The Lone Pumpkin

Isn’t she a beauty?

pumpkin collage 2015

The Lone Pumpkin, 2015

This humble pumpkin grew from a single plant, self-seeded in a dry patch of dirt in our drought-parched state. Annuals are generally thirsty plants, with shallow roots drying quickly under a hot sun. I watched this plant wilt at the end of each day, only to revive the following morning with seemingly nothing to draw from but a bit of morning dew.

Please don’t laugh, but I’m easily attached to the things that grow in my garden. Each plant, flower and tree touches me in some way. So when that humble pumpkin plant first appeared, I tried to turn a cold eye to the possibility that it would not survive the season.  As our reservoirs drop further and further, I can no longer casually open the bib of a hose. We make every drop count. Once or twice I poured a glass of water at the roots, then stopped. If the plant had made it this far without my help, I reasoned, then I would just step back and let nature sort things out.

Of course me being me, I could only ignore this humble plant for so long. It formed fruit, only to be snapped clean from the vine a few days later by a rat or squirrel. Oh well, I sighed.

My humble plant was not deterred. She formed another piece of fruit, this time surrounded by a ring of volunteer tomato plants.  I whispered on the air for the squirrels and rats to eat the tomatoes first.  I started checking for nasty squash bugs. They show up when the fruit forms and quickly lay waste to the crop. No sign of them anywhere.

The lone pumpkin grew to a modest size, nestled in the care-taking arms of those tomatoes. Firm and dark green, she grew to her full size.

pumpkin and tomatoes

A ring of all volunteer tomato plants surround the loan pumpkin. That’s Slinky in the background

The vines started to show the tell-tale signs of the season’s end. The hollow stems yellowed and the leaves turned ashy and crisp. If you hold a dried pumpkin leaf in your hand it crushes into a powdery dust. They let you know that Autumn descends and our job here is done.

decaying pumpkin leaves

Pumpkin leaves decay as the plants energy goes to the fruit

I saw orange! My lone pumpkin turned orange. Little bits of color appeared and the pumpkin continued to thrive unmolested. Somewhere in time, I’d fallen head over heals in love with her. Now fully vested in her complete fruition, I did what any self-respecting gardener would do: I drove to the local drug store and bought a pair of extra-large pantyhose.

pantyhose clad pumpkin

Pumpkin safely ensconced in pantyhose

Why?

Rumor has it that rats and squirrels don’t like the texture. I can’t say that I blame them.  It worked.

I quietly harvested the pumpkin in September and let it harden off for three days under my watchful eye. Once indoors, free from the protective hosiery, I gave it a quick polish and a quiet welcome. You made it, humble pumpkin. Thank you for your lessons and gifts.

Addendum:

After clearing the dead vines, I asked Mike to dig down in the area to see if the plant was accessing some ground water. He hit hard-pan! Not a drop to be found.

pumpkin patch dry pan

Cleared pumpkin patch, digging for signs of water

39 thoughts on “The Lone Pumpkin

  1. That pumpkin so wants to be with you for Halloween! Will Mike carve it? If he carves it can you dry it out and let it be a forever lantern? It’s as Cindy says, the Great Pumpkin has come to you!! [Or at the very least, sent this one!] How cool is that? This is surely a sign that the rest of the year is going to go very well indeed 🙂 xoxo

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  2. What an awesome little Trojan that pumpkin is!! Having learned of your love of Halloween I find it miraculous that this fellow grows himself for you against the odds. Enjoy the golden gift. 🙂 xx

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  3. Amazing that your pumpkin survived on nothing but dew. Great that tomatoes volunteered to protect it, though – how’s that for companion planting.

    Pumpkins are resilient and feisty, I think. I have one plant that produced nothing all summer and now has decided to kick into action. So I’ve put it under a cloche to give it a bit of shelter. I wonder if it will grow any further?

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  4. A little miracle has happened in your garden, a symbol of hope for the coming season perhaps. Isn’t it wonderful when life finds a way against all the odds? No pressure, but any carving will have to be pretty special!!

