Things got a bit dicey in the pumpkin patch last month. Nearly a dozen pumpkins grew happily on the vine until disaster struck. A rapidly producing colony of squash bugs moved in and things turned ugly. If you have any doubt, take a look:
This pumpkin never stood a chance
Instead of leaving the orange pumpkins on the vine to harden, I harvested all but two and set them on the patio thinking I would wipe them off before bringing them indoors. The next day, the squash bugs found the harvest! Eek!
I brought the pumpkins inside one by one, wiping them down with the first thing I could get my hands on: my son’s lip balm. (Desperate times call for desperate measures). I didn’t want to bring garden pests indoors, so I figured the coating would put an end to anything I missed.
We’re big on pumpkins around here: we grow, harvest, decorate and carve them. It’s been a family tradition for a decade. I also enjoy saving seeds for the next season. This year I gave a few starters to friends, and passed on some seeds to an adorable pair of three-year-old twins that walk by the house with their dad. They planted the seeds and grew pumpkins of their own. I’m delighted.
The pumpkins hung out in the living room for several weeks, but as October approaches, it’s time to bring them center stage. I created a display on my iron bench combining an eclectic mix of drying lavender, three pumpkins and a refurbished fairy garden. Check back next week for the fall upgrade.
I love October. It starts with my birthday, ends with Halloween with plenty of goodness in between. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, this Boo season brings a special visit from Boooooomdee. She told me to expect her on the whisper of a dandelion, but I think she was teasing. I’ll go to the airport to fetch her just in case.
Boo season, here we come!
You don’t have to hit me over the head: dying vines and abundant squash bugs spell harvest day. I plucked my ‘prize’ pumpkin a week ago, fearing the worst, then made the worst come true. My garden lovely rolled out of my arms and with an unmistakable thud, landed hard and cracked down the middle. It was a sad pumpkin day. Since the squash bugs continue to nibble unabated, I figured it was a matter of time before they moved on to the rest of the patch. Three once-viable pumpkins have since turned to mush. Generally speaking, I would have left them to grow a bit oranger, but I didn’t want to take the risk. So…here they are.
I have two late-season arrivals, all shiny and yellow that I’ll leave in place for now. It’s still August, so they may be viable. One of the two is sitting out in the open, practically inviting trouble but the second one is hiding under the vine. Shhhhh.
You can’t see me!
Little yellow pumpkin, hiding under the vine
Oh and before I forget, I’d like you to meet Frank. He’s quite the character, but the way he’s been ‘running on’ I don’t expect him to hang around for very long.
Be sure to stop by tomorrow to meet Frank’s cousin Shelley.
Last night, while the sun was setting and the earth still warm, we harvested our big pumpkins. We ended up with four, one for each family member. I love how that worked out.
Harvesting Pumpkins is a Family Affair
We cut them from the vine and brought them indoors. The plan was to weigh each one on our Nintendo Wii Fit, the only reliable scale in the house.
Carrying the pumpkin to safety
As we made our way inside, my friend Betsy and her two lovely daughters dropped by bearing gifts: a beautiful white oleander. What timing! We invited them to join us for the great pumpkin weigh-in, a comical endeavor when you’re using the Wii. My son created a character called “Pumpkin,” then placed it on the scale. Everyone took turns guessing Pumpkin’s weight. We belly laughed for half an hour at all the silly assumptions the computer made. Our great Pumpkin had a BMI of 99.99! When we weighed a second pumpkin, it would suggest that “Pumpkin” needed to put on some weight…or lose weight, or get more exercise. Laughter is contagious. One person laughs and the room laughs with them. It was such good fun.
Wii Fit Weighs In
Every year, no matter what seeds we plant, our pumpkins surprise us. Last year we had an eclectic variety of pumpkins; one year we had several small ones. This year’s crop produced the largest we’ve grown. The fab four all grew from one vine, self-seeded by a bird or squirrel.
Our 4 Great Pumpkins
Here’s what we named them and how they stacked up:
- Cinderella Carriage – 42.8 pounds (19 kg)
- Craig – 53 pounds (24 kg)
- Stalky – 51.9 pounds (23 kg)
- Big Mac – 60.8 pounds (27 kg)
That’s a combined total of over 200 pounds of pumpkin goodness.
“There are three things I have learned never to discuss with people: religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”
-Linus, from It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown by Charles Schultz
Slinky is ready for Halloween
What a joyous day! Fall is in the air and pumpkins are in my house. We harvested three orange lovelies this morning, then brought them indoors for safe keeping. Two have been ready for a while but I left them on the vine for up to the minute ripening. The third pumpkin was a surprise, in more ways than one.
We still have four extra-large pumpkins on the vine, hoping they’ll turn a bit darker. Currently they have a peach complexion. I lifted one of these large pumpkins away from the beds to give it more sun, and discovered a smaller pumpkin had been growing just below. It has multiple cracks in an interesting geometric pattern, but each of the cracks healed over. I can’t wait to take a picture and share it with you. We’ve never seen anything like it. I’m wondering if the extraordinary weight of the pumpkin above caused it to slowly crack, giving it time to heal as it split. My husband and resident carver is looking forward to hollowing it out. He thinks it will look like a star burst. We’ll restrain ourselves until Halloween.
Do you think she’s waiting for The Great Pumpkin?
The plan is to give each of the larger pumpkins a name on our Wii Fit, so we can weigh them one by one. Won’t that be fun?
Meanwhile, I’m practicing sitting on my hands. Every time I go out there I want to harvest the fruit and make way for the winter garden.
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