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Aerial Pumpkins: The Sequel

By Rick Gush, Urban Farm Contributing Editor

Friday, September 3, 2010

Aerial Pumpkins

Photo by Rick Gush

My basket-ball sized pumpkins hang in the lemon tree at the bottom of my garden.

The aerial pumpkins continue to be the stars of this season’s vegetable garden. The fruits in the picture above are hanging in the lemon tree at the bottom of the garden, and they look like bright orange lanterns hanging in the tree.  People keep asking me if they are going to fall one of these days, but I think the stems are made of pretty tough fibers and doubt that the hanging weight will cause breakage. The pumpkins aren’t that big really—about basketball size or smaller—but we’ve got a number of them, so we’ll be able to have a nice store of pumpkins and other squash for winter eating.

The amusing aspect of our squash crop this year is that it happened where we didn’t expect it. I planted a dozen different squash plants in carefully prepared beds and was optimistic about their chances for bountiful production. Alas, only one of those plants has produced notable fruit. But I did have a half dozen leftover seedlings I didn’t want to kill, so I found a few corners here and there where I could tuck in the seedlings. Of course, all of those second-class locations ended up being the killer locations, and all six of the leftover seedlings have produced notable squash. Ha!


Photo by Rick Gush

This is the best-looking part of my garden—not so pretty, is it?

The photo to the right is of one of my best beds.  I show it because I dislike garden writers and most garden magazines that only show the wonderful stuff.  This bed from which I’ve carefully screened out the rocks and to which I have lovingly added bags and bags of fresh manure from the dairy up the hill looks fairly lousy this week. Of course, it is the end of summer and most of the garden looks similar. The plants having already borne their fruits, but the point is that all gardens don’t look like the images on the cover of Wonderful Gardens magazine. Ours is a real garden, and therefore often looks crummy.

I think that garden failure is the huge unmentionable topic in the garden world, but it is a very real part of our lives as real gardeners. Cute looking plants that we’ve purchased from the nursery don’t always grow well, and in fact, failure is more common than success with gardens. We kill enormous amounts of plants in our gardens. Everybody does. The flower beds at Disneyland look marvelous because the instant the little plants start looking shaggy, they are ripped out and replaced with fresh specimens. But we don’t think about that, and instead we usually say something like “Boy, those gardeners are really experts!”    

Sure, gardens do pass through phases when everything is great and there are always some areas that are growing perfectly. But real gardening involves a lot of failures, disappointments and underperformance. Just like life. But that doesn’t mean that it (living or gardening) is any less fun. 

Read more of Digging Italy »

Give us your opinion on Aerial Pumpkins: The Sequel.
Submit Comment »
Hanging pumpkins, need to try this.
Carl, Livermore, CA
Posted: 4/14/2012 1:22:12 PM
I've set up some supports because I'm going to do this next year. I've got a 20-foot wall in the back and I'm going to grow them straight up.
Bruce, Las Vegas, NV
Posted: 7/7/2011 8:59:05 AM
Rick, you are so right about gardens. In the spring mine always look so nice and tidy; by midsummer the beds become a little shaggy around the edges; and by the beginning of September they have become a jungle in appearance. I agree with Christina that it's easy to get motivated in the spring but not in the fall cleanup.
David, Omaha, NE
Posted: 9/4/2010 6:02:42 AM
In addition to failures, the other great un-mentionable is the mop-up at the end of the season. To clean up all that growth, and prep for the next round, is a task that I procrastinate on for days.

Great article. Keep'em coming.
Christina, Long Beach, CA
Posted: 9/3/2010 5:33:29 PM

About the Blogger

Rick Gush

Rick Gush
Rick Gush has long been a staunch organic gardener. While a student at the University of California at Davis he worked at local tomato and sugar beet farms and continued in the agricultural and horticultural industries for many years. A career move in the 1990s led him to design computer games, but no matter how much of a techie he’s become, gardening and farming remain his principal passions.

In 2000, Rick moved to Italy, where he writes to you about his cliff garden and other experiences in Italian urban agriculture.

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