Garden Party: Mystery Squashed

I feel like an idiot. This morning, I took a good look behind the leafy veil of the mystery squash plants and solved one of the mysteries: the multi-tasking plant is not multi-tasking at all. It is not producing both zucchini and pumpkins. What I saw was so self-explanatory that I’ll just put up the pictures:

A: pumpkin plant with dark green ribbed stalks. B: zucchini plant with light green smother stalks.

A: pumpkin plant with dark green ribbed stalks. B: zucchini plant with light green smooth stalks.

A: dark green ribbed stalks intertwined with zucchini stalks. Note pale yellow round fruit in lower right corner. B: Smooth light green zucchini stalks.

A: dark green ribbed stalks intertwined with zucchini stalks. B: Dark ribbed stalk with pale yellow round fruit in lower right corner. C: Smooth light green zucchini stalk.

For heaven’s sake, the stalks were even color coded! If I couldn’t figure it out from that, I deserved all the confusion I suffered. No pumpkin dissection was necessary. The second mystery is therefore solved as well: these look like pumpkins, they are pumpkins. Yes, these pumpkins are growing much faster than their kin across the driveway but they are in better ground and getting more water. Their stalks and leaves are different but I will stop judging them by that.

I was wrong about how like the zucchini they were, I may be wrong about what a pumpkin plant is supposed to look like at all. I accept it, I am growing a whole lot of pumpkins in my garden, and they are having no effect whatsoever on my zucchini crop (aside from not being zucchini and thus depriving me of a greater excess of zucchini).

Elsewhere, I have met with mixed success. The lettuce is begging to be eaten:

Seems like the best way to thin it would be to eat it.

Seems like the best way to thin it would be to eat it.

I’m not much of a lettuce eater. I did figure out how to pick them and wash them, but I haven’t had more than one salad. Maybe when the tomatoes come on, I will eat more lettuce. I hope it lasts until then. The newly planted peas appear to be doing well. I may get a symmetrical pea crop after all:

Peas, first and second plantings.

Peas, first and second plantings.

Ever since I cut back on the water, some things are being flooded less and seem to be thriving. The carrots and onions are not among these:

Not much going on here.

Not much going on here.

I have no idea what I have done wrong with the carrots and onions. I re-seeded almost a month ago now. I put the wire over them right after putting in new seeds, so I don’t think anything has eaten them. I tried more water and less water but still almost nothing has come up. It is very frustrating. I thought carrots and onions were supposed to be easy. And why aren’t there more weeds? I haven’t weeded since I put that wire on, so where are the weeds? I recall having trouble identifying the onions among the grass last year. It is probably something obvious, like toxic soil.

The squashed squash plants are recovering well. Even the yellow squash that looked so dismal are starting new crops of little golden rounds:

Little round yellow squash, showing clear signs of being scalloped as well.

Little round yellow squash, showing clear signs of being scalloped as well.

The big lemon cucumber plant is getting bigger by the day, but its neighbor burpless cucumber is starting to stand up for itself. It looked a little withered for a while but now has some starch in its vines:

Burpless cuc in the top left, almost indistinguishable from the lemon cuc on the right.

Burpless cuc in the top left, almost indistinguishable from the lemon cuc on the right.

Inside the lemon cucumber plant, the not very pretty pale cucumbers continue to grow and multiply. I’m going to see how lemony-colored they can get before I pick more.

Not quite lemon-colored cucumbers.

Not quite lemon-colored cucumbers.

Tiny baby peppers.

Tiny baby peppers.

I am finally seeing some real, if slow, progress on the pepper plants. The sweet banana pepper is definitely making something, though the jalapeno is just slowly falling over and not making any buds. The sweet Italian pepper is also not doing anything but being green. Maybe they all need hotter weather and less water.

The water challenge is not quite over. The accidental lawn is back. I hope it will die off now that the garden is not getting flooded daily. Instead of 60 minutes of water once a day, the timers are set for 15 minutes twice a day.

Maybe I didn’t mention that I was randomly flooding the garden due to defective timers. Every other day, it seemed, the water would start up as programmed, but then fail to shut off. Dad suggested that the timers could not handle 60 minute settings (and probably the plants didn’t need it anyway) so we cut back to 30 minutes, then 15 a few days later.

At first, everything seemed a little shocked by the reduction, but that may have been a few hot days that nothing could defend against. Certainly the new plan cuts back on our water consumption. I give some of the bigger plants a little hand watering in the mornings. The wilting cucumbers needed a little extra too but now they look quite robust.

Having to hand-water may defeat the purpose of a drip system, but it gives me a chance to look everything over and do what little weeding there is to do. And really, the purpose of the garden is not simply to get food, but to contemplate the getting of it.

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