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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Raising Pumpkins

Today I persuaded Steve to take me to Wilco to get a bale of straw so that I could get the pumpkins up off the ground, so off to the farm store we went.  Going into one of these places is kind of fun for me, because I am such a wannabe, and also because my first job was in a hardware store that had been started during the Depression as an orchardists' cooperative and I've never lost my love of hardware.  You go in there and you have no earthly clue what more than half the stuff they have is for- but real farmers and ranchers do.

We wandered over to the food preserving section and picked up some more pints and quart jars- they had a really great price on them.  I don't mess around and buy only wide mouth jars- it's easier to fill them and I like having only one size lid to buy.   We then took them to checkout and asked for the straw bale there, which was $5.99.  I don't think that if I had horses to bed that I'd be very happy about paying six bucks a bale, but since it was just for pumpkins and I knew I'd have a lot left over, I was okay with parting with six dollars.  Anyway, we just needed to go over to the loading area and give the guy the loading copy of our receipt and we'd get our pound of flesh bale of straw.

Now- I have to admit feeling like an asshole pulling into their loading area for a bale of straw in a BMW wagon, but that is the only vehicle Steve and I own. We made the decision some years ago to be a one car family, so we have a nice one, but today was one of those days where I would have given my left one if I'd had a truck.  Come to think of it, I don't have a left one either, but you know what I mean.  Even though we'd spread a tarp in the back, poor Steve had to spend some time with the shop vac and the car while I jaunted off to the backyard in my overalls and straw hat, with a bale of straw in the wheelbarrow.  He's so good to me.

I got the straw set under all the pumpkins (there were fifteen of them!) and then checked out the rest of the cucurbits and took care of the Charentais and Liberty melons that needed it.  The Hapless Honeydews are still without child, and I'm beginning to think it might be too late for them.  It's interesting to see what a huge difference covering the melon with bubble wrap made, not to mention starting them in mid-February.  The two melons that got covered now have fruits, which I expect will ripen in the August heat, at least I hope they will, but I'm not at all sure there's time enough for the honeydews to set fruit and ripen in time before the weather gets too cold.  An interesting lesson learned, to be sure.

So that is how you raise pumpkins.

And Charentais melon.

And Liberty melon.

On a side note, I'm not sure if any of the Triamble seeds that Novella at Ghost Town Farm was kind enough to send me came up or not.  All nine hills that I planted have at least one squash in them, but I have nothing yet that looks remotely tri-lobed, so I don't know what is going on.  It's too bad too, because I was looking forward to trying the squash.  They're at least really pretty! Supposed to be great flesh and really good keepers.   Maybe I'll just order some seed next year from The Seed Savers Exchange.  Or maybe one of the baby pumpkins I have will morph into a tri-lobed Triamble, I don't know.  I'll keep you posted, though.


Miriam said...

Oh, I admire your melons! I tried growing some this year, but it ended in disaster very quickly. I'll try again next year...

Straw IS expensive, isn't it? We actually pay $10-$12 a bale here, which strikes me as ridiculous.

We have two farm stores here: one with slightly cheaper prices but notoriously grumpy, snide, impatient clerks (all of them!) and one with slightly higher prices, but unfailingly helpful and pleasant clerks. We usually go to the pleasant store, but every once in a while we think about our pocketbooks and go to the grumpy store, which usually ends in our swearing to never, never go there again.

Danny said...

Hi Paula,

Looks like you and Fiona share a love of hardware stores. When we used to go abroad on vacation we would tour hardware stores the way Normal People tour museums and galleries. Once, in Lisbon (Portugal) we found a store that dealt in only knobs for front doors, back doors, storm doors, cupboards, drawers. Nothing else. Just knobs. We were amazed that it could actually be a viable business.
Actually, hardware stores and attraction for them is a great topic. You've got me thinking.

Funny you guys paying so much money for a bale of straw when we live in the middle of the coutryside surrounded by the stuff.

And I felt your blushes turning up in a BMW to collect your bale :-)
Been there, felt that too!

Best wishes to you both.

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

I come to sing the praises of trucks.

We carted all kinds of things around in our city-slicker Saab before we owned trucks. Now we own two, a 1970 Land Rover and a much more practical pick-up truck. If you're going to engage in activities that involve schlepping, a pick-up truck in invaluable. And a reasonable used one can be had for just a few thousand dollars.

I understand wanting to be a one-vehicle family (the only reason we have three is that we lend one to my parents for the summer), but your BMW will last longer if you do some of the driving, and all the dirty jobs, with the truck. And the truck will last longer if you do most of the driving in the BMW. So think of it as owning your two vehicles at the same time, rather than one after the other. It comes to the same thing (except for the insurance bill, of course).

Get a truck.

Paula said...

Miriam- maybe if the grumpy folks were earning as much as the nice folks, they'd be nice too! That extra money has to be going somewhere.

Danny- going to foreign hardware stores sounds like a lot of fun, actually. I should think about doing that the next time I'm abroad. Usually I hit the cookware stores.

Tamar- God! I would so love to have a truck, and you have a good argument. However, my cheapskate husband (he once described himself as having come from a long line of cheapskates) won't go for it because his argument is that in the long run, it would be cheaper to just rent a truck when we need one, and he's got a point. Over the weekend, we bought a whole bunch of long and heavy lumber, and rented their truck for twenty bucks to bring it home, so that worked out. I think that when I get my chickens and want to stock up on straw (or whatever bedding it is you're supposed to use) I might rent the truck from Home Depot, go up to Wilco to get the stuff and bring it home, and then take the truck back to HD. In any case, it'll be a cold day in hell before I put another bale of straw in the car. And if we win the lottery, I'm buying a truck. But I think a truck in my life is going to have that hell-freezes-over kind of chance, unfortunately...

Toni aka irishlas said...

It's all looking good! My pumpkins have been attacked by squash beetles, and, they are winning :-(

We pay $5 for a bale of straw - and I thought that was high!

And - although we do have a small pick up, I tend to use my little Rav4 for everything. Or maybe it's because I wind up doing most things and I don't drive the truck.