Romancing the winter melon

I’ve given up watching the winter melon vines like a hawk. Although there have been several fruit flowers, none have set fruit, and all we’ve seen were these:

No-go female winter melon flower that usually looks promising when it blooms, but starts shriveling and turning yellow after a couple of days.

Last weekend, I was showing my 11-year-old niece around the garden, and she was knowledgeably telling me about the need to grow flowers like sweet peas to attract pollinating insects to the garden. Her eyes opened wide when I told her that we can hand-pollinate flowers if pollinating insects are infrequent. Since we were at the winter melon plants at the time, and there were two vines hanging conveniently in front of us, I demonstrated how to touch the male and female flowers together. This became a game of letting the flowers “kiss” each other. Well…

…that turned out to be a productive lesson, because:

The lucky female flower that had been pollinated by a few male flowers now looks like it is growing into a fruit!

It looks like we may finally have a fruit growing! If this was a result of my lesson, then it appears that the winter melon likes to have multiple “suitors”, because my niece insisted on choosing different male flowers to pollinate the fruit flower. Maybe I should engage her matchmaking services more often!

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