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