August 2011



Welcome to sex ed. Of course, as soon as I say, “Sex Ed” in my mind, I flash back immediately to…you’ll never guess (unless we went to high school together, and, if we did, you’re thinking the same thing I am) Mr. Hummer’s sex ed class. Yup. The kids called him Hummer. I think his last name was Holmes. He looked like Terry Bradshaw, but with less hair.

He was the school wrestling coach and always wore gym clothes to class. He was a goofy guy who somehow, got the job of teaching sex ed. 

Anyhoo, back from memory lane, it is time for sex ed on the DaisyPatch. Gather ’round kids. I may require permission slips for this one, it gets a bit graphic.

These pumpkins continue to amaze me. I will measure to be sure (the PUMPKINS, I will measure the PUMPKINS, get your minds out of the gutter!), but it looks like the vines are over 10 feet long. There’s also an errant compost pile pumpkin. How did I throw one away? Keith thinks that a seed might have taken root from some of our judicious composting. I like that theory. More random surprises in the patch to marvel at. I was thinking about relocating it, but I’m unsure how to dig it up because it’s roots start at the bottom of the little hill I throw the compost down into. No muck boot tall enough is going to protect me from that gore if I were to try to scramble down and dig it up. I might leave it there for an experiment. Which does better?  The bat-shit, Tiger-Bloom, Sex-Panther-fertilized pumpkins (i.e. purchased fertilizer) OR the rotten-leftover, garden-scrap, grass-clipping-fertilized compost pumpkins. We shall see. (5 points if you caught the Anchorman reference. “60% of the time it works every time.”)

Anyway, where were we? Right, sex ed. Yeah, so, Mr. DaisyPatch has been doing some reading on what to expect from (and how to fertilize – see above) giant pumpkins. He found out there are male and female flowers. Huh? I mean, I took biology and I know that, if you don’t buy self-pollinating fruit trees, you have to make sure you get male and female (right? Ok, I just had to look that up to be sure so I didn’t sound like an idiot. Yes, some trees are just male and others are just female. Thanks to an eHow article by Danielle Hill, “Dioecious plants are those species that have male and female flowers on separate plants. By contrast, monoecious species may have male and female flowers growing off a single plant. For reproduction to occur, one dioecious plant must be growing close to another plant of the opposite sex. Read more here.) and the same with holly bushes to get the red berries, however, this surprised me. I don’t recall any other veggies having the anomaly. It might be the case, but, well, I wasn’t aware of it. (And, if I’m going to be brutally honest here, I have no f’ing desire to read about the sex life of plants. I mean, could anything be more BORING?) (Wait! I did just go and read about the sex life of plants! Shit…)

Apparently, the female flowers have, well, a bulbous sort of…ahem…thing under the flower. That is the baby pumpkin.

The male flowers (below) need to pollinate the female flowers in order for the baby pumpkin to grow.

Otherwise, after the female flower falls off and dies, that baby pumpkin on the vine will wither and die as well instead of continuing to grow into a jack-o-lantern. Here’s the fun part for the gardener. Ready?

If you don’t have honey bees to do the pollinating, you gotta get out there and do it yourself. With your hands. Smearing the male parts onto the female parts (how would Mr. Hummer have worded this? I can tell you that a similar act was described by him in sex ed class and I am STILL shuddering in horror and NOW it is happening in my pumpkin patch? I need to go to church and be washed of these thoughts. My mind is wandering now to a gritty pumpkin porn with a bad plot line and poor lighting. I am SO having nightmares tonight.)

So there it is. Pumpkin sex. Happening out in our yard, under our very noses. I am so grateful for honey bees. So grateful.


 

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. ~Rachel Carson

Here’s the Patch in Pictures…August edition.


Talk about cukes! We’ve grown pickling cukes before, but not these regular ones. We have 6 plants growing up a vertical trellis. I’ve harvested 6 cukes so far and can count at least 15 more on the plants. My favorite recipe is pretty easy:

Make the dressing first. Put about 2 cups white vinegar, 1/2 cup white sugar and a pinch of paprika into a sauce pan. Boil (it’ll burn your nose, trust me) until the consistency is like a thin maple syrup. Cool in the fridge where it will thicken up. It will be a nice mix of sweet and tangy with a tiny lingering heat of the paprika.

Cut cucumbers into 1 inch chunks. Cut tomatoes into one inch chunks. (You know, about the same amount of each.) When the dressing is completely cool, mix some into the tomato/cukes until just dressed (don’t drown!) Serve immediately. It isn’t really that great the next day.

Enjoy!



My pumpin haiku…ahem…

Crazy big pumpkins

Can our garden contain you?

You’re freaking me out.

We’ve never grown pumpkins before. We’ve grown zucchini, however. I always need sugar pumpkins for my Thanksgiving pies and end up wanting more, so have to go out searching. Well, it’s less “wanting” more because I usually only need 2 pumpkins for my pies. I usually need more. One year, I left them outside and they froze. I didn’t want to use them after that, the texture was weird. The next year, I didn’t want them to freeze, so I kept them inside on the windowsill and they rotted. We decided that, this year, we’re going to grow our own and bought some organic, heirloom seeds (gotta start out right!)

I was a bit late in planting the seedlings and they were root-bound and not-so-great-looking. Same with the cucumbers. Keith picked up some more pumpkin and cuke seedlings for me at the garden center, you know, just in case (so thoughtful!) He also picked up 2 acorn squash by accident. We’ve never had that.

So, everything is doing great. More than great. The plants are large. Feed-me-Seymour-large. Shall we analyze the hows and whys? Yes, lets. Because Mr. DaisyPatch has access to the internet and he knows how to use it. He’s been reading up on the best fertilizers for each phase of the life of our plants (that sort of sounded parent-ish, like our garden will be fed Gerber Graduates or something. Now is not the time for psychoanalysis, thank God! Moving on…). We have all sorts of organic fertilizers that have numbers and pictures of veggies all over them.

Needless to say, the shit seems to be working (oh, and we did, of course, use guano, aka bat shit, when we planted, so that shit is working too). The thing about it is, um, how to word this, I think we’re sort of screwed. He also bought giant pumpkins in that little trip. Yeah. I guess the plants are giant too. There are three very long branches, (tendrils? stalks?) and, so far, at last count, over 20 flowers. Yipes.

These are just the giant pumpkins. I’ll save pictures of the cukes, etc. for the next freak-show-post. OH, small DaisyPatch update. The Edamame is dead. I repeat. The Edamame is dead. I’m pissed. I shouldn’t be. I knew it was going to happen. But still, I’m pissed. That is all.

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