It came from outer space. Or perhaps the sewer. It has all the neighbors talking.
So to answer your questions: yes, that is a giant squash plant growing by the side of the road next to my house and no, I did not plant it there. I'm not stupid.
My best guess is that Squashra was an accidental gift from a neighbor. The demon seed fluttered across the street, then landed in the ivy bed, where it settled in for what should have been a long, long rest. We're talking pure clay, partial shade, and a concrete roadway, not to mention competition for light and nutrients. I can barely get my daffodils to bloom there.
Oh the irony. For years, in an effort to protect the crops from deer and rabbits, I grew vegetables in containers on my elevated deck. Mostly I limited myself to tomatoes and peppers, but occasionally I branched out to Brussels sprouts or fennel. The results were decidedly unimpressive. One year we got a bumper crop of habenero peppers - so many that we ended up having to freeze most of them, since a little haberno goes a long way. The sweet peppers, Brussels sprouts, and fennel were flops. Sungold cherry tomatoes were the one and only things I could grow.
My foray into vegetable gardening came to an ignominious end last summer, when I finally conceded defeat at the hands of the squirrels. A 15 foot high deck is practically ground level for those brazen little beasts, and when the Sungolds were ripe they showed up in droves. I got sick of chasing them off the deck, sick of propping up broken plants, and sick of cleaning off half-eaten tomatoes from the railing. No mas.
But now Squashra has arrived and, without any assistance from me, in the worst possible location, is going gangbusters. I am studiously ignoring it. I refuse to get emotionally invested in whether it lives or dies, produces any fruit, or succumbs to rabbits or squash borers. I prefer to think of it as comic relief, a reminder - as if I needed one - that Man plans and God laughs.
8/16/2013 11:53:24 am
I LOVE IT!! Long live squashra!! I seriously think it's hysterical. I hope it grows the best squash on the planet. I think that should be your new squash bed. :)
8/16/2013 01:53:04 pm
You know, I'm thinking about it! We'll see how this year goes. It could be a new trend, like square foot gardening.
8/16/2013 12:52:00 pm
I love your blog! It gives a comradely "misery loves company" thrill to those of us who live near the increasingly large droves/herds/flocks/cohorts of rabbits, deer, and squirrels.
8/16/2013 01:54:43 pm
Thanks so much, Susan. I knew I was not alone in my suffering. From now on, I buy my vegetables the way God intended me to - from a supermarket.
8/16/2013 01:01:37 pm
New expression: "Man plans, and Squashra laughs" LOL! :)
8/16/2013 01:55:37 pm
I'm glad I could make you laugh, Aaron. Squashra sends his regards.
8/16/2013 01:04:48 pm
Accidental success is still success, and we mustn't deprive God of her belly laughs.
8/16/2013 01:56:15 pm
God does indeed have a strange sense of humor.
8/17/2013 01:04:19 am
There are worse things in life that random squash plants, right? And the foliage is so nice, I am thinking of using it as an ornamental next year.
I suppose it will produce like anything given that you are ignoring it! As for squirrels, in the 1970's they reintroduced the fisher in this area. It is a big weasel that had been exterminated. It did very well. One of its favorite food is squirrels and it shows. This year there is not a single one around. Some years there are one or two. You should know however that, given they opportunity, they also eat cats....
8/17/2013 01:05:42 am
I have never heard of the fisher! They sound positively frightening, especially if you're a squirrel or a cat. But do they also like tomatoes? Or are they strictly carnivores?
8/17/2013 01:08:06 am
No pods yet, but I am keeping a close eye on it. One of my neighbors is dead-ringer for Sigourney Weaver so I am counting on her to help me in case of trouble.
8/17/2013 05:25:34 am
I'm going to do that from now on. It seems to work just as well.
