Sunday, February 7, 2021

Pam's perfect pumpkins


Gosh, my last posting here was back in November, with a photo of my foot in a cast and an update on how I am doing no gardening at all.

Well, some things have changed, but I'm still not doing any gardening (I'll explain later) but that doesn't mean there is no gardening being done here this sunny Sydney summer. In fact, yesterday was harvest time and what a wonderful discovery our harvest provided for us.

Two beautiful Jap pumpkins, found hiding deep within the pumpkin patch.

Now, these are definitely Pam's pumpkins. She found them while clearing away the pumpkin vine. Over the last few months we'd been through various phases of growing our first pumpkin plant. These are:

1. Planting just one little seedling. That cute little baby couldn't possibly take over and cause chaos? Surely not.

2. The joy of watching children grow up so rapidly. That brief phase lasted about a fortnight.

3. The realisation that everything they said about pumpkins taking over is true! (Time for a photo, I think).

At the peak of its takeover, if you blindfolded yourself, got out your camera and took some random backyard photos, there's every chance a pumpkin would be the main thing you'd see.

4. The sudden, other, realisation that the enormous roaming giant of a thing isn't actually producing any pumpkins at all! I tried hand-pollinating by using a paintbrush to take pollen from male flowers to female flowers, but as my injured foot cannot yet walk on any uneven surfaces, I had to limit myself to parts of the pumpkin vine that were next to the path. As a backyard sex worker, I was a dud. Z-grade jigolo!

5. The sad decision that while the foliage still looked kinda great, it was actually harming every plant it monstered. So it was time for Godzilla the pumpkin vine to spend the rest of its days in the green recycling bin.

Of course it was the amazing Pammy who did all that hard work. She donned my gardening gloves to stop prickles making a mess of her hands, and with the help of her secateurs she chopped away at Godzilla, showing no fear. 

And that's when she discovered her first pumpkin.

It was over by the side fence, sitting on a drainage grate, so the underside was dry and in perfect condition.  

As more of the pumpkin vine came out of the garden, Pammy found her second prize fruit, also in perfect condition.

Now, I know the theory of harvesting and ripening pumpkins is that you're meant to wait till the vine dies back a bit more, and for the stem to start looking wrinkly at ready to let go of the vine, but we don't really care.

That's because Pam immediately comandeered the pumpkins as suitable still life subjects for the watercolour art classes she teaches (find her on Instagram at @pamelahorsnellartist if you're interested in learning how to paint in watercolours, by the way).

While we both love cooking and eating pumpkins in all sorts of ways, these special home-grown ones won't be finding their way into a roasting pan, soup pot, wok or frying pan anytime soon. If I want to cook up some pumpkin, our local supermarket has plenty to choose from.

And so that's the perfect summary of how our garden is growing right now. Pam is doing ALL the work, I am hardly doing anything. My broken right foot is healing steadily, the cast is off my foot, I am getting around on a walking stick, and I can do lots of simple domestic chores such as cooking, washing up, hanging clothes on the line and I even can go shopping at the supermarket. But to do all that I need smooth, level perfect floors. Any uneven ground, like lawns or garden soil, are filled with ankle-twisting pain, so I am staying away from danger for another month or two, at least.

I can now at least water the garden every morning, standing on the path with a hose in my hand, but Pam has been doing all the other gardening jobs, and really getting stuck into it some days. So to finish off, here's a few general shots of Garden Amateur land this summer of 2021, brought to you by my darling Pammy.