The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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Opinion

August 29, 2012

BICKER: The joys of a garden’s harvest

CLINTON — The shapes and colors of autumn have fallen on my garden over the last few weeks.

Since this summer was so hot, everything in my garden has been ahead of schedule. My lovely green pumpkins started turning the end of July and kicked into high gear the beginning of the month.

Usually I don’t start picking pumpkins until September, but this year my back-breaking work started a month early.

Back in May, I planted about 17 mounds of pumpkins including jack-o’-lanterns and miniature pumpkins. Sprinkled among these mounds, I planted my own variety.

How did I manage to do this? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s really very simple. I had a volunteer miniature pumpkin plant pop up last year that mixed with my acorn squash. This plant did an outstanding job of producing close to 100 pumpkins. They were a little larger than the regular miniature pumpkin and seemed pretty resistant to bugs.

Since I liked my new pumpkins so much, I decided to save the seed and give them a whirl this year to see what I would get. In my opinion, these are the cutest pumpkins I’ve ever seen. One of my co-workers, Pat, came up with a great name for them — squashkins. It has a nice ring to it don’t you think? As you can see, I take great pride in my pumpkins just like I do my chickens. It’s proof that all of my hard work paid off.

While I was out in the pumpkin patch one night, I discovered an unusual sight hiding underneath a couple of the leaves. At first, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Hiding underneath the leaves was the goofiest pumpkin I’ve ever seen. If Linus had seen this pumpkin on Halloween night there would have been no need for him to stay up and wait for the infamous Great Pumpkin.

This large pumpkin, still as green as grass, had warts all over it. It looked like it was part of a science experiment gone wrong. Obviously, I will be keeping this one for myself and saving the seeds.

Unfortunately, after that first sighting I couldn’t find it again. I even started to wonder if I was more sleep deprived than I thought. However, my concerns were laid to rest after finding it about a week ago. I can hardly wait until it turns a nice shade of orange so I can display it proudly on my dining room table.

Since my pumpkins have been flying off the vine left and right, I enlisted my dad to help me out one day. One of these days he’s probably really going to start regretting the official Klucker Farms shirt he received on Father’s Day.

Since walking in and out of the patch can become a real pain, I asked if he would catch them for me as I threw them out. This worked great up until I almost took him out completely with a line drive directly toward his head. Apparently, I don’t know my own strength.

Since my dad didn’t have a hard hat to put on, I decided he shouldn’t be my official catcher anymore. In a way, I guess it worked out for the best because I can burn a few more calories walking in and out of my garden.

As my garden comes to a close, I couldn’t be happier with the results. I have canned 28 pints and 4 quarts of tomatoes so far, frozen countless bags of broccoli and stuffed green peppers, made numerous zucchini dishes and have about 100 pounds of potatoes stored in my basement. My only disappoint has been my watermelons,which are a little too ripe. My last job for this year will be harvesting acorn squash; I can hardly wait to see how many I have. There is nothing better than a big bowl of squash on a cool fall day.

All in all, I’d say my garden did really good this year. My stomach will be singing its praises all winter long.

Angie Bicker has been employed with the Clinton Herald since 2001. She can be reached at angiebicker@clintonherald.com.

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