Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Virtually free food?

Last time I told you about my butternut pumpkins (that's butternut squash too, for any overseas readers). Those were the pumpkins I planted myself in carefully prepared ground. But then, up the back are three GINORMOUS self sown pumpkins. They came out of the compost heap which I moved - and spilt - because it was in the way of the chicken coop which we were building (and still are, slow work in progress). I'm not sure what kind they are, I'd guess Jap or Queensland Blue since they're what we'd generally buy from the supermarket.

(Please ignore the weeds, they have gone mental and I'm telling myself I'll get on top of them once we move home...)

These three pumpkin plants are a demonstration that plants can - and will - adapt to the conditions they have. Self sown at almost exactly a meter apart, they have never had any water beyond the rain and yet never got wilty except on the very hottest of days. The butternuts, on the other hand, wilted at the first hint of heat and had to be watered almost daily through the summer. The butternuts got completely covered with downy mildew after some summer rain and the few nice warm days which followed... Not one spot of mildew appeared on my mystery pumpkins. Now, they're covered in male and female flowers, and although I was tempted to continue to leave them completely to their own devices I have been hand pollinating the baby fruits at every opportunity (many more fruits on each plant compared to the butternuts too which had about one each). Now I just have to wait and see if we get nice pumpkins from my irrigation-free plants or if they are completely inedible.

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