Friday, July 23, 2010

You Know You're a Gardener When ...

I was standing outside talking to Deus Ex Machina after lunch today, as he was getting into the car to go back to work. He comes home each day, I cook lunch, and we eat together. It's very nice having him working so close to home ;).

We live on a little dirt road that doesn't see a lot of traffic. We get enough I'm-lost-and-turning-around traffic to make it a *public* road, but not enough that we don't notice strange cars. So, we noticed this strange car. Not only was it unfamiliar, but they drove just past our driveway, then stopped, and backed into our neighbor's driveway, where they sat pointing toward my backyard. I thought they might be one of those town's people who drive around looking for illegal buildings, and as we just put up a new shelter for our chickens, I was, understandably curious as to what they were so interested in. (For the record, though, our chicken coop is not illegal. It is not a "building" by town ordinance definition. It is a frame with a dirt floor, a clear plastic roof, and chicken wire walls, but from the road, only the roof is visible).

So, I stepped back a couple of steps to make sure that they could see me, and I just stared at them with what I hope was a curious smile (more likely it looked more like a a what in the hell are you looking at? scowl).

They pulled out of the driveway onto the road and rolled down the passenger window to inquire if the plant growing over the wood pile was a "flower or squash", and at that point, I did smile and tell them that it was hubbard squash ... a volunteer in my garden that was growing, courtesy of some seeds from a hubbard squash I'd purchased from the Farmer's Market last fall.

I never intended to grow hubbard squash. I did want pumpkin, and I chose a hybrid seed from the Johnny Seed catalog that, reportedly, has a very short vine, but is a prolific fruiter ... so far this is true. Interestingly, though, the hubbard vine in the front yard, that's growing too close to the pumpkins have cross-pollinated, and the resulting fruit has a shape similar to a pumpkin, but with the blue-warty skin of the hubbard squash. It will be interesting to cut into it and see what we have.

What I love about the hubbard squash, though, is that it is a long storage keeper. I bought the squash, either, at the end of the market season in October ... or during the winter market in December. We didn't eat it until March, and all that time it was stored on the floor in my bedroom (we have neither a root cellar nor a basement). It's pretty amazing, and while squash isn't one of our favorite foods, the knowledge that it is such a good grower and has such a long storage capacity makes it a good choice for my homestead.

Except that it most definitely does not have a small vine ..., which is why those people stopped to stare.

In reference to the title of this post - you know you're a gardener when people stop to look at your garden. I don't know that I would really call myself a gardener. Mostly, I'm a seed-planting enthusiast. I pop some seeds in the ground and then take a decidedly wait and see approach.

And I love volunteers.

And, apparently, they reciprocate those feelings.

Growing over the wood pile and into the driveway*

Growing over the potato towers and out into the yard

I only wish I'd invited the folks who stopped to stare to take a tour of my edible landscape.

*Sorry about the pink tint to the pictures. My camera is doing wonky things, and it may be time to find a new one.


  1. I am someone who gawks at veggie gardens as we drive. It's always nice when Hubby drives and I can really look around. There is one the next town over that I want to stop and ask about, maybe I'll get up the nerve one of these days.

  2. I am growing Hubbard for the first time ( I love squash but have never eaten Hubbard) It is HUGE! The flowers look as big as my husband's head. Isn't fun when people stop to admire your garden?!

  3. I currently have *garden envy*, so I would definitely have stopped to look at what was covering your woodpile. And I would have enjoyed a tour of your garden, if asked. I'll bet those folks would have loved it, too.

    I think the squash is awesome. That's one of the things I miss most about not having a *real* garden, even though I grew zucchini in a container last year. Along with being able to pick them when they're still small, I'd make an occassional harvest of the blossoms for stuffing. Oh, yum!

  4. i'm glad that your lookie loo had innocent intentions. we always get uncomfortable when people slow or stop without saying anything.

  5. I love that they stopped to check out your garden. I've done that on my bike, and I particularly enjoy it when the homeowner is out working so I can talk to them.

    In the right conditions, pumpkin stores well, too. I've stored them for 5-6 months several years in a row. The key, for me at least, seems to be to keep them in the coolest room in the house (I don't have a root cellar) and leave plenty of space between them. They fare better put on a wire shelf or grate than on a solid surface. I checked them frequently and used them up if they developed any discolored spots. As soon as one spot starts, they go quickly...and rotting pumpkins don't smell good.

    However, rotting pumpkins thrown outside in an unused bit of garden space is a good way to get more volunteers. :)

  6. If you are throwing rotting pumpkins is unused garden space, does that change them from volunteers to conscripts?

    The garden is amazing this year ... it is jungle-like, but eveything seems healthy and happy. I have also really been paying attention to the pollinators ... mason bees, bumble bees, flies, dragonflies, butterflies, moths.

  7. A seed planting enthusiast - I LOVE that description! I suppose nature is the true gardener.

    Enjoying catching up on your blog and Mooseboots. Will be checking out the brain tanning. I've not been putting my hides to good use.