I am fortunate to have obtained some special pumpkin seeds in the past couple of years. Unfortunately pumpkins and squashes are famous for cross-pollinating with any other related family member. Unless I take special measures, if I save seed from any of my pumpkins and squashes this year, I will probably get strange, hybrid fruit next year.
The female flower above is from my Rouge Vif D'Etamps
The slightly different shaped pumpkin is a female flower from my Queensland Blue
pumpkin which Scarecrow
sent me from Australia. (G'day mate - you're hammering us in the cricket eh?)
So this is what a male flower looks like. He has no little baby pumpkin behind his flower, and inside the flower he contains the pollen which is the male part of the plant (think sperm...)
So if you want to collect seed for next year you must obtain pollen from a male flower of the same speceis (preferably from another plant) and deposit it in the female flower. You must keep a vigilant watch on your pumpkin patch, staying there all day if necessary to do this at exactly the right time
. Both male and female flowers have to be fully open, but they must not have been pollinated by any flying insects - who might bring in other pollen.
Now here comes the sex. Look away if you are squeamish, or if you are of a sensitive disposition! Take the petals off the male flower to expose the pollen at the base of the flower and make it easier to insert right down the bottom of the female flower and brush the pollen all over the female parts of the flower. You can do this with a very fine paintbrush if you can get the pollen on to that.
Now to avoid any further insect pollination of the female flower you must prevent insects from getting in there for a few days more. A fleece bag, pair of stockings lightly tied over the female flower will do.
Just to be sure you have the timing right (let's face it girls, they have problems don't they?)
You may have to repeat the exercise tomorrow and the next day just to be sure that enough pollen has been produced. When fertilization has taken place, the female pumpkin will start to swell and the flower will drop off.