A Bubble Off Plumb

Adventures in gardening

Or, Reggie, I don’t think we’re in Oklahoma anymore

Posted 6/10/21

I really enjoy gardening. I especially like to plant and harvest. The hard slog between the two, not so much. I also enjoy summer vegetables, like yellow squash and fresh tomatoes. Often I will …

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A Bubble Off Plumb

Adventures in gardening

Or, Reggie, I don’t think we’re in Oklahoma anymore

Posted

I really enjoy gardening. I especially like to plant and harvest. The hard slog between the two, not so much. I also enjoy summer vegetables, like yellow squash and fresh tomatoes. Often I will wander around the garden eating cherry tomatoes like candy. 

Last year, in Oklahoma, we had a bumper crop of tomatoes, peppers, squash and pumpkins. 

I learned a lot about pumpkins. I’d never grown any successfully before. Last time I planted pumpkins, they came up as squash, which I had already planted. Soon I was literally almost buried in squash. Thankfully I found an English relish recipe that used them up.

But last year, I put in just a few pumpkins. I just wanted a couple of three for the grandkids to use at Halloween.

No one explained to me that pumpkins are to the gourd world what zucchini is to the squash world. They went berserk. There were vines everywhere. They knocked down a fence, others grew through the fence, and spread all down the hill outside the garden space. Every time I went out to the vines, there were more blooms, and each bloom sprouted a pumpkin. We were overrun. 

With hot days and frequent rain, or watering, they grew like crazy. I slipped a bit of board or pallet under each one as they broke out in spots, and those spots turned to bands of orange and the orange finally dressed the whole mass of vine up in autumn colors. We had about 45 pumpkins. I gave them away. I used them for yard decorations. And I cooked a jillion of them for pies.

This year is different, though. First, we are at more than 4,300 feet. Everything has refused to sprout until the past week, even cold weather crops.

The ground I’m working with was packed from horses being penned up there, too many horses on too little an area. Needless to say they left behind big piles of horse poo. Luckily it has rotted in most places, but it is high in nitrogen and can burn delicate plants.

We had Chris Pelletier come out and till up the space, just to break up the hard pan a little. It doesn’t matter to me what, if anything, grows. I am just trying to reclaim the soil and turn it into a productive area, even if all it grows is grass. At this point I would even take weeds.

I knew I wanted to plant some beets for pickling and have tried squash and corn. The beets sprouted, but there has been no word from the other seeds, not even an SOS. 

I told our good natured tractor jockey that I didn’t plan to plant much, just a few rows here and there and let the rest try and regenerate as best it could. His suggestion was to broadcast seed for something that would keep the weeds at bay, break up the soil and make it better for next year’s garden. He even had a big bag of seeds left over from last season he was willing to part with. 

Pumpkins. Of course, it had to be pumpkin seeds. He probably still doesn’t understand why I ran screaming into the house and locked the door behind me.

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