September 2 (Click all pictures for larger view)
"I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than be crowded on a velvet cushion." ~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)(If you've missed the first four installments, you might want to read them first, here: Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, and Chapter 4.)
At this point, the lady thought these five pumpkins would be the only crop; but then.....
......the vines continued to grow and the flowers, both male and female, continued to bloom; the bees and fruit flies continued to arrive. The vines were on their way to the street so the lady turned them gently to the front of the house. After consulting the internet, she pinched off the ends, trying to curb the growth. This worked for a bit, but side shoots and vines simply took off at right angles to the main vines.
Sadly, the lady found the smallest, tiny, baby pumpkin sitting free in the yard; it had broken away from the stem and quickly softened and shriveled. Perhaps the lawn mower had hit it, perhaps a stray foot. The lady was sad but then she made an exciting discovery....
Under the prickly, variegated holly bush at the front edge of the flowerbed (bush at the right edge of the first picture above) was a small pumpkin. It was hanging, suspended in air from a vine that grew up through the holly bush; the end of the vine had grown out of the top of the bush and now headed towards the front yard. The little pumpkin was three inches across, the stem bearing the weight; surely it too would be lost! The weather was great, a few thunderstorms with lightning and rain and the little pumpkin grew in spurts; at times it seemed to double in size over night.
It grew and grew and to keep it from breaking the stem and falling under its own weight, the lady placed two bricks very carefully under the pumpkin. And it grew and grew some more; finally becoming the largest pumpkin in the whole patch, sheltered by the holly bush. This pumpkin is perfectly shaped with the typical deep grooves and with an even, dark green skin; and it is three times as big as the first batch.
While the lady watched over her "perfect" pumpkin, she found two little pre-pumpkins sitting in the grass of the front yard. Yes, they were on the "pinched" vine and right next to each other. The flowers opened, bees came and the little bulbs began to grow.
These two little pumpkins began to grow at a fantastic rate. Within a week they were as big as the seven inch pumpkins and a few days later, even larger. One grew to about nine inches and the other, as large as the sheltered pumpkin. Both were growing "bottoms up" with stems down into the grass. The lady was afraid this would be a problem, so she gently slid two thin boards under each one. (Note to any future pumpkin growers: This is not a good idea. Instead of filtering away the water, the boards trapped it and the smaller pumpkin quit growing and started to break down. The boards were removed.)
Now the lady had established pumpkins and new pre-pumpkins sprouting up every day; the vines so thick and the leaves so broad that seeing all of them was difficult! The pumpkin count changed daily, sometimes twice daily!
And what has become of the remaining (4) pumpkins of the original group? Well......
The pumpkin in the flowerbed is definitely turning orange and those in the grass.... a hint of yellow just starting. Oh! The excitement! Pumpkins turning colors, pumpkins growing to enormous size, pumpkins beginning every day, flowers blooming, vines growing .... and all from sixteen little seeds!
And the questions keep coming! How do you know a pumpkin is ripe? When do you pick it? What do you do with it after you pick it? Are the requirements different for "Fairytale" pumpkins than regular ones? How long will these flowers keep blooming and how long will these try to make pumpkins? Will the fruit flies ever go away?
Again we wait......
(To be continued.... but again, not today)