The Great Pumpkin Patch

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One year, I decided to dedicate my vegetable garden to nothing but pumpkin plants.  Since my husband has a bit of a thing about pumpkins (Hubby’s Pumpkin Obsession), I had it in mind to save ourselves some serious money by growing our own.

The pumpkin patch was on a side lot to our house.  We’ve grown vegetables there many years and the garden patch is quite large, so there certainly was ample room.  Or so we thought.

Until the rain started.

Knowing how large and spreading pumpkin plants can become, I only planted two seedlings.  But that year, we had twice the amount of rainfall than normal.

The weather was pumpkin perfect.

The pumpkin plants filled the garden plot in no time flat.  Then, they started to encroach on the lawn.  This didn’t bother us much.  At first.  But eventually, it was getting out of hand, so I started going out to the patch every week and cutting off the outside edge of growth.

Pretty soon, I could no longer keep up with cutting the plant back, and enlisted the help of my neighbor from across the street.  We split up the chores.  She would come over and chop back the plant once or twice a week, on the days when I didn’t do it.  Still, the boundaries of the pumpkin patch grew.

My neighbor who lives behind us plants a big bed of tomatoes every year and sells them at market.  Our pumpkins were encroaching on her tomatoes, which were nowhere near where we originally planted our pumpkin patch.  I saw her out there one day, angrily yanking pumpkin vines away from her tomatoes.  Clearly, she wasn’t happy.

“How could this have happened?” I thought.  “I’m chopping it back all the time!”  But once the pumpkin plant gained a foothold, it was impossible to contain.  It wasn’t just wide, it had grown tall.  You couldn’t get through the four foot high tangle of vines.  Plus, there were pumpkins in those vines.  You took your own life trying to maneuver around in there without falling and seriously hurting yourself.

It was a jungle in the middle of suburbia.

We chopped and yanked and still the rain fell and the pumpkins grew.

One day, our neighbor to the side of our lot approached me with his head down.  “Your pumpkin patch has really grown,” he said.  He shuffled his feet.  I knew what was coming.  This man was one of the nicest, quietest neighbors we had.  He never complained about anything.  Finally, he gathered his courage and looked me straight in the eyes.

“It’s not that I don’t want you to have a garden,” he said.  “But the vines are growing up the side of my shed.  I draw the line when I have to yank plants off the door just to get into my shed.”

I felt humiliated.  How much anguish had we caused this man, to bring him to the point where he braved his shyness enough to complain?

I abandoned the effort to control the pumpkin from encroaching on my own yard and – together – my little band of pumpkin control (me, Hubby, and the lady across the street) focused all our efforts on keeping the pumpkin away from one neighbors tomatoes and the other neighbors shed.

At season end, when the patch finally died down and the vines parted enough for the pumpkins to show through, we had so many pumpkins it looked like a farm stand.  To appease the neighbors, we gave away free pumpkins.  Hubby took pumpkins to work with him, and handed them out to his co-workers.  We supplied our family with pumpkins, ate some, and decorated the front of our house with many, many of them.  We gave pumpkins to the lady across the street, for her to give to her family as well.

Definitely, we saved money that year, and we saved our neighbors money as well.  Doubtless Linus (of Charles Schulz fame) would’ve been in seventh heaven.  But what it cost us in neighborly love was another story altogether.

The moral of this story?  Grow tomatoes.