Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Great Pumpkin Part 5: Gay pumpkins and droughts

My giant pumpkins were all gay (not that there is anything wrong with that). And a drought has killed them all. While I grew better, stronger pumpkins than I did the previous year, I now have only three yellowed plants with anemic squash flowers on them to show for my Giant Pumpkin Experiment.

It was obvious to me on Independence Day that there would be no giant pumpkins at The Tiny Bungalow when I had no fruit starting to mature on the vine. The book said that I should have one fruit that I was starting to bet on by this time. Scurrying, I did some background reading on hand pollination and realized, to my dismay, that I had no female flowers on any of the six plants stretched out across the backyard. The male flowers were crawling with bugs, confirming that the lack of a tiny giant pumpkin on any of the vines was not a problem of insect inactivity. So I began checking obsessively and daily at dawn and dusk - when the shy female flowers are more likely to be open - in the hopes that a female flower would emerge that the bugs would fertilize once, and I would follow up with the double fertilization by hand.

But nothing. I began to think that my pumpkins were gay.

Then our swank suburb by the ocean entered into a state of water emergency, restricting to the use of hand operated sprinklers (or hoses in everyday parlance) every other day. Irrationally I began to worry that the reason the pumpkins were producing no female flowers was because they didn't have enough water and this was going to cement the fact that I'd be carving watermelons at Halloween instead of a carriage sized pumpkin. In my mind I had made my pumpkins gay by withholding water from them.

Now, home from vacation, three weeks after the initial realization that there would be no giant pumpkins this year, I have given up hope for the three shriveled up plant mounds. My pumpkins, in defiance of the word of God, have literally not been fruitful, nor have they multiplied. They have remained a joyful handful of male flowers on increasingly yellowed pumpkin vines.

I am now putting all of my pumpkin eggs into the watermelon basket. This morning I fertilized the watermelon vines, which proudly boast at least eight of the tiniest and most perfect miniature melons I have ever seen. I hope to have watermelon to give away to my family and friends by the end of August. And one I will keep to carve as a jack-o-lantern for Halloween.

Over the winter I'll read more about giant pumpkins and try to figure out how to make year #3 even better than years #2 and #1. I will not give up until I have a giant pumpkin to call my own.


In other garden news, I've discovered, in this year of gardening at The Tiny Bungalow, that one side of the garden gets TONS of sun. The plants growing there are going bananas - I have cherry tomatoes entwined with zucchini which have locked leaves with peppers, cucumbers and cauliflower. I am practically drowning in zucchini, and the cherry tomatoes will need to be picked daily to keep up with their gorgeous, jewel like selves. On another side of the garden the zucchini plants from the same six-pack are tiny and have yet to produce one dark green, squashy bat.

In the spirit of learning I know (a)where to put tomatoes versus brussel sprouts and cauliflower, (b) I need to find better strategies for fencing off the garden from rabbits but NOT from me, and (c) my charge for the Winter is to find organic ways to keep the invisible bugs from eating all of my cabbage-like plants. I also need to make more space for the sun loving veggies and to give each plant wide enough berth to do their enormous veggie-making thang.

I'll be solo for the next two weeks, while BMG is in New Orleans on assignment. This means lots of vegetables will be cooked and enjoyed for lunch and dinner. Give a holler if you want to visit for a garden fresh meal.

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