Year of the Pumpkin

pumpkin 13HERD ABOUT IT?

by ana grarian

This year has been great for pumpkin vines. Not so much cucumbers, which seems odd to me. I would have thought they were related. The cucumbers had a hard time getting started, and seem to be floundering. I know from last year, that they don’t like the cold much.

The vine with the large leaves climbing the fence is one of my pumpkin vines. It started at the other end of the garden, which you can’t see and just grew. It has been cut back significantly in the foreground of this picture because its huge leaves were shading out and diverting rain from the rest of my plants. It was also making strong forays out across the sidewalk.

At the other end of the garden it has climbed into my lilac bush and is growing fruit up in the branches. All of the fruit on this vine is from flowers that were up in the air. The yellow spot on the far left is a pumpkin growing on the top of a fence-post. I am not sure why, and it will be challenging to provide support for the fruits as the grow. Hopefully these are small pumpkins. They are supposed to become a deep red/orange and very warty. Right now they look an awful lot like butternut squash.

I also have two volunteer vines growing from my front flower bed. They may be from the acorn squash I tried to grow last year. Plenty of vine last year, but not much fruit. I think I had one acorn squash – or I should say, the squirrels had one acorn squash. They also got my one sunflower.

This garden of mine is teaching me a lot. Fortunately I don’t have to survive on it, though that is my eventual goal. I do have a lot of success with kale, which is a very nutritious plant, and tasty too. Last year I struggled due to high heat and low rainfall. This year we have had nice rains, and I have improved my water capacity. Each year I hope to do just a little bit better.

My potatoes are surviving this year. I am going to have to build a garden box for them. That side of the house has very good drainage because it is supposed to be a driveway. I need deeper soil for a good yield. Last year I tried trash cans, but did not have enough drainage, and the black cans retained too much heat. I hope to build wooden boxes out of old pallets for future use.

My tomatoes continue to do well. They are in huge flower pots, so they retain moisture well. Since they are also under the leaking gutters, they get plenty of rain. I think my pepper plants need bigger pots in order to grow well. I have been advised that they like water even more than tomatoes.

Last week crews were in the area drilling for soil samples. We are just down the hill from a super-fund site contaminated with lead. They are checking to see if they will need to do remediation work on neighborhood basements. Hence the reason why I grow food crops in raised beds and pots. The fact that the lot directly across the street used to be an old pottery factory, and the broken/bad pottery was buried on the site, might have negative effects also. We shall see.

Gardening is an activity that I enjoy a great deal. It keeps me sane. I feel like I have accomplished something – though I also sometimes feel inadequate to the tasks. A new co-worker of mine is an avid gardener. She freezes her produce. Hopefully I can learn from her. Learn something new every day. At least with gardening most of my learning is a positive, even if I have learned what not to do. A nice antidote to the news, which is too often about what awful thing governments, corporations or their minions have done.