try. I purposefully went against my nature to research every subject to death and simply stuck some seeds into my already existing pot of basil. Voila: after a few days I started to see little baby leaves as about half of my seeds sprouted. I think I planted 5 seeds and now have 2 good plants and one that is struggling a little bit.
At some point I did the “research every subject to death” bit because I was wondering when to expect my beautiful ripe pumpkins. I found out that:
a) pumpkin plants typically grow enormously long, and that;
b) in order to grow a pumpkin, the pollen from the male flower (the one with a straight stem all the way up to the bloom) somehow needs to get to the female flower (the one with a small bulge right below the bloom, which would later become the fruit).
I kept my fingers crossed that the plant wouldn’t take over my kitchen, which it didn’t, but there was still the pollination issue. I could either invite a swarm of bees into my house, or dim the light, put on some Barry White and manually transfer pollen from a male flower to a female one. I decided that when the time comes, I would rely on Barry, but at this point I have only male flowers and read that many plants don’t even produce female flowers if the conditions aren’t perfect. Since my plant is bunking with my basil in a pretty small pot and under less than stellar circumstances, I am not holding my breath to see any female flowers. Instead, I enjoy the pretty blooms and rest assured that my thumb is indeed a little more greenish than I thought…
Here is a great link if you are interested in learning more about growing pumpkins: http://www.allaboutpumpkins.com/growing.html