24 September 2010


I have officially harvested my first pumpkin.  It is a little undersized, but given that it's the only surviving pumpkin of the season, I'm incredibly proud of it.

I've been so immersed in the gardening world for the past few seasons--I can go on in great detail about the ideal backyard compost pile and when exactly one should plant peas in USDA Zone 8-9.  It's easy for me to forget sometimes that I've only been growing food for five or six years.  There's a long list of things that I have yet to try planting.  After this summer, though, I can cross "pumpkin" off that list.

For a long time, I thought that pumpkins were beyond me because, with only some containers on the back porch and a ten-by-ten community garden plot, space is incredibly limited.  This spring, though, my man and I decided that the big wooden crate that last year's sickly blueberry died in would be plenty of room for two pumpkin plants.  And up to a certain point, we were right.

The vines tumbled out of the container and wandered eight or ten feet down the sidewalk, right up to our--very patient--neighbors' front porch.  The blossoms came on beautifully, but then, one by one, they withered and fell off the vine.  I talked with my friends at The Garden Hotline, who diagnosed the problem as "incomplete pollination."  It was a rough year for bees in Western Washington, with a cold, wet start to summer.  Apparently, this created some pollination problems that extend well beyond my little pumpkin blossoms.

I could have tried doing some pollinating of my own, by going from blossom to blossom with a little paintbrush, but the timing of it never really worked out.  In the end, we were left with one handsome little pumpkin, turning round and orange on the sidewalk.  It might be small, but I couldn't be more proud.

Pumpkins ripening on the vine really do mean it's fall, and as I've mentioned in previous posts, I'm thrilled about the change in seasons.  I've always considered myself an autumnal soul.  Maybe it's the September birthday.  Or maybe it's because I'm from the Midwest, where fall is one of the more tolerable seasons on the calendar.  Whatever the reason, I'm ready to settle in for a few chilly, gray months of falling leaves and mud puddles.

If all goes according to plan, I'll be spending my weekend baking, knitting, and spending time with family.  I'm also planning on doing some cooking, starting with tonight's dinner, enchiladas baked in this.  Maybe you've got a grand plan for your weekend, too.  If not, here's a to-do list to get you started:

Download a quilt.
Protect your dinner table.
Fall in love with fatherhood.
Find a use for that pumpkin.
Knit a lampshade.
Subscribe to something new.

Happy weekend, everyone!

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