“They’re taking too much space in the backyard,” Mr. Hubby said. He was complaining about my unproductive pumpkin vines. “You should just mow all the plants and make the place neat and tidy.”
I couldn’t do that, not when I had set my heart on producing a 15-kilo pumpkin! My initial two plants had produced five beautiful gourds the biggest being eleven kilos. I thought with my second crop of more than twenty vines I could have a truck-load of pumpkins. Maybe I could even sell pumpkins at the tamu!
However, not a single pumpkin appeared on the vines. Even Mr. Neighbour noticed the barrenness.
“No pumpkin gourd this time?” he asked Mr. Hubby. “Perhaps your pumpkin plants are males.” He thinks pumpkin vines are like papaya trees.
Mr. Hubby didn’t tell him that the cause of the ‘missing’ gourds was the once-a-week maid. I made the mistake of telling her she could pick some pumpkin shoots for her pot. Little did I know that the picking would be a regular thing. When she was plucking the shoots for the second time, I told her not to take the flowers. Well, she left behind the female flowers but what use are these without the pollen from the male flowers?
A female flower needs to be pollinated so it has the chance to become a pumpkin gourd.
The next time she took the young shoots for her pot she told me only when the plucking was done. The following week I told her bluntly: “Don’t pick any more shoots until we have pumpkin gourds.”
Many people think that when a flower with that tiny pumpkin appears, it automatically becomes a gourd. It does not become one unless it gets pollen from a male flower. Insects such as ants, bees and beetles normally help to pollinate the flowers but the gardener can also do it manually.
We didn’t explain that to Mr. Neighbour and I didn’t point it out to the maid. I had assumed she knows more about growing pumpkins than I do. Too bad, she doesn’t.
However, I was still hopeful. The occasional flowers are still appearing on the vines. I only wish that healthy male flowers make an appearance when the female flowers are dancing in the morning sun. You can imagine how pleased I was to pollinate a flower about a month ago and how I watched the baby pumpkin grow. After a six-month wait we were going to have a gourd at last, I told the family and the maid.
But I had spoken too soon. The back neighbour hired a walk-in grass-cutter to trim her plants yesterday and he had snipped all the plants crawling on MY fence. (The neighbour had removed her fence long ago so she could claim the no-man’s land between our properties.)The cut pumpkin vines are drying up and turning brown. I am more disappointed than angry. It is as if I haven’t planted any pumpkins and I had wasted six months.
There's only one thing to do now and that is to go sow more seeds. In three months I'm going to have a tubful of pumpkins!