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Former Program Coordinator, Horticulture
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Warning: this is not a story about prince charming, a fancy ball, or dazzling glass slippers. But, it does include a big, beautiful pumpkin.
In early June, a big, fuzzy, vine popped up alongside our cornfield. My husband was courteous to mow around it so we could get a better look. After much banter, we narrowed it down to 2 things: a pumpkin or watermelon vine. Reviewing the facts, it had to be a pumpkin.
Last fall, I threw my rotted pumpkins into our empty cornfield (my large-scale compost bin). One of those courageous seeds summed up the energy to germinate. Spring planting must have tiled it right into our yard, protecting it from the regular treatment field corn endures.
So, I found myself living my own fairytale. I did not have an enormous blue tulle dress, glass slippers, or an inspiring rags-to-riches story. Instead, my fairy godmother was Mother Nature and she blessed me with a pumpkin.
If I have planted the pumpkin myself I would've provided typical gardening maintenance: watering, weeding, etc. However, I wanted to test the strength of this volunteer plant. I understand that fellow gardeners may view this as cruelty, but what fun is life without a little science experiment?
Over the summer, I watched it grow, blossom, get powdery mildew, develop some bacterial spots, cry out for water in August, and finally produce a beautiful little fruit. Now, when it started turning orange, I did rotate it a couple times to prevent it from sun scald. So, it wasn't completely helpless.
Last week, the final heat of summer finished off the vine and my little pumpkin sucked up all the remaining energy to produce….a 10 pound pumpkin! While not a state-prize winner or a Guinness Book of World record holder, it is pretty impressive.
And Ava, Jack-the-Farm-Dog and the pumpkin lived happily ever after.
Have you had volunteer plants pop up in your garden or compost bin? What are some of your favorite "surprise" garden stories? Share in the comments below!