Thursday, August 26, 2010


I planted pumpkins for the first time this year. Well, I should say that I intentionally planted pumpkins for the first time this year. Since I always compost my vegetable scraps, it's not unusual to have a volunteer pumpkin or two come up in the compost pile. In fact, one year we had one grow up and onto our deck. We spent much of the summer trying to guess what kind of vine it was, starting with cantaloup, then watermelon, and then finally we guessed pumpkin when the huge, oblong fruit began to turn orange. In October we picked the pumpkin up off the deck, cut it from the vine, and then just plopped it on the front porch for Halloween. Easy peasy.

Since the volunteer pumpkins grew so easily, I wanted to try actually planting some in the new garden this spring. I had saved some seeds from a Jarrahdale pumpkin I bought at the Floyd Arts and Craft Show last October. These pumpkins are squat, ribbed, somewhat lumpy and a distinctive blue-gray color. They never turn into the classic orange jack o'lanterns, but the flesh is tasty and I like the different color.

We started the seeds in flats inside back in March. Ally had a grand time checking them each morning "to see if the seeds woke up" yet. I finally got the plants in the ground around June. They took their own sweet time to get going, but by late July the vines were covered with yellow blossoms and were rambling everywhere. I could hear the surprising loud whiny hum of the bees in the flowers when I went down to check on the garden, and it wasn't long before the vines had climbed up the fence and grown through it. But there weren't any pumpkins. Sometimes I would find a small fruit that appeared to have set, but then it turned yellow and went mushy. For a while I wondered if the Jarrahdale might not be open pollinated and required a different pumpkin as a pollen donor.

I should have known that anything from Australia was hardier than that. Soon enough I had a small pumpkin, then several small pumpkins, and suddenly they weren't that small anymore. Then the leaves grew so big and thick that I couldn't see the pumpkins at all, except for the one that began growing up on the fencing until its weight brought the fruit down to the ground, or the one stealthily growing outside of the garden fence.


The last time I checked, there are about six pumpkins out in the patch in addition to the two I picked earlier. I've decided to let them be until either the vines die down or I think they're going to rot. And truth be told, I think those vines are going to go gangbusters until the weather really turns. If anyone wants me, I'll be down in the garden beating them off the fence so they don't pull it down.





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