garden

The Unexpected Pumpkins

Tomato plant with unexpected pumpkin sprouts

So, this (in above picture) happened a few days ago. My first thought was that maybe it was zucchini from the compost. Then my husband pointed out it was probably pumpkin, and I realized he was right.

What happened:

We didn’t make jack-o-lanterns last year because of Covid. One of the two years before that we bought pumpkins, but never got around to actually carving them. The kids might have painted them, I don’t really remember. Either way, we set them next to the house in a small strip of rocks and dirt about a foot and a half wide that runs between the house and the sidewalk up to the front door. That area had at one time been covered with decorative rocks but over time they had thinned out and it was part rocks, part dirt.

Then we just left pumpkins sitting there. then they started decaying and we thought, “We should throw those out.” But didn’t do it right then. As you can imagine, it didn’t get better over time. A week later we were deliberately leaving it alone because it was a gooey mess no one wanted to touch, and over more time it was basically dirt and seeds. And it stayed that way. For years. Until I decided to use some of the ground to plant things in, cleaning up the rocks and putting down new potting soil. I didn’t bother to pick up all of the many many dozens of seeds because they had been sitting out in the sun and rain and dirt for years. Surely, if they were going to grow they would have already done so, yes? Apparently no.

A week or two after planting a little tomato seedling there, the above picture happened. Yesterday I dug the sprouts up and moved them into little pots. There were even more sprouts under the soil that had small yellow leaves and hadn’t made it to the surface (I’d added many inches of soil on top of them), so I repotted them too. I moved one a little further down past the tomato plant to an open area, and a couple over to the space where I had hoped to grow grapes. The dormant grape stick has been there over two months now with no sign of life so we are pretty well given up on it now. Any of the seedlings in the post that survives my transplanting process I will find good homes for.

In other gardening news, the sunflowers are growing amazingly well, and I can’t wait to see flowers:

Mammoth sunflowers growing! (and a dormant grape vine that isn’t).
garden

I’m Growing Cotton

Cotton plant in bloom

I’ve really gotten into my garden this year. Maybe because I’m physically in better shape, maybe because we aren’t out running around as much so I can dedicate the time, or maybe I just missed it enough to at last put the work in. I’m not sure why this year is when I finally fought off the invasive vines that had literally taken over the entire space, and salvaged the plants that had been suffocated by them, and cleared out the broken junk and debris that had gathered out there. But I did, and it’s so nice.

Calling my outdoor space a yard is probably too generous. Patio might be a better word. There’s no grass. Just concrete and a retaining wall against the back fence with some huge rose buses that were there when we moved in. So all my additions are in pots. A lot of my bigger pots had disintegrated over the years and I finally threw their crumbling husks out this spring. My two remaining large post are holding a tomato plant and pumpkin. I also have two large Earth Box style boxes ( I think only one is an actual Earth box). I just moved my other tomato plants into one when the peas that had been there were done. The second has lettuce and what I’d hoped was cotton.

I planted several kinds of seeds in that box and had trouble getting anything to come up. So i just kept trying new things to the point where I’d kinda forgotten what all I’d put in there. The lettuce was obvious when it cam up, so I knew what it was, and it’s still growing great. Pumba, our guinea pig loves it. The other plant that came up was unfamiliar to me. I hoped it was the cotton, because I really wanted to grow that, but it had been over a month since I put those seeds in , so I wasn’t sure if it was maybe a weed, or just something else I didn’t remember planting.

Time has confirmed it is cotton. I love the blooms. They start off white and get deeper and deeper pink over a few days. You can see several stages of color in my picture above. I don’t know how long it takes for the fluffy cotton to come along, or how to tell when it’s ready, so I have some research to do, but it’s exciting to watch. (feel free to drop any cotton wisdom you have in the comments please!) Now I need to pull my spinning wheel out of the garage and get it fixed up and operational. Fun!

P.S. Those vines in the background of the picture are the ones that had taken over in the past several years. I am letting them keep that corner they started in and gave them a small lattice to climb. But I wonder if this is asking for trouble and if it would be better to tear them out all the way. They do make a pretty purple flower in the spring. I feel maybe I can keep them under control now that I’m paying attention out there. Thoughts?

crafty things

I made a worm bin

My daughter needed worms for a science experiment, and I have missed having a worm compost bin for the past several years (we gave ours away when we moved). So when I ordered some worms for her, I got enough to start up a new small compost bin. Had to order worms online since I assume bait shops are closed.

Now, I originally thought that I would make a full sized bin out of big Rubbermaid containers like our old bin, but it turns out we are having a pandemic, and I don’t want to go out shopping for containers. I already had several of these smaller plastic bins, and since I didn’t get very many worms, I thought they would probably be okay in here for a little while. So I pulled out the drill and put the air holes in. I still plan to upgrade them someday to the bigger arrangement. Our old bin had three levels and I only made two here, although I have one more container. I’m considering if I should go ahead and add it, or wait it out until I make the new set-up. It isn’t looking like we’re going back to normal anytime soon, so I will probably give the worms the additional layer. Might as well make them comfortable since they could be stuck in the temporary bin for longer than intended.

My original bin was kinda like this one, but I used containers that were not as deep as those pictured. The one I just made is the same, only much smaller. I’m going to keep them in the house for now, but I’m trying to figure out the best spot for them. I was reading that they are best kept in the house anyway, so I should probably figure out a good spot for them longer term.

Here’s hoping my garden will cheer up and sprout a little better if I can get some worm compost into those poor sad pots!