The hollowed-out pumpkin: what causes the hollowed-out pumpkin?

The hollow pumpkin looks healthy until the fruit is harvested and opened to find a hollow centre. Several factors can cause this condition, called hollow heart disease. Most are easy to correct, and with a few adjustments, you’ll soon have the perfect pumpkin.

What causes the hollow pumpkin?

When the pumpkin fruit is hollow, this may be the result of insufficient fertilization of the flowers. On hot, dry days, the inner parts of the flower may dry out, resulting in poor pollination. Most of the time, poor pollination is due to a lack of pollinating insects. It takes several hundred grains of pollen to completely fertilize a female flower so that it can form a full fruit in the centre. Each flower must receive eight to twelve visits from bees to reach this level of fertilization.

If you think the bees are not doing their job, try pollinating the flowers yourself. Male and female flowers look alike, but if you look under the petals where they attach to the stem, you’ll see the difference. The male flowers are connected by a thin collar, while the female flowers have a swollen area under the flower. Choose a male flower and remove the petals to expose the pollen-filled anthers. Apply a small amount of pollen to the anthers inside the female flower so that they deliver the pollen. Repeat every two or three days for best results.

Uneven moisture levels and too much fertilizer can cause the zucchini to burrow. Both of these problems cause uneven and jerky growth of the fruit, and the development of the inside of the fruit may not keep pace with the outside tissue. Try to keep the soil evenly moist. A layer of mulch helps control moisture by preventing rapid evaporation on hot, sunny days.

Boron deficiency in the soil can lead to hollow heart disease. Use a fertilizer containing micronutrients to correct the deficiency, but be careful not to over-fertilize.

Some pumpkin problems are due to the poor quality of the seeds. Gardeners who save their own seed should ensure that they grow open-pollinated or inherited varieties. It is best to grow only one type of pumpkin when you plan to save your seeds. When there is more than one type of pumpkin in the garden, they can be cross-pollinated and the results are often disappointing.

Now that you know the reasons for hollowed-out pumpkin fruit, you have the means to correct one of the most common problems with pumpkin growth.

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