The Chinese New Year is coming up in less than a month. It will be the year of the dog.
I beg to differ. At least at Crazy Corner Farm, it will be the year of the cucurbit.
Extremely high temperatures combined with an unusual amount of rain seem to have encouraged growth of the pumpkins, zucchinis, melons, and cucumbers this year. I have never, in over 30 years of gardening on three continents, seen cucurbits grow like this.
I accept responsibility for the zucchini. I know I always plant too many. But the others aren’t my fault.
Melons are usually incredibly difficult to grow here. They barely grow, and give very few, tiny fruits. I’ve tried them in the greenhouse, and they seem to do even worse there than in the garden. Too cool and dry, I suspect. Not this year! They have outgrown their bed and are invading the beans on either side of them. There are dozens of fruit set, and those fruits (still quite immature) are already larger than most of the mature fruits I’ve gotten in previous years.
The pumpkins have simply devoured half the garden. They’ve invaded the corn, overtopping it in some places. I’ve had to push them back into the garden when they’ve escaped, growing over five metres from where I planted them. I planted just a few plants each of pickling cucumbers and table cucumbers, and spaced the two varieties well apart from one another. I am now hacking them back to keep them separate and avoid them spreading over the shade house. My plan with the pickling cucumbers was to have just a handful for making fresh pickles (because I only ‘make pickles’ every two years to avoid becoming the crazy pickle lady), but I’m harvesting as many pickling cucumbers as I do on most pickle years.
I have lost all paths in half the garden to cucurbits, and many of the paths in the more clear half are overgrown, too. It is truly out of control. I have never seen this sort of cucurbit exuberance before.
So, I declare 2018 Year of the Cucurbit. Care for a pickle, anyone?