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    • It is a symbol of hope, isn’t it? I like that. Nature amazes me at every turn. I think that’s why gardening never gets old: there is always something new to discover.

      As for the carving, I leave that to my husband who is an expert carver. He works all day on Halloween to carve his masterpieces. I grow ’em, he carves ’em. We’re the perfect team.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a heart-warming story, Alys! You have such a wonderful way with words, I’ve now found myself invested in this orange fellow 🙂 I look forward to seeing what you come up with for his Halloween costume – something superpowered, perhaps, given his tenacity and strength in surviving against the odds 🙂

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    • Thank you, Stacy! So nice of you to say.

      I like the idea of a Halloween costume. So many options to choose from. I leave the carving up to Mike who carves in such detail every year. He loves it. Now to think about carving tenacity into the side of the pumpkin, coupled with Pauline’s idea of it being a beacon of light. Lots of fun ideas to ponder. You’re the best!

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      • Can’t wait to see what you come up with, Alys!! We’ve become pretty pedestrian in our efforts of late. Well, come to think of it, we didn’t even carve a pumpkin last year 😦 Wow, gotta change that this year 🎃😃

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  6. It’s a great story, Alys! No wonder you love the pumpkin, who could resist such a hero? Not only has it survived on dew, but those pesky bugs haven’t returned. I remember the photos of those ugly things that you posted last year.

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    • You remembered! Anne, aren’t those squash bugs nasty? They took over the entire plant last year and the year before. Not a single one showed up this year. This great little pumpkin survived all sorts of odds. It makes me happy.

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  7. Isn’t that amazing! It must have known how much it was loved! Such a nice reward for sticking to the water-saving regulations. 🙂 Now, I wonder what you will do with it…..

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  8. So glad you wrote about this. I was wondering what happened to the pumpkin! It’s always a treat to see nature triumph in this way. I can’t help but think the tomatoes were indeed protective. Enjoy your pumpkin. It undoubtedly felt your good wishes.

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  9. It’s all been so well said here. I can only add my gratitude that Mother Nature has shown she will never give up on the lowliest of us. She even provided the protection for that pumpkin. What a wonderful way to end my day. I’m so anxious to see what will be done with your prize that will live on in infamy. :))

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  10. Alys, there is something so soothing, so heart-achingly warm that one experiences when reading your stories. It is abundantly clear to me that your caretaking nature has announced itself to the world, and the world has responded to you with great needs. You are the custodian of people and the earth’s offspring too. I cannot think of a position that demands more attention and throws a heavier cloak of obligation over one’s shoulders, but you wear this outfit with aplomb.
    I love your pumpkin. I cannot wait to see what “beacon of light” will shine from within it.
    Clearly, it will be a reflection of you.

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  11. It really is the little things that put the bounce in our day isn’t it? The little Pumpkin that could. I’m so happy it made an appearance for you, I know how much you’re missing your garden routines. Bonus, there weren’t any horrible squash bugs. I know you’re looking forward to your new landscaping and not a moment too soon. Having to watch everything die back is just rotten but now you can look forward to a new and improved landscape with indigenous plantings. I recently saw an episode of ‘This Old House’ where they were in Vegas, re-doing a yard with a water feature and It was very zen and I thought, better than before. Here’s the link, I think you’ll enjoy it! xo K

    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tv/ask-toh/video/0,,20864897,00.html

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    • You’re right, too, that I’m very much missing my garden routine. Normally right now I would be out there dead-heading, pruning, raking, especially under today’s glorious, misty day. It’s near impossible to get up and down with this boot, not to mention keeping it ‘cleanish’. This baby cost $350. Fortunately insurance paid for 2/3rd of it. Think of the stylish boots I could get instead for that kind of money. Sigh.

      It’s keeping my injury in check, so I’m grateful. But I know, too, that lack of fresh air, gardening, and my regular exercise routine have really been tough.

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  12. Pingback: And Just Like That It’s November | Gardening Nirvana

  13. Pingback: Pumpkins in July? – Gardening Nirvana

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