Photo by Rick Gush
The aerial pumpkins continue to be the stars of this season’s vegetable garden. The fruits in the picture above are hanging in the lemon tree at the bottom of the garden, and they look like bright orange lanterns hanging in the tree. People keep asking me if they are going to fall one of these days, but I think the stems are made of pretty tough fibers and doubt that the hanging weight will cause breakage. The pumpkins aren’t that big really—about basketball size or smaller—but we’ve got a number of them, so we’ll be able to have a nice store of pumpkins and other squash for winter eating.
The amusing aspect of our squash crop this year is that it happened where we didn’t expect it. I planted a dozen different squash plants in carefully prepared beds and was optimistic about their chances for bountiful production. Alas, only one of those plants has produced notable fruit. But I did have a half dozen leftover seedlings I didn’t want to kill, so I found a few corners here and there where I could tuck in the seedlings. Of course, all of those second-class locations ended up being the killer locations, and all six of the leftover seedlings have produced notable squash. Ha!
Photo by Rick Gush
The photo to the right is of one of my best beds. I show it because I dislike garden writers and most garden magazines that only show the wonderful stuff. This bed from which I’ve carefully screened out the rocks and to which I have lovingly added bags and bags of fresh manure from the dairy up the hill looks fairly lousy this week. Of course, it is the end of summer and most of the garden looks similar. The plants having already borne their fruits, but the point is that all gardens don’t look like the images on the cover of Wonderful Gardens magazine. Ours is a real garden, and therefore often looks crummy.
I think that garden failure is the huge unmentionable topic in the garden world, but it is a very real part of our lives as real gardeners. Cute looking plants that we’ve purchased from the nursery don’t always grow well, and in fact, failure is more common than success with gardens. We kill enormous amounts of plants in our gardens. Everybody does. The flower beds at Disneyland look marvelous because the instant the little plants start looking shaggy, they are ripped out and replaced with fresh specimens. But we don’t think about that, and instead we usually say something like “Boy, those gardeners are really experts!”
Sure, gardens do pass through phases when everything is great and there are always some areas that are growing perfectly. But real gardening involves a lot of failures, disappointments and underperformance. Just like life. But that doesn’t mean that it (living or gardening) is any less fun.