Sumthin Scary in the Bird Back 40...

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bird Back 40-Side Yard Test Bed
The photo to your immediate right is the state of just one part of the Bird Back 40. Scary, isn't it? When you see weeds THAT big? How did that little tiny weed reach a height of six feet? Why can't I see the back fence anymore? What is that traversing around and through the citrus trees?

That -- my good friends -- is a series of pumpkin vines that the Wife That Is Venus and I planted earlier this spring in the Back 40 "Test Bed." Keep in mind -- I've grown pumpkins before. But I've never experienced vines like this. They have extended 40-to-50 feet beyond where the seeds were originally planted and are intent upon growing right over the fence and into the neighbor's yard.

I hope the neighbor likes pumpkins.

Pumpkins here-Pumpkins There!
I know what you're thinking. What good are pumpkin vines if you don't have any pumpkins on them? That's a good question. Don't worry. Pumpkins I got. Way, way, way too many pumpkins. In fact, I'm not really sure how many I actually have. When the vines started to take off and grow Every Which Way but Loose during the summer, I sorta lost count.

At first? I thought it was kind of cute to have a pumpkin growing off a stalk of corn. What's that growing on the Caspian Pink Heirloom Tomato bush? A pumpkin! Pumpkins hanging from the Meyer Lemon tree? Grapes the size of pumpkins? Or just pumpkins? Short and sweet: The pumpkins are everywhere.

Note: This is what happens when you plant three different varieties of pumpkin seeds. You tend to get a LOT OF PUMPKINS.

Mass of Pumpkin Vines and PUMPKINS!
Mental note: Do not make the mistake of planting watermelon and cantaloupe seeds in the general vicinity of pumpkin seeds. Pumpkins will overtake them -- cover them  -- and essentially starve them of sunshine and nutrients. If you make the same mistake as I did -- and plant pumpkin seeds near melon seeds -- you will get lots of pumpkins.

And not much else.

Although it's probably now safe to tear out the vines and place the pumpkins in a pile in the Bird Back 40 -- I'm going to leave them in for as long as I can. We will get around to harvesting pumpkins for the all important holiday of Halloween -- and of course of pie and bread purposes (one of the varieties is a sugar-sweet pumpkin that is perfect for these types of creations). But I'm going to keep the vines going for as long as I can.

If this means I'm still growing pumpkins in December -- so be it.

Pumpkin Vines & Pumpkin Flowers
There is a method to my madness. The summer growing season is now coming to a close. All important sources of pollen that honeybees need to survive and thrive are starting to dry up. In response? Colonies are preparing for winter.

But if there's one thing I've learned? Flowers produced by pumpkin vines are like CRACK for worker bees. They are large producers of the pollen that bees need to survive and thrive. The pumpkin patch literally hums and buzzes with bee activity in the early morning and afternoons. There's not much left in terms of pollen producing plants, shrubs and trees. And I have pumpkin flowers coming out of my ears.

It would be shame to tear them out while they are still producing. So -- for now? The vines stay. This means the Hello Kitty Colony of bees will have a continuing source of pollen -- and won't suddenly turn defensive when the last pollen source vanishes. Defensive colonies are difficult to deal with. One wrong step invites a "kiss" (sting) from the hive.

Sugar Sweet Pumpkin
I'd rather avoid that if at all possible.

And so -- this is my very scary tale. Halloween is fast approaching. That means little ghosts, goblins and ghouls in the neighborhood and perhaps a Spiderman or two. If you happen to run across a home that is ablaze with lighted pumpkins, come on in and make yourself at home.

You've arrived at the Bird Back 40. The kegerator is located just inside the garage and to your right.

No comments: