29. October 2013 · Comments Off on Pumpkin Carving Time! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , ,


Better late than never, right?

Timmy and I enjoyed carving our four pumpkins this afternoon. I’m so proud of Timmy, this year he offered to do everything but got really nervous about gutting the pumpkins. So I did it for him…because I’m a sucker for that stuff.

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29. April 2011 · Comments Off on Presenting Pumpkin #1!!! · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

And here she is! About 3″ long so far. There’s another one on an adjacent vine that’s a little smaller, I’ll call that one #2!

26. April 2011 · 4 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

In 2009 I had tried hand-pollinating pumpkins for the first time.  (If you click the link, make sure to start at the bottom and work your way up, the posts are appearing in reverse chronological order).  After seeing award-winning pumpkins at the NC and NE State Fairs, I wanted to learn more about how one gets a 1000 lb. pumpkin…

I was surprised this weekend at all the buds that were appearing on my pumpkin plants and decided to give it a go again this year.  I had my first two female flowers open up this morning, and there are at least 4 more that will be opening up this week!

Two male flowers.  These guys are about 8″ across, attracting all sorts of bugs!
One of the female flowers.  Note the “stigma” in the center, looks different than the male flower above.
A view of the bulb behind the flower.  If pollination is successful, that bulb grows into a pumpkin.
To hand-pollinate, you select a male flower, remove the petals, and get the powdery stuff on the stamen in contact with the stigma on the female flower.  I didn’t photograph the actual pollination, but you can see a 2009 version here.
This bee might have been a step ahead of me, there was plenty of wildlife around to take care of things if I had missed those flowers opening.
25. October 2010 · Comments Off on Gettin’ in the Halloween Spirit · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

This weekend we finally took some time to get into the Halloween spirit. Friday we went to the Bellevue Pumpkin Patch to choose the family pumpkins, then the boys had a chance to wear their Halloween costumes both Saturday and Sunday.

First of all, if you like this picture below, then click the link here to vote for them in a Fox Sports contest to have this picture shown during Game 3 of the World Series. No silly login/password/consent for spam required. The voting button is towards the right of the page.

From 2010 10 31 Halloween 2010

The Bellevue Berry Farm and Pumpkin Patch is right up the road from us. We usually pay a visit to the much-larger Vala’s Pumpkin Patch at some point, but always get so caught up in the attractions, we never make it out to get our pumpkins. Bellevue is so much more relaxing and laid back, we have an equally good time. Living only 10 minutes from there definitely helps too.

We met Timmy’s friend Roger’s family out there and had a fun morning.

From 2010 10 22 Bellevue Pumpkin Patch
From 2010 10 22 Bellevue Pumpkin Patch
From 2010 10 22 Bellevue Pumpkin Patch
From 2010 10 22 Bellevue Pumpkin Patch
From 2010 10 22 Bellevue Pumpkin Patch
From 2010 10 22 Bellevue Pumpkin Patch

Saturday was the AFWA Halloween party.  For those new to my blog, AFWA stands for Air Force Weather Agency, and it’s the name of the military organization Dave works for.  Their Halloween party consists of games and crafts for the kids, hot dogs and cupcakes, and then it’s wrapped up by a “Trunk or Treat”.

Last year we simply took the boys and they had a good time, but this time we did a bit more. I put on my recently-renovated witch costume and decorated our trunk up pretty fun. I got a bit overzealous thinking our car battery could power our fog machine, oops 🙂

From 2010 10 31 Halloween 2010
From 2010 10 31 Halloween 2010
From 2010 10 31 Halloween 2010
From 2010 10 31 Halloween 2010
From 2010 10 31 Halloween 2010
From 2010 10 31 Halloween 2010

Today we made our way to the Omaha Zoo’s “Spooktacular” event. Apparently this is a pretty big deal around here. Perhaps it’s worth its own “Nebraska Discoveries” blog post because it was a cultural attraction all in itself! Yes, I think that’s what I’ll do.

26. July 2009 · Comments Off on Pumpkin #2 · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

No other female flowers pending at the moment.

23. July 2009 · Comments Off on My Next Patient… · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,
From 2009 07 21 Garden

This one will be ready to open up on Thursday morning, with plenty of male buds also ready to pollinate!

22. July 2009 · Comments Off on Pumpkin and Hops Updates · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , , , ,

First of all, a week after the artificial insemination, here’s what we have for a pumpkin so far:
This is about 1.5 lbs. and about 10″ circumference. I’m so excited at this!

