The first annual pumpkin growing contest has commenced and it's all happening right in my back yard...literally. Frank heard about a pumpkin growing technique where you put a pot with holes in the bottom in the middle of the pumpkin mound. That way all the water is concentrated at the main roots of the pumpkins and they'll thrive. So, having a big back yard, a neighbor with two tons of compost, and a handfull of strapping men who lust after roasted pumpkin seeds, we now have five pumpkin mounds sprinkling the back yard.
When I first saw the mounds (I didn't yet know what was going on) I thought, "What kind of giant mutant gopher has infiltrated my back yard?" But when I heard it was a contest and they saved me a mound, I grabbed my pink gardening gloves, my pink trough, and said, "Bring it on."
The rules were: only two wheelbarrow loads of compost per mound and you have to get it yourself. I headed that way. I had a couple of little pip squeaks helping with the digging. We filled the wheelbarrow as big fat raindrops began to slowly pelt us. Undeterred, I wobbled my wheelbarrow towards my designated mound. I thought to myself, one load would probably be enough. I could also go back for another load later on, when I saw which way my plants were going.
I reached into the wheelbarrow and started spreading the compost around the bucket. When I found stones, I put them in the bucket to stablize it. I was putting in the last bits of dirt as it began seriously to pour. I had to work fast. I grabbed my pack of "award winning" pumpkin seeds and began to plant them in the mound at the four compass points.
Then I grabbed a pack of "Jack-o-Lantern" pumpkin seeds and filled in the blanks. It was beginning to get soaked through, but I had a secret weapon up my sleeves: Marigolds. I did my best to surround the mound with marigold seeds in order to fend off the plentiful and hungry bunnies that inhabit my backyard. They hate marigolds. I had already seen a bird swoop down and pick seeds out of another contestant's mound. "Hee, hee, hee...this one's in the bag," I thought to myself.
I dashed to the garage and got a child's snow shovel and a child's winter coat and scarf. I planted the handle of the shovel at the back of my pot and made a scarecrow with the coat and scarf. It should keep the birds away, I thought. Then I grabbed the wheelbarrow and ran it back to Franks's yard. I took refuge from the deluge at the Tiki, a marvelous place to be stranded for a few moments.
We shivered under the Tiki as Frank tacked up a tarp to keep the wind out. I watched as the strong wind blew my scarecrow right over. But the coat is heavy enough it should still stay by my mound and keep it safe from the birds.
It's funny how quickly I took to the idea of having a pumpkin patch instead of a back yard. But once I found out it was a contest, all thoughts of propriety flew out of my head. I love competitive gardening. I'm going to have the best damn pumpkins out there, if it kills me.