The Slipshod Gardener 4: Of Ponds and Pumpkins
Pumpkin flowers are large and showy
The Dangers of Gardening Whimsy
My second spring on my devil’s 1/3 acre was an aggressive one. With the help of herbicide, black plastic, and winter, I had eliminated grass from a large portion of my front yard. The ill-begotten mound had been tamed by the introduction of the pond in its center and my beau made me a raised bed. I also made a border bed along the side of my driveway.
Everything was coming along great when I realized there was no way I had enough money, time or energy to do what I wanted to do. So everything came to a halt just as it was beginning to get interesting. Whatever else I was going to do beyond setting up the pond and the raised bed needed to be cheap.
The raised bed was initially put in as a veggie garden. While I was shopping for seeds and plants for it, I picked up a package of pumpkin seeds on a whim. Partly a whim. I hadn’t set out to buy them, but when I saw them, I figured their big leaves would be a great way to hide all the bare ground I currently boasted.
So, yes, I planted pumpkins in my front yard, specifically on and around the mound. It was a sort of gardening humor. I scraped the ground a bit, dropped a seed and patted it down in the most slipshod manner and snickered as I went, not expecting any of them to actually take. Well, maybe one or two.
While I waited for seeds to germinate, my beau took me to a landscaping store in Huntsville to buy a few fish and a rather expensive water lily. The initial pond development was topped off with some Louisiana iris bought cheap from a woman needing to thin hers out. I had been tempted to buy tadpoles as well but my mother assured me that frogs would find my pond even though I had never seen one on my property. She was right. Before summer’s end, I had frogs.
Not only did the frogs set up housekeeping, but the pumpkin seeds germinated--every last one of them--and they prospered. Their robust arms stretched across my yard in amorous abandon. I had pumpkins large and small by the end of July, much too early for Halloween. A man stopped by to ask if he could buy one for a family reunion cook-out. I invited him to take whatever he wanted. He had difficulty hauling the largest one away.
Meanwhile, I had trouble keeping my pricey water lily. I had new neighbors across the street with young children. Either they were dragging it out or it was dragging itself out. I preferred to believe the former but never caught them at it. One time I found it beached about six feet from the pond. Another time it was in the middle of the road. The third time it disappeared entirely. I suspect the iris survived only because of the weight of the pot.
In August the squash bugs arrived en masse and turned my amusing pumpkin patch into a grotesque invasion of six-legged scuttlers worthy of a Hitchcock film. Using an insecticide didn’t occur to me until the carnage was too far gone. I pulled up the plants and what was left of the fruit and threw everything over the back bank to finish rotting out of my sight.
In the fall, I planted very conventional mums around the pond.