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When I was just a little tyke, my sister (who is about three years older) had a pumpkin patch in our backyard (after letting a pumpkin rot there). Somehow, my sister, who was also very young at the time, knew about using a paintbrush to hand pollinate the squash. To this day, I still remember us flitting around with paintbrushes mushing them into flowers in hopes we would be like bees and help the plant produce pumpkins, which it ultimately did!

For those who aren’t familiar, some plants — including squash, gourds, and even tomatoes– have male and female flowers that rely on bees, bugs and nature to help them pollinate. By using a small paintbrush and dipping it into various flowers you can help things along. Since we’re becoming short on honey bees these days in the US, I believe hand pollinating is a good way to ensure your vegetables produce.

Last year I had terrible luck with pumpkins but this year I’ve already picked my first baby bam pie pumpkin and have several more on the vines starting to get ripe. Was it because I did a little hand pollination to help things along or would my plant have been able to produce without me, we’ll never know. So tell me, gardeners: Do you hand pollinate, and if so what? I didn’t do my tomatoes at all and have tons of them but I don’t like to leave the pumpkins to chance anymore.

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