Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The unlikely friendship dynamic of Pumpkin and Yacon

When I planted these pumpkin in the yacon bed a few months back, I had intended for the yacon to shade the pumpkin leaves and afford it a bit of protection from the hot western summer sun. As you can observe, it didn't quite turn out that way.

You might need to take a closer look to even see that I wasn't just having you on about the yacon in the first place:

But building on the luck that underpins many of my most celebrated successes, it seems to be working out nicely all the same. These yacon are far less drought tolerant than I'd been led to believe - a day or two without watering and the wrong end of the plant will be trying to acquaint itself with the soil. The huge pumpkin leaves shade the plants and the soil from the heat of the afternoon, and I'd imagine are doing something to reduce the amount of leaf burn I'm seeing on the yacon after particularly hot, dry days.

Another unexpected revelation in this whole yacon growing adventure is that the cabbage white butterfly seems to know something about how nutritious the leaves of the plant are, too. The green caterpillars can be hard to spot directly, but luckily this one (pictured) left an enormous steaming pile of overcooked nuggets to help me pin point its location.

Never one to laze around in a bed, the pumpkin have started their summer offensive on the lawn, and as far as I'm concerned, they have the full run of the yard for the next four months. Of course, I don't really have a choice because the female flowers only seem to appear once the stems reach a certain distance over the lawn.

These are some variety of Kent pumpkin, and they seem to double in size between blinks. I'm sure given time I could probably grow one to the size of a Volkswagen - I'm tempted, but I think that will have to wait another season. I always forget to plant giant pumpkin somewhere that has fork-lift access.

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