Friday, October 12, 2007

The Great Pumpkini

The piece of pumpkin that I picked up at the local Indian grocery on a whim was a tasteful shade of pastel orange, filled with seeds that I scooped out and was about to discard, when inspiration struck. I took a couple of them, rinsed them out and plopped them into a hole between the lavender and the zucchini in my late spring vegetable garden.

Within a week I had one strong little seedling which started to put out humongous variegated (green with silver patches) leaves, some spreading out like mini-umbrellas 10 inches across over the neighboring lavender. The enterprising tendrils started grasping and choking the lavender and invading a rhododendron right next to it.

The plant grew and grew, with nary a sign of any flower, though the zucchini nearby bloomed prodigiously, as did the green peppers, the beans on a trellis, the tomatoes and cucumbers. I kept peeling away the tendrils of the pumpkin from just about every plant in the garden, trying to prevent it from overgrowing everything in that corner of the garden. I mused on whether it was time to pull the blasted thing, since it wasn't showing any signs of flowering."Patience", counselled my favorite gardening website "Pumpkins usually bloom only after 10 weeks in the ground".

So it was that I left the garden for 4 weeks while we went on a long vacation to India, having asked a neighbor to water the plants in my absence.

Back from our trip, I took a bleary-eyed peek at the garden and saw that the tomatoes, peppers and just about everything else had keeled over, and the pumpkin had triumphantly invaded everything.

Still jet-lagged,I stumbled outside armed with a pair of scissors and started hacking away at the pumpkin, pulling it back upon itself. Pumpkini-Houdini was under control again!

It had dozens of large yellow flowers and one solitary pumpkin, a variegated dark and pale green blob, that grew and grew over the next few weeks, as I grudgingly watered it, preferring to concentrate on the tomatoes and the peppers which were still going full swing.

The solitary pumpkin(round zucchini?) is still a mystery, as of writing. I found something similar called a 'green striped cushaw' on a search but an unable to get an exact match to this one.
Now I feel like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin every Halloween, only I got a Great Pumpkini instead of the hoped for pumpkin!

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