Progress in the Garden Box of Endless Fascination

Time marches on, and my little garden in an elevated box is growing. The basil in the left hand front corner is growing like crazy, and it is time to make another pesto, I see.

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In my last post, I wondered if the female pumpkin flower would set fruit. Yes, it did! Not just one pumpkin, but TWO of them. We aren’t going to starve this winter after all!

The photo below was taken on Sept 12. I can practically see the pumpkins growing.

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These little beauties are putting on about 1-2 inches of circumference a day. As of today, the larger pumpkin is 12 inches in circumference, and the smaller (and younger) one is 9 inches in circumference. In comparison, a mature jack o’lantern or field pumpkin is about 25 inches in circumference, while a little sugar pumpkin for making pie is about 15 inches in circumference. Given what I am likely to have dumped into my compost bin, a pie pumpkin is far more likely. I figure it is some kind of pumpkin-type winter squash, i.e. probably a Cucurbita pepo.

These two pumpkins are on one vine, but I have several other mystery winter squash vines growing out of the box. I was very surprised to find a nice little acorn squash in the box. I don’t seem to have a photo of it, but here is yet another female pumpkin flower on a different vine. I think I have at least three different pumpkin vines that sprouted from the homemade compost that I added to the box, plus two winter squash vines.

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I originally thought that the squash below was a butternut (Cucurbita moschata), but now I have my doubts. I don’t remember butternuts going through such a dark green striped stage before turning tan. This baby seems to have reached its maximum size, about 8 inches long. That seems too small for a green-striped cushaw (Cucurbita mixta). I am pretty sure that I didn’t dump any seeds of a cushaw into the compost bin, but there are definitely butternut seeds in there. At this point, I am just waiting to see if it turns tan. We are going to eat it either way.dsc_3381

The yellow crookneck and yellow straightneck summer squash (also Cucurbita pepo, go figure) are growing like crazy, giving us all the summer squash we want (and more than my husband wants!). Poor guy, I am giving him squash almost every day now, in one form or another. My current favorite dish is quinoa with garbanzo beans or white kidney beans, plus sautéed summer squash and whatever seasonings strike my fancy. This dish really needs chopped parsley or kale added to it for color.dsc_3379

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I am getting really confused about the Latin names of squashes now. According to the New World Encyclopedia (and Purdue University agrees):

C. maxima = Hubbard, Banana, and Buttercup squash

C. mixta = cushaw squash

C. moschata = butternut squash

C. pepo = most pumpkins, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, summer squash (yellow, zucchini, scallop)

Anyway, it looks like we are going to be getting yellow squash for a few more weeks. Hope my husband doesn’t move out. The green beans are going to be ready to pick one of these days. That should keep him at home. He loves green beans.dsc_3370

On to the fruit harvest. I never weigh my strawberry or blackberry harvests. I eat the strawberries right from the planter. There are so few of them that they never make it into the house. Well, this week, I managed to bring in the blackberry crop to photograph. This was it. Two berries! In all fairness, there are some more berries on the vine that are ripening, but not many. They should have been ripe in June, but the vines didn’t even flower until August. Global weirding?

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And that concludes my garden tour for now. I am working on cleaning up my other in-ground raised beds for fall planting, but at my age, that task goes pretty slowly. Good gardening to you!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Lou Murray, Ph.D.

I'm a professional writer/photographer, avid gardener, and active environmentalist living in southern California. I am retired from writing a weekly newspaper column on environmental topics in the Huntington Beach Independent, but I am still teaching at the Orange County Conservation Corps. This blog chronicles my efforts to live a green life growing as much food as possible for my husband and myself on a 4,500 sq ft yard that is covered mainly by house, garage, driveway, and sidewalks.
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4 Responses to Progress in the Garden Box of Endless Fascination

  1. Dawn Pope says:

    Hi Lou,
    Are you finding the raised bed keeps the critters away from your healthy looking crop? I’m tempted to do the same thing if it will keep things out of reach.
    Your basil is just beautiful!

    • So far, no critter has bothered this elevated box. I contend with rats, a fox squirrel, raccoons, and an endless stream of possums in my garden, plus birds that peck stuff. So far, nothing has bothered the elevated bed. Knock on wood.

  2. Norma Chang says:

    You sure are getting bountiful harvests from your box. Looking forward to learning what your mystery squash is.

  3. Norma, I am thinking that the mystery squash must be a butternut. I should know soon as it has reached its full size and is beginning to lighten.

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