Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Summer Garden Fades on the Lessons of Pumpkin Sex and Pumpkin Pajamas

You can't have a summer garden without learning something about life. One of the biggest surprises is that it takes a male and a female blossom to make a pumpkin, and they have to get together to do this. I guess that explains the whole "birds and bees" lecture one always hears about.

The other lesson is that hiding one's light under a bushel basket isn't always a bad idea--especially when avoiding rodents.

When the stem starts to wither, it is time to harvest. Now I'm supposed to cure the pumpkin in the sun for a day or so. Hope I can keep the crows from flying away with it.

I harvested the first of my pumpkins today, and I was relieved that it made it from fertilized bloom to pumpkin, what with all the potential hazards it faced. Squirrels stealing the squash blossoms, rabbits nibbling at the young pumpkin starts. I finally covered each growing pumpkin with frost cloth--per instructions from the garden store. My neighbor called the look "pumpkin pajamas." But, it seemed to keep away the enemy.

The bunnies and squirrels turned to nibbling on the cucumbers, which I produced in far greater quantity and thus can afford to winnow. The animals don't seem to like them especially and just nibble on a corner of a cuke and then go away. The trick with the Pumpkin Pajamas, according to my advisor at the garden store, is that if a rodent doesn't see the pumpkin, it won't know to eat it. So the cloth is a sort of BDU--Battle Dress Uniform (camouflage, to the non military) for the annoying and stupid of our garden pests.

That's a female blossom, but it has not found a mate.

I'm still producing female squash blossoms on my pumpkin vines, but I don't seem to be producing any male blossoms for the necessary cross pollination. The males seem to be more particular as to environmental conditions--weather, temperature, phase of the moon. And they are not allowed to take any hot baths during the summer mating season. (Ooops. Just kidding.)

At one point, about a month ago, hoping to produce just one more pumpkin, I pollinated a female with a fading male blossom, using a toothbrush, fearing the birds and/or bees might not have had the time to get to this. The result seemed to flourish for a week or two and then turned mutant on me. I guess you really can't fool Mother Nature.

The early garden in spring: looking so neat.

You make lots of friends when you have a garden. All the instructors at my local YMCA know who I am now, as I always arrive with a bag of tomatoes and cucumbers to give away. And, I know more of my neighbors too.

The garden, which began by looking so neat and tidy in the spring, grew fruitful and messy and is now beginning to fade with the autumn light. It is my first summer garden in the house where I was raised and where my parents had so many gardens over the years. If gardens teach us about life, this garden continues the circle of my family's life.

My father, in his late 80s, with his two great grandsons, Timothy and James, in his garden.
It is the same plot where I grew my pumpkins this year.

Is it any wonder that we love our gardens? I'm already looking forward to next year.

End of summer (and pumpkin pjs) in the garden.

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JanetGrunst said...

Ahhhhh Robin,

Mr. Smith, our Biology teacher, would have been so proud of your detailed explanation.

Robin Chapman said...

And yet, I don't recall Mr. Smith explaining the Birds and the Bees part! (I think one of the boys in Trig class may have done that.)

Don Meuler said...

I'm thinking that because squash reproduce like rabbits, they should stick with each other, and leave the pumpkins alone.

As for the intriguing blog title, I'm not sure sex and pajamas really go together, but maybe that's just me...

Robin Chapman said...

I believe the two make an entirely "fitting" conjunction, but then, maybe that's just me ...

Don Meuler said...

I believe this bares further discussion...

Robin Chapman said...

Just as long as the discussions are transparent.

Don Meuler said...


Robin Chapman said...

I'm out! I believe we have worn out the fabric of this subject.