Planting Seeds of Hope

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We fully planted plot No. 1 of our two vegetable gardens this week. Typical of most gardeners, we complain that our plot is both too large and too small: When we’re about 2/3 of the way done planting and want to quit because we’re so tired, it’s too large. But when it’s fully planted and we’re looking down at five neck pumpkin seedlings that we simply can’t squeeze in, it’s too small!

We have a strategy with the plot. It’s three blocks from home, so we plant only crops that take up lots of space, require little maintenance, and can be harvested pretty much all at once. This year we put in Sweet Meat Squash, Neck Pumpkins, pie pumpkins and watermelon. Sweet Meats grow to about 10 to 15 pounds and are supposed to be great keepers, with rich, sweet flesh. Neck Pumpkins grow as large as 2 feet in length and weigh up to 20 pounds. They have a small seed cavity, so you get many pounds of delicious, vitamin-packed flesh in each one.

Due to changing weather patterns, we seem to get more deluge-type rains in this area. To protect our tender seedlings from drowning, we mound up the soil and put the plants high on the mounds. We also cover the entire plot with layered newspaper and then weigh it down with 75 or so wheelbarrows full of mulch. (Now you know why we’re so tired after planting!) Newspaper helps combat weeds by smothering weed seeds underground.

We hope to harvest at least 150 pounds of squash and pumpkins in the fall. People always ask me what we do with all of it. Because we don’t eat meat, we eat a lot of stews, soups and casseroles. I add a little squash to each one. I also make pumpkin soup, pumpkin waffles, pumpkin pizza and pumpkin bread throughout the year. Somehow we use it all up. The gourds store well until round about December, when I cook or bake them all up and stick them in the freezer. Perfect timing as there’s not much to do out in the garden in December ….

If you have a lot of space, try out a Neck Pumpkin or a Sweet Meat this year. Let me know how you make out!