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The Slipshod Gardener 4: Of Ponds and Pumpkins

Updated on January 21, 2013
Humble beginnings
Humble beginnings | Source

Pumpkin coverage

This photo is indicative of the "ground cover" value of pumpkins. They are happy to take over.
This photo is indicative of the "ground cover" value of pumpkins. They are happy to take over. | Source

Pumpkin flowers are large and showy

Bees love them and they're even used in cooking, most commonly treated as a shell, stuffed with a soft cheese and fried. I didn't discover this until late in the season and didn't have a chance to try it.
Bees love them and they're even used in cooking, most commonly treated as a shell, stuffed with a soft cheese and fried. I didn't discover this until late in the season and didn't have a chance to try it. | Source

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.

Squash bugs

Singularly a bit comical. In a swarm, downright grotesque.
Singularly a bit comical. In a swarm, downright grotesque. | Source

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    • Jen Pearson profile imageAUTHOR

      Jen Pearson 

      5 years ago from Alabama

      Thanks so much, Peggy. It's nice to connect with another gardener here on hubpages. I grew up in Michigan and my mother was big into rock gardens, but I settled down late in life so this is the first time I've had property to play with. And I'm in Alabama--MUCH different from Michigan. It has certainly given me lots of opportunities to make mistakes, ask my mother for advice, and be amazed by the power of plants.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      5 years ago from Houston, Texas

      This was interesting and your title of the "Slipshod Gardener" caught my eye. We once had a half acre lot in Wisconsin Rapids and learned quite a bit about gardening. If you would like to read about that, the hub is titled our Wisconsin Rapids home and backyard organic gardening. Will look forward to reading more of your adventures. :) Up and interesting votes.

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