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Homeschooling The Well Prepared Child: Update On Landscape Garden- The Mystery Plants

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Update On Landscape Garden- The Mystery Plants


      Edible landscape is a gardening technique we tried out this year. In the front yard, I planted 3 little mystery plants that had fallen out of the egg container and away from their labels. 
     At the time, they were just little balls of dirt that had not seeded yet. I was not sure what they were, and decided to name them my 'Mystery Plants.' My choices they could be were watermelon, cantaloupe, squash, and cucumbers. Either way,  aesthetically, I love the lovely green plants and yellowy/orange blossoms of all of these plants. Win, win right?
     I planted them in our little front yard, around our flowering Bradford Pear tree, thinking the flower bed would resemble having elephant ears in a way, circling our tree. I imagined after they grew and produced fruit, we would just go out and pick what we needed. A beautiful landscape with the added benefit of harvesting it's production. Ahhh.. daydreams... 

     The reality of it, I no longer have a front yard. The pretty little setting above, quickly turned into the monster below...

     So what is this 'Mystery Plant?' Well, if you are an experienced gardener, you might have already figured it out. Maybe, I should have figured it out as well. However, every time it started to fruit, there would be wrinkly little yellowish balls on it that would quickly die out. Hmmm... maybe cantalope? I was really hoping for cantalope or maybe zucchini. I posted pictures of it in gardening groups asking, 'What is it?' No one had an answer for me. I was told to just wait and see.

      In the mean time, my 3 little plants started to take over the front yard. And while they were lovely, I was not expecting to have to pick up they 10ft vines so my son could mow around them either.

So what is this mystery plant? 

Pumpkins... Pumpkins? Are you serious? 

     Not that pumpkins are bad, just was not expecting these plants to be pumpkins. Yes, I seeded out pumpkins, but I thought they were part of the regular garden that died out after the freak end of May freeze. I am a little disappointed. We do not eat any pumpkin products except for the seeds. We LOVE pumpkin seeds, but I was wanting something I could feed my family with a little more. We eat pumpkin pie only once a year at Thanksgiving and we are not big 'pumpkin flavored' fans. 
     At first, only 6 pumpkins grew from the 3 plants. I guess that was okay. Then we got cooler weather and lots of rain. Now we have nearly 20 pumpkins growing. We have decided to keep a few and try selling the rest. 

     We harvested the first 6 this week. It took a hack saw to get them off the vine. We were told to leave them on but one started to rot. Never smelled something so foul in my life! We cut it in half to see if the seeds were salvageable. HUGE mistake! PEE YEW!

     So what will we do with the pumpkins we harvested? Storage is going to be an issue. I have no pantry, cellar, or any cool dark, dry place to store them. Right now they are on the living room floor. 
     My daughter could not wait for seeds and decided to cut one open so she could roast pumpkin seeds for a snack. Our pig also got a snack. He was very grateful. My neighbors were over while she was carving the pumpkin. While we sat on the porch watching her, my husband and our company talked about how much they love pumpkin pie. How wonderful it must taste fresh! Really? Okay, Google how to make homemade pumpkin puree and pie filling. Maybe I will be able to feed my family from this unexpected bountiful harvest after all! Maybe I will even try my hand at making pumpkin bread.... Maybe... 

So let's make a list of all I can do with my 'Mystery Edible Garden.'
  1. Pumpkin seeds to eat
  2. Pumpkin seeds to put back to grow for next year
  3. Feed the animals (natural dewormer in pigs)
  4. Less gas used mowing front yard
  5. Make pumpkin puree for baking pies and bread
  6. Sell extras for a little profit
  7. Halloween Jack O'Lanterns that will save me $10 this fall
Not bad! (Even with it taking over our yard!)