Good God, the gourds!

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Last year, I had so many vines in my back yard I was nearly strangled to death while picking tomatoes. But I was excited as my pumpkins and gourds were everywhere in my little plot of land I call my own.

But I was sorely disappointed that even though I pulled a van-load out of that mess, they didn’t go as far as I wanted them to, as I have several businesses to decorate and a house that could use a little fall color too.

So it was with great ambition that I started ordering seeds last winter. As the snow flew on one particular day, I was actually home because my car was stuck in a drift. So I made my list and checked it twice. My wide eyes gazed at all the colors and sizes offered in the world of pumpkins and gourds, as I optimistically turned pages of my favorite seed catalog.

I envisioned piles of them perfectly placed in displays worthy of photographs in top magazines.

As I filled out my order form, I dreamed of a bright beautiful field filled with oranges and greens . . . then I turned the page and saw they offered weird white and blue ones too! Yes, I said aloud, yes! Let’s put some freaky into the mix as well!

About February, my seed packets started arriving . . . so many packets. Apparently, in my over-zealous shopping I had ordered seeds for medium pumpkins, large pumpkins, mini pumpkins, striped gourds, warty gourds, gooseneck gourds, mixed gourds, rainbow gourds, skinny gourds, perfectly round gourds, white gourds, white pumpkins, blue gourds, blue pumpkins, sugar pumpkins, classic pumpkins, bottleneck pumpkins, surprise gourds and just standard gourds.

It was a lot of seed.

Some of them were mixed together in one packet, some of them were categorized.

Again, it was a lot of seed.

But I was pumped full of anticipation as the freezing weather continued and I dreamed of a summer full of vines . . . and enough product in the fall to decorate every venue that needed it.

Then April finally arrived and per usual, I over-estimated the amount of garden space I really have in my back yard. I always do. The empty plot of freshly plowed dirt always looks bigger than it really is – and year after year I’m shocked with how close all my plants are to one another. Still, I planted several hills of small gourds and mini pumpkins. I did realize I had too many seeds for that area and stopped at some point. My grand illusions were just that – illusions.

Later I was chatting with Jim Klute about my dilemma – so many seeds, so much ambition, but not enough real estate. Now, Jim lives west of town on a beautiful acreage and he quickly offered up a portion of his big property on which to plant the leftover seeds and house the vines they would produce.

“It will be our project,” he proclaimed and said he’d not take no for an answer.

So I handed him a big bunch of envelopes and off Mr. Klute went.

Shortly afterward, I also had a conversation with my mother-in-law about all the pumpkins and gourds I needed. She, too, planted a plot on their acreage to be dedicated toward my goal.

So the vine growing began.

And what a summer for vines it apparently was! Jim would stop at our business in the evenings to show me pictures of his changing landscape as they started taking over the place.

I started to re-route some of my growing vines to go in different locations than where they were attracted – in order to save the lives of my caged tomato plants. I would move the vines and kindly ask them to stay on a straight course – but by morning, they typically had gone back to their original trajectory.

It was a daily battle.

Jim continued to water his breath-taking sea of green.

“I don’t know,” Mr. Klute said one evening when he arrived to give the update. “I don’t know what’s all out there, but it’s quite something. I tried to wade out into the vines and I made it about six feet and turned around. It was so thick I could barely walk. So the dog and I went back to the house – I’ll leave it up to you kids to figure it out.”

At the end of the summer, the in-laws brought us a whole bunch of pumpkins and gourds (of all colors, shapes and sizes). It was so exciting! They provided that fun pop of fall we were hankering for as the summer started to wind down.

Then, I decided enough was enough with the jungle of vines in my own yard – I wanted another month of tomatoes out of the year, so it was time to go in before they killed everything in the garden. My friend, Treva, helped me one fall morning – after an hour, we filled a van with all those little gourds and transported them to other destinations.

Then, Jim announced it was time to find out what on earth was happening at his place – it was time to clear everything out. So I went to the farm west of town with a posse – Lorinda, Michaela and Janelle joined me right after school and brought along their kids (numbering five). We needed the kids because the young ones would think it was fun. Jim provided a trailer on the north side of the monstrous patch, as well as advice from his golf cart as he drove around the perimeter.

The patch was so big it even grew into the trees on the west side of his property and down into the creek! I don’t know if deer and beaver like to eat pumpkins and gourds, but if they do, I’m sure they’ve been having a feast on things we couldn’t reach.

We attacked the patch from all sides and pulled vines as we went along because the whole thing was going to get mowed off anyway. I relished each and every box, wheelbarrow and laundry basket that was carried to the trailer. Well, for the first hour.

I offered a reward to anyone who found a blue or white pumpkin – but you know what, we never did. I first wondered if the seed had been bad, but it was probably just a result of some sort of cross-pollination.

We pulled out some big orange pumpkins and two really cool shiny green ones that still haven’t turned orange.

And pounds, and pounds, and pounds, and pounds, and dozens upon dozens upon dozens of middle-sized orange, green, striped, warty, bumpy, smooth, weird, normal pumpkins, gourds and strange creations of God from that field of vines.

The first hour went into the second. We kept plugging along. But at that point, the kids weren’t really feeling it any longer and a couple of them found it more fun to ride on the golf cart with “Mr. Jim.”

The second hour went into the third. I realized it was going to get dark soon and decided we needed to have an exit strategy. Well, the strategy had already been pretty much written for us as the trailer was so full the numbers couldn’t even be guessed.

We thanked Mr. Jim and he said he’d bring the trailer of pumpkins to town the next day.

And boy, did he bring the pumpkins to town. It was more astounding, the next day, to see the number of things we picked from that patch. It was more impressive after the fact than when we were in the thick of it.

Now a lot of those gourd-like things were still green so we started decorating with the orange ones. Slowly, box by box, van by van, we have been hauling out pumpkins and gourds, decorating up a storm, and the team has been taking what they personally need . . . but I told Treva two weeks ago as we loaded up more from the trailer, “I swear to God they are expanding.”

I’m now starting to see the bottom of the trailer and Mr. Jim says he has a place for the leftovers.

Everywhere we work and everywhere we live is well adorned with those orange jewels.

It really has been a team effort.

Good God, the gourds!

 

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