Volunteers are pretty wonderful. They don’t usually eat your entire front yard though. This spring, we had a garden volunteer that ate my yard, walkway and my front flower bed. The volunteer in this case was the result of some lazy housekeeping on my part. Last fall, after our jack-o-lantern sat through several rainstorms, I looked at the mushy, squash-faced pumpkin and thought “I am NOT touching that mess.” Instead I took a shovel and tossed the goo into my flower bed. This was followed by some leaf compost and mulch from our oak trees. Then our pseudo winter came and I moved on to watching copious amounts of football. And basketball. At some point around the Final Four, we noticed a large and healthy-looking plant that resembled a squash plant in our front flower bed. We had no idea what it was, so we decided to let it go as an experiment.
And go it did. It spread it’s huge, green leaves throughout the garden bed. And the sidewalk. And the front yard. Once we saw the large, yellow blossoms, we knew we had a squash of some kind. Then, we remembered the ill-fated jack-o-lantern. Since the pumpkin looked far better than anything we planted intentionally, we let it continue to grow. All summer, the bees delighted in the huge blossoms and neighbors made Little Shop of Horror references as the vines continued to swallow the yard. But no pumpkins.
In early August, we noticed a small fruit that might be a pumpkin. Could it be??? We had long since resigned ourselves to the idea that we had some kind of Monsanto pumpkin plant that wouldn’t generate fruit until you paid a fee and signed your farm away, so the sight of a possible pumpkin was exciting. We watched it grow over the next few weeks. Gradually, it turned a nice shade of orange. We named it Gourdy.
So now it is September and our experiment has come to an end. Here is Gourdy, sitting pretty on my cake stand–a place of honor in our house. The vines have been cleaned up and composted. We can once again walk from the front door to the garage without taking a field trip through the yard. Summer is pretty much over. We’re trying to decide what to do with Gourdy. Not sure he’ll make it to Halloween, but we’ll give it a try. Regardless of whether he becomes a pie or a jack-o-lantern, we’ll save the seeds and try again next year. It’s funny how one little volunteer could give us so much mystery, delight and joy.
Thanks for the summer memories, Gourdy!