Monthly Archives: October 2011

Jinxing the Nor’easter

I figure the more I plan for tomorrow’s Nor’easter, the more likely it’ll fizzle and make my efforts seem ridiculous and wasteful. So I’m planning well:

  1. Unhooking the garden hose and shutting off the outdoor pipe
  2. Breaking up the solid block of ice melt for convenient sidewalk use
  3. Cursing
  4. Getting shovels out of the shed
  5. Charging batteries and finding flashlights (with leaves on the trees, even a few inches could bring serious limb-breakage/outages)
  6. Setting up the picnic table as a generator cover in the yard
  7. Familiarizing myself with our cheap-o generator, which I’ve never used, and which has just enough power to run our wood-pellet stove and a coffee maker

You might say that daring the storm to fizzle will nullify the intended jinx-effect. That by trying to jinx the storm, it’s my jinxing efforts that the storm will mock, perhaps becoming even¬†more¬†powerful than if I hadn’t egged it on with all this reverse-psychology prep work. But this is a storm we’re talking about, not some genius, and I’m sure that I can outsmart it by looking busy.

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Pumpkin Death

A long-distance friend of mine asked what happened to my giant pumpkin this year. Tragic one-word answer: groundhog.

I had a fast-growing pumpkin on the vine, somewhat lopsided but coming along nicely, when we took a week’s vacation down to Hogwarts. Upon returning, I discovered that a groundhog had scraped or gnawed away nearly half of the pumpkin’s surface. He didn’t breach the shell, and the white, fanlike scars were almost beautiful in their way, but it didn’t take long for the wounds to rot. I tried to keep it dry with a portable fan, but it was clear the pumpkin wouldn’t survive and I was forced to compost it.

The tough thing about growing giant pumpkins in a small backyard is that you need at least a few hundred square feet of garden per plant, and then the plant can only have one final fruit, to ensure that all of the vine’s energy is going into the chosen pumpkin. If anything happens to the one main vine, you’re in trouble. If anything happens to that one pumpkin, you’re done. The serious pumpkin growers, those who are breaking records and getting closer to the first-ever one-ton fruit, generally have enough land to grow numerous plants. They have backups in case of disaster. With me, it’s all or nothing.

Which naturally adds to the excitement. But next year, I may forgo the one big fruit and grow for numbers. With a high-pedigree seed, the vine takes off and you can grow a lot of terrific 50-pounders no problem. I’ll need a better plan for the groundhogs, but I’ll probably emerge with a decent number of carvable pumpkins, and I’ve always liked the sight of a proper patch with lots of orange highlights.

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