This is the time of year when everyone writes about squash. The grotesquely large zucchini have begun to show up at workplaces and country churches, as folks ‘share the bounty’ of their garden. This is why I don’t plant zucchini. If I want some, I only have to leave my car door unlocked.
My tale is the odyssey of what is that growing in my garden and how did it get there?
Last year I planted acorn squash. I got some attractive vines, and finally two fruits, that the squirrels promptly ate into. This year I planted orange, warty, pumpkins. I thought they would be interesting Halloween decorations, and that my grand-kids might get a kick out of them.
My vines were spectacular. I had to cut them back from taking over the sidewalk. One headed across the length of the garden, up the fence, and started over the gate to the neighbors house. It is definitely not a pumpkin. One headed for the front lawn and has launched itself up and out the top of my Lilac bush. I have one warty pumpkin growing deep in the bowels of the bush. I am hoping it will get enough sun to ripen and turn orange. There is at least one other vine growing into the bush, because the other specimens are not pumpkin. They are also eight to ten feet off the ground.
One of the pumpkin vines (I thought) I transplanted to the other side of the house. It now has fruit growing, but not pumpkin. I have two volunteers growing; one at each end of my front garden. One has tried to ensconce itself on the front steps, so I have added an old wooden step ladder to my landscape to give it something else to grow on. We shall see what that puts out. On the other end is a small vine with two eggplant shaped, green fruits. One might be developing warts. I’ll keep hoping.
I don’t know if I got a package of mixed seeds, or if the neighborhood squirrels are seed sharing, or if it is something out of my compost pile. Perhaps the bees, which have been busy, are setting me up with hybrids.
I picked the first one over the weekend. My neighborly headed vine had produced a huge yellow fruit that was dangling from the corner fence post. Eventually it proved too tempting for some of the neighborhood kids and they had to swat it off of its precarious perch, which damaged it enough that I had to pick it. So far it has provided three consecutive dinners. Squash, kale and garlic salad, squash and kale vegetarian lasagna, and garlicky squash spaghetti sauce with Merlot added. Today I think I will try either squash bread or squash crisp. Maybe squash/kale muffins, or chips.
I understand that pumpkins were feed for cattle in ages past. Easy to grow and store, tasty, and full of energy. I am beginning to see how a small space might be able to supply a substantial share of my diet. Next year I will have the added gift of old wooden extension ladders and thus save some wear and tear on my Lilacs.
For now, I’ll just be happy that the fruits of my/our labors, are not zucchini.