Sunday, October 16, 2011

The volunteer pumpkin!

If you follow us on FB, you know we've had an ongoing story about a crazy pumpkin. Here's the whole story!

This spring I was determined to finally have a garden! I have never been successful in doing so and figured since I finally had carpel tunnel surgery in February, I should be able to garden this year without the wrist pain. For FHE one night we planted a large variety of seeds into a little starter tray and left it on the counter to sprout indoors. Sprout they did and we were quite excited as the little garden began to grow.

Spring was very wet and I was busier than usual with the kids and we had trouble getting around to preparing the garden area. It was overgrown with weeds that continued to grow with each rain storm and no one was anxious to get out there and till it. But I wasn't ready to give up yet. We started having warmer days, but the nights were still cold, so I put our little garden tray of sprouts on the back step to get some sunshine. Then at night I would bring it back inside so the sprouts wouldn't freeze. We were doing good so far!

I have two cats that think they rule the world and everything belongs to them. Friday, our black cat, decided to use my tray of sprouts as a bed. He's a very large cat and he pretty much took up the whole tray. I think he must have liked the idea of sunbathing on the soft dirt and plants. Grrr, that darn cat. Of course the sprouts died and I was ticked that my garden was ruined.

The next day or so we had another spring storm with a lot of wind and that tray blew over to the other side of the stairs and the little dirt clods the seeds had been planted in were everywhere. I threw away the tray but never cleaned up the dirt. I was very frustrated with the whole situation and feeling quite like a failure as once I again, I would not have a successful garden.

Spring forward to summer. July arrives and suddenly a plant grows up from in between the concrete and the window well. It started growing very fast, several feet a day in fact. We had no idea what it was but guessed that it was a larger plant, considering it's rate of growth, maybe cucumbers, zucchini, squash, watermelon, or pumpkin. We had in fact planted some of each of these in our tray so this plant could be pretty much anything.

The plant started to take over the patio and even in front of the stairs. It had fruit growing on it that was round and buttercream yellow. One day, Zack and I sat on the back steps and just watched the plant. We were amazed by the little tendrels that were curled up on the branches. I told Zack, "If this were a movie, that plant would wrap it's tendrels around you, drag you in and eat you alive!" We both laughed.

The fruit started growing at an alarming rate. We had two large somethings and I decided it was time to figure out what they were. Thinking maybe they were spaghetti squash and we should be harvesting and eating them before they get this large, I cut one off the vine, took it into the house and chopped it in half. It produced a sticky sweat and Matt licked it and declared it to be pumpkin. Darn it! Then I was bummed that I had cut it off the vine. Oh well. There's one more out there bigger than that one had been. Now that it was the only fruit growing, it started growing faster every day. It was so crazy. We'd look at it in the morning and then look at it that night and be able to see that the pumpkin had grown an inch or two.

The coolest part about this style of gardening was that we didn't have to weed the garden! The sprinklers and summer storms gave it all the water it needed and it took over a huge section of the patio and part of the lawn. We decided to cut the pumpkin off the vine on October 1st in order to display our surprise prize on the front porch. After loading it into the wheel barrel, Matt got the scale and we weighed the pumpkin in at 110 lbs! Compared to prize winning pumpkins at the fair this pumpkin is very small, but compared to the pumpkins I normally buy, it's huge! Imagine how much bigger it would have been if it had started to grow three months earlier when most people initially plant their garden. It could have been at least twice that big. Amazing.

A couple weeks ago I was able to talk with my cousin on the phone for awhile and we discussed this crazy volunteer pumpkin. She reminded me that the volunteer pumpkin is a representation of hope. Planting a seed that seems so insignificant and then taking the steps of faith by living the way the Lord has asked us nourishes that seed and it grows. Once it starts to grow and we recognize it as hope and the Lord's love, it becomes easier to nourish it and it grows like wildfire. So does our love of the gospel and the blessings the Lord provides us as we follow His guidance. Our trials may be huge, but the weeds of discouragement can be kept at bay as long as we have hope. What a beautiful comparison that was for me!

You may be aware that we live on an acre of land (much to our chagrin). An acre is a lot of land to have to take care of. While we'd much rather live in a neighborhood and have more people around us than farm animals, we're currently stuck trying to make the best of it. After seeing how little effort it took to grow this huge pumpkin, Matt and I have decided it would be a lot of fun to use our back third of an acre grow literally tons of these pumpkins next year. When fall comes we will sell them and then use our pumpkin money to pay for Christmas! It would be a family business adventure. Matt loves to research and has learned a lot on how to grow these pumpkins to be huge. Come spring I think we'll be more anxious to get the garden and the back third of an acre under control so that we can begin our first pumpkin patch! I'll keep you posted on how that goes.

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