Nothing But Sincerity!
I am so excited about our pumpkins this year. The vines in the raised beds are huge, and still growing. There are currently five pumpkins, and the vines are still blooming, so we might get more. The rain we had in July really helped them achieve their current size. However, the rain also left the ground damp and slug-ridden. We actually lost a couple of pumpkins to slug damage last year. I had to get my squashes off the ground!
If I had planned ahead, I would have built trellises for the vines to grow on and slung the pumpkins into supportive hammocks. Since it is far too late for that (this year), I went with the next best option: separating the squashes from the ground. This can be done with scraps of wood, extra cardboard, or straw. I went with straw.
- The first step is finding the pumpkins. This sounds easy, but they like to hide under their own leaves. Note that the one pictured above has invaded the tomatoes.
- Next, gently roll the pumpkin to the side. Be careful not to crush the vine or damage the stem. Inspect the bottom of the pumpkin for damage and remove any slugs.
- Build up a nice thick nest of straw (or slide in your lumber or cardboard) and carefully roll the pumpkin back into place. They look like they are nesting. How cute is that?
I will check on the nests regularly and add more straw as it compacts. If I am really smart next year, perhaps I can catch the pumpkins earlier and place them on upturned flower pots to keep them out of the mud.
Then we have the Front-Yard Pumpkin situation. The thing about members of the squash/cucumber/melon family is that they cross pollinate very easily. Bees can go from one squash variety to another, mixing up the pollen and creating random hybrids. However, not until the second generation is fruiting is this genetic mix visible. People who save squash and melon seeds cover up the flower buds and hand-pollinate their vines to keep varieties distinct.
I am no botanist, but it appears that the pumpkin seeds in the compost, which sprouted forth as our Front-Yard Pumpkins, were pollinated by a zucchini. The vines are rambling, like a pumpkin but the squash certainly have a more zucchini like shape. The big question is, do we pick and eat them as a summer squash or let them stay on the vine in the hope they develop a pumpkin-like shell we can carve?
This one tasted pretty good, actually. They definitely have a hint of pumpkin-like sweetness. I think I will wait and see if they turn a bit more winter-squashy, though. As you can see in the background, our zucchini are producing quite well.
Every year, the Food It Yourself garden faces different weather patterns, pest problems, and volunteer plants. This year is turning out well, so far. What is your garden doing this summer? What is the biggest surprise for you? Share in the comments section!