Glad to uncover your blog via Jason and I find it quite entertaining. My advice: don't look a gift squash in the mouth. It's a gift from your gardening guardian angel to get you to think outside the box and try new things. After a bumper crop of a bastard squash, I see you out there next year, planting a refined hybrid of your choice. Mark my words.
8/17/2013 05:29:20 am
Hi Patrick. Thanks so much for your kind words. You are probably right - I may be out there next year trying my hand at squash, but will I be planting it in a real garden bed, or on the road? That is the question.
8/19/2013 02:11:04 pm
I think I remember seeing squash used as a rodgersia substitute (do they still call it that, or has its name changed?). It is really quite attractive as foliage plant, but it takes up so much room!
8/19/2013 11:16:25 am
haha I feel your frustration with vegetable gardening. It seems that all of nature suddenly is against you when one starts a vegetable garden. It looks like Mother Nature is being extra mean and wants to rub it in your face! Well, I hope you get the last laugh and that Squashra gives you loads of fresh and delicious squash!
8/19/2013 02:33:32 pm
Thanks Holley, but when have we ever had the last laugh on Mother Nature? I am fairly sure that, if Squashra produces any squash, the rabbits or squirrels will find it first. Plus would it be a good idea to eat something that has been growing on the roadside?
8/19/2013 04:32:59 pm
"Man plans and God laughs" -- so true! What a great example! Now I will be curious about what happens with that Squash. Great post!
8/20/2013 02:01:58 am
Thanks, Beth. It's an old French or Yiddish expression, depending on who you ask. Doesn't it really sum up what life is all about? As for Squashra, every time I pass it I have to resist the urge to check for emerging fruits. I can't allow myself to get attached.
8/20/2013 11:07:49 pm
I seen post-Halloween, left-to-rot pumpkins seed themselves and thrive, so maybe it's a squash thing.
8/21/2013 01:59:41 am
It must be a survival-of-the-fittest thing as well, since I know a lot of people who are great vegetable gardeners who have trouble with squash diseases.
8/21/2013 11:07:06 am
I think you have the expression right! It could very well have been a used-up pumpkin from last Halloween. I doubt it was a prank - who would think it would actually grow?
8/21/2013 04:46:02 pm
This really made me smile! It reminds me of the time my youngest son brought home from school a tiny plant sprouted from a pumpkin seed. We dutifully planted it in the garden, amongst roses and other beauties. That tiny seedling turned into a monster that swallowed most of the front garden. My husband almost pulled it up, thinking it was the notorious kudzu. Later that year we harvested about 20 pumpkins from that plant. Everyone in the family and immediate neighborhood got one. We made sure the teacher got one too.
8/22/2013 01:56:48 am
They do look a bit like kudzu, now that you mention it. And just as vigorous too, it seems. I hadn't realized until this post that pumpkins were so eager to live.
9/8/2013 03:20:55 am
Hi, Sarah, you asked about the green and white variegated plant in my garden. You are right, it is a caladium. I have several planted in the ground in that particular area. They are marginally hardy in my area and will usually survive the winter if I mulch them well.
This was such a funny post! I could so identify with your experiences with growing vegetables. The backyard bunny got all my strawberries, my parsley and all but one of my swiss chard. My tomatoes have produced a minimum of fruit. I would be grateful for a rogue squash at the point!
8/23/2013 08:11:40 am
Thanks so much for the link back - I am definitely still interested. Such a shame about your vegetables. Honestly, I think rabbits are worse than deer. They are hungry all the time! But parsley? That's just rude. I thought rabbits hated herbs.
8/23/2013 08:17:39 am
Somehow it makes me feel better to know I'm not the only one! Vegetable gardening seems to be an entirely different talent from flower gardening. But maybe you'll have better luck now that you're down south again - or at least, you might get your wish and get cucumbera. Things like to self-seed here, I've found.
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The Galloping Horse Gardener is a native New Yorker who packed it in in 2005 to live under the radar in Cary, North Carolina. In 2014, she removed to a new secure location somewhere in Raleigh.
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