I grew up in the desert, where all that grows is cacti and tumbleweeds. OK, lots of stuff grows, but not gardens. Nothing like Washington!
Last spring, being a brand new transplant, I was so excited to start my first garden. Charlie and I spent hours in different nurseries, carefully selecting what we wanted – and what we thought would grow. We didn’t read articles, or books, or even the internet. We didn’t know if different things should or shouldn’t be planted together. Had never heard of blight, or whatever mysterious garden funk kills off plants. We didn’t care. We were planting a garden! If we could buy a plant, or seeds, and put them in the ground, they would grow. Right?
We got patty pan squash because I liked the name and thought they were cute. They’re still my favorite. We also purchased cucumber, tomato, cantaloupe and pumpkin plants. We hoed, tilled, and fenced off a little area. I stuck those little plants in the ground and waited.
Before long everything flowered. Soon, we had loads of patty pans. We had little green tomatoes, the beginning of cucumbers, a couple of cantaloupe, and a good start on pumpkins. Then, everything died except the patty pans and pumpkins. We’ve since learned that we had chosen some pretty temperamental plants.
The patty pans grew and grew and grew, but the pumpkins were being weird. They started out round, but then got longer. I had no idea that was how they grew. I checked them every day. They kept getting longer, but wouldn’t “inflate.” They turned orange and started growing bumps. That’s when I realized we must have gotten “ugly pumpkins.” I figure they were mislabeled at the nursery, and went back to waiting for them to inflate.
I waited and watched. I asked people why my pumpkins wouldn’t inflate. I told them I had never known pumpkins grew that way. I always thought they started round and just got bigger. Nobody could tell me why my pumpkins were being so weird. They were stumped!
Then the fair came to town! We visited all the animal and agricultural displays. We learned so much and got so many ideas for new projects. One of the booths had master gardeners. This was my chance to talk to the experts and finally learn what was going on with my pumpkins. While telling them what was happening, I remembered I had taken a picture on my phone just that morning. They took one look at my picture and started laughing. Turns out my pumpkins that refused to inflate were actually crookneck squash! Oh