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Pumpkin protection help please.

Please can anybody give me some ideas to protect developing pumpkins. My little boy sowed the seeds and I don't want him to be disappointed with no crop. I have 3 plants that are planted amongst my other garden plants in the flower beds. As soon as each flower has finished something seems to be nibbling the developing tiny pumpkin clean off and I'm just left with stalks. I've lost at least 8 on one plant. I thought of tying some fine gauze mesh around the flower but I'd have to do it quite tight to stop slugs and feel I may damage the stalk. I even resorted to putting slug pellets down but there's still something nibbling them off. Part of the plant is trailing over a wall. Any ideas greatly appreciated.


  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 323
    Is it possible to post up a picture? It might help identify the problem.
  • karen paulkaren paul Posts: 230
    Sorry for taking so long to get photos housefinch, it's been raining non stop all day. Hopefully you can see the severed stalks, on most of them a pumpkin doesn't even get chance to get started before the top disappears. One plant is even twining up a tree and still getting damaged. There are 2 woodpigeons that keep hanging about but I think they would struggle to reach some parts of the plants. I thought maybe the flowers are getting snapped off in the wind and rain but I've only found 2 (with a slug in)
  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 14,373
    The first photo is of a male flower. The second is a female flower(little pumpkin at the back). If you take the male flower and peel off the yellow petals, then tickle the centre of the female flower with the pollen laden stamens on the male flower.(you can cut the male flower off  to do this) This will transfer pollen and ensure pollination. It may be with the wet weather that your bees don't feel up to it, so you have to be a pretend bee.  Unpollinated female flowers and all male flowers will drop off.
    You don't stop doing new things because you get old, you get old because you stop doing new things. <3
  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 323
    Fidgetbones has it. Another way to tell the male from the female flower is that the female will have multiple stamen in the centre, whereas the male flower just has a single stamen.
  • pansyfacepansyface PEAK DISTRICT DerbyshirePosts: 16,851
    Why protect him from the cruel realities of gardening? 😁 He’s going to have to be told one day that only deluded optimists pursue the dream of growing and harvesting their own crops.

    (I harvested six pathetic runner beans this year. Not even enough to serve up in one meal.)🙄

    Apophthegm -  a big word for a small thought.
  • karen paulkaren paul Posts: 230
    Thankyou everybody, I didn't know about the male and female flowers. There haven't been many bees this past week, the weather has been very changeable at best, raining non stop at worst. Pansy face, that's very true, lol but I'm hoping he will feel encouraged and I loved to see his beaming smile at his produce of peas and cucumbers last year. 
  • DovefromaboveDovefromabove Central Norfolk UKPosts: 61,545
    And gardening is always a chance to look and talk about the birds and the bees and the courgettes and pumpkins in a non-embarrassing age-appropriate sort of a way 😊 👍 
    “I am not lost, for I know where I am. But however, where I am may be lost.” Winnie the Pooh

  • HouseFinchHouseFinch British Columbia, Canada (Zone 5)Posts: 323
    I find gardening is the best way to get toddlers to eat their vegetables.
    Thumbs up for giving it a go.
    Hopefully it has the added benefit of teaching them hard work and perseverance.
  • HelixHelix 704m altitude...Posts: 628
    Agree with others, the flowers aren't being properly pollinated so are falling off.  Given that it’s mid-August, once you do get a fruit to set and start to grow reliably then trim back other areas as you’ll need to get as much oomph as you can into that fruit for it to ripen.  Most pumpkins take 40 days+
  • karen paulkaren paul Posts: 230
    Thankyou everyone for your input, I'll try hand pollinating, although there are plenty of pollinators about I haven't seen any on the pumpkin flowers. I'm enjoying seeing just the flowers, I think they look quite exotic amongst my other jungly plants. Just one pumpkin for my lad to carve and for me to make a pie will do, plus I would have seeds for another try next year :)
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