Unfortunately, the next several female flowers haven’t been opening up, but they can be really sensitive to amounts of water it receives. There are 4-5 more buds pending, and I’m keeping tabs on it…

Someone on Facebook commented about the breed of pumpkin he was growing, and it wasn’t till then I realized I don’t know what breed this pumpkin is going to be. It could be a pie pumpkin, a jack ‘o lantern pumpkin, or maybe one of those state fair pumpkins?

We’ll all just have to wait and see….

Break break.

I’m not sure whether I’d mentioned it on my blog, but we are also growing hops in our backyard. We ordered some rhizomes this past spring from American Brewmaster, the store that Dave frequented for his beer-making supplies while we were living in NC. After consulting billions of websites (here’s one) looking for how hops are grown, we learned that Nebraska is at the ideal latitude for growing them, and if the soil is good, and they’re planted in the right place, we could get enough hops to nicely augment Dave’s homebrewing.

So Dave ordered two rhizomes of Centennial hops this past March (at $4 per rhizome, this seems a much better deal than $4 per ounce for hops cones themselves!), and we potted them in pots in April to give them a head start. This is from April 9th.
The first week of May, Dave rigged up the trellising and we put the hops in the ground!
There was little progress for a month or so, Dave and I got a bit worried. By Memorial Day, nothing was climbing…

Picture from May 26th.
Just before our vacation, we saw evidence of some real climbing, and by the time we got back from our vacation, the vines had reached the tops of the trellises! From June 29th.
Just after July 4th, flowers started to appear up at the topmost parts of the vines, and I’ve been having a pretty hard time getting good pictures of them…here’s what I got today (July 21):

We weren’t expecting flowers this year. Hops are perennial vines that usually use its first-year growth to focus on strengthening its root system and establishing itself. But whatever we get will be great, and can be preserved for future brews. We’re just starting to see the flowers, flowering is allegedly going to continue through late August/early September, so I foresee plenty for at least one batch for Dave and his friends to enjoy this fall/winter.

After all, the world is just coming off of a hops shortage, and the homebrewers takes the brunt of such shortages….

Cheers and happy gardening!

17. July 2009 · 2 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I consider this a success:


From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination


From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

If the pollination hadn’t “taken”, the bulb behind the flower would have yellowed and fallen off the vine by now. This was about 52 hours after the pollination, and the bulb has at least doubled in size.

I’ll keep you updated on the progress on our pumpkin!

14. July 2009 · 18 comments · Categories: Uncategorized · Tags: , ,

I have this incredibly HUGE pumpkin plant taking over my backyard…

From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

And that’s just the part of the one plant that’s come through the fence and is actually bleeding into the front yard!

Anyway, I’ve grown pumpkins in the past and the best I traditionally do is 1…at most 2…pumpkins! This time around, I’m going to try my hand at (drumroll please!) hand-pollination!

I’d read that those enormous pumpkins you see winning blue ribbons at county fairs are typically hand-pollinated. And those who are super-serious will even use plastic bags to ensure the male and female flowers keep as much of their pollen on hand as possible!

How does this work? Well, for those who didn’t realize, plants in the squash family — to include cucumbers and pumpkins — have both “male” and “female” flowers on the same plant. Male flowers are typically bigger and are on a longer stem, while female flowers will have a bulbous piece just behind the flower…which is what eventually becomes the squash itself when pollinated. On a pumpkin, the first you’d see male flowers — LOTS of male flowers — and then after several weeks (at least 4 weeks in my case), you will see female flowers appear. I’ve had less than 6 so far.

Here’s a male flower. Note the thinner stem and the stamen in the center:

From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

And the female flower. The bulb behind the flower and the multiple “stigma”…with an opening in the center for? You guessed it — the male flower’s pollen!

From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination
From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

So here’s the deal. You have to do this early enough in the morning that the flowers are all still open. Most pumpkin flowers will shrivel up by mid-day, especially on warm days. You pick a male flower off its stem, and pluck off the petals, exposing its “manliness”:

From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

Then you rub the male and female innards together…this is rated NC-17, sorry!

From 2009 07 14 Pumpkin Pollination

Now…some folks who have tried that have reported that you’ll see evidence of success in as few as 12 hours — the bulb will begin growing. In an unsuccessful pollination, the flower would fall off and the bulb will turn yellow and shrivel off the flower.

I’ll check tomorrow morning for evidence of success/failure of today’s pollination. There should be another flower ready to attempt tomorrow.