This summer in Austin wasn’t so bad, compared to last summer’s endless days above 100 degrees. Still, it was warm enough that by the time I pulled my dead, dry tomato plants from the ground and tossed them into the compost pile, I was ready for a gardening solution that wouldn’t require me to spend too much time weeding or tending until October or so, when the weather cools down.
You may remember that I am an apartment-dweller and have a plot in an Austin community garden, so I have the advantage of being able to spy on my neighbors and steal their techniques. My boyfriend-and-gardening-partner and I remembered that last year, a neighbor planted pumpkins in her plot and they completely took over. The big, beautiful orange pumpkins grew out of long, green vines that shielded the soil from the sun, suffocated weeds, and seemed to need very little in the way of “tending,” other than the occasional watering. This seemed like exactly the solution we were looking for, but I’m not super excited about growing Halloween pumpkins. Keeping the same technique, we planted seeds for Lakota, butternut, acorn, and sugar pumpkin squash.
The garden’s going wild. It’s so awesome.
The herb bed is still intact, though some of the herbs are suffering in the heat. The peppers (jalapeno, sahuaro, tiny bells) are going strong and being pickled as fast as I can pick them and get them sliced. The vast majority of space in the garden, however, has been given over to gorgeous, trailing, vining, delicious-looking winter squash.
A couple of the seeds never sprouted, or their plant-lings aren’t doing so well, so over the next few weeks I’ll start planting broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and spinach in the spaces between. Last year, the fall garden was pretty orderly– everything was in beds in nice rows. This year, all the beds have been taken down and we’re just going to let things ramble and see how it goes. I’m looking forward to a winter full of orange, starchy, golden, roasted squash.
P.S. I had a panic moment when I wondered, “How am I ever going to make use of all of this mutant squash [note: link is hilarious, but a lot profane]?” But luckily, Two Peas and Their Pod recently posted a round-up of 50 Pumpkin Recipes! I bet a lot of these could be adapted for any sort of winter squash, don’t you think?