Thanksgiving weekend has just passed in Canada, and even though I’m not big on the holiday, the one thing I do demand is a homemade pumpkin pie. Fortunately, we made a pumpkin this year. Accidentally.
Here’s how it happened. Back in the late spring, a friend gave us some unmarked transplants for the Yardshare Garden. A few of them were squashes, but at that size we could not yet tell if they were bushes or vines. We didn’t have any full sun spaces left, so we tucked one into a slightly less than sunny spot near the back of the garden. It wasn’t the best spot, and we knew it wasn’t the best spot, but we planted it anyways. I thought it still had a shot and felt it was worth the experiment to see what would happen when the growing conditions aren’t perfect, but not too far off of the mark either. I’ve learned a lot experimenting in this way. Probably more than I’ve learned doing things the right way. Some edible plants surprise you: they turn out nicely but their yield is lower. Others are just too unhealthy and succumb to diseases and pests they might be more resistant to in better conditions.
When we planted the squash, I assumed it was a bushing zucchini. It wasn’t.
And so it grew and grew rather quickly as winter squashes often do. And when it was threatening to take over the yard, I brought over a freestanding trellis I had woven from green branches in the early spring and we wound it up and off of the ground.
It looked pretty good for an unexpected plant stuck in the wrong space. We were all surprised when the plant grew a pumpkin and the critters that visit the garden didn’t get it. I’ve grown pumpkins (intentionally) several times, but keeping them going in community garden spaces that are overrun by mammalian critters is difficult. The trick is to find ways to protect the fruit when you aren’t there, which is most of the time. City critters are smart — they always break through my defences. Yet, here we were with a pumpkin that we didn’t intend to grow, had put in the wrong spot, and had made little effort to protect. Go pumpkin!
Unfortunately, it was a strange summer. It was unbearably hot and dry for weeks, then raining, raining, raining. Not the best conditions for a squash plant that was not in the sunniest spot in the garden. The plant quickly turned the corner from nice to unsaveable in the bat of an eye. Fortunately, by then the lone pumpkin had turned orange and was very near mature. Eventually the plant died back entirely and the pumpkin fell off of its own accord.
Here it is.