Pumpkin Gender

Dear Liza,

I learned something at the garden yesterday!

I was bemoaning the fact that so many of my beautiful pumpkin blossoms weren’t turning into pumpkins, and my garden-mates Morgan and Abby set me straight. It turns out, every squash plant (pumpkins, zucchinis, acorn squash, and such) will produce BOTH male and female flowers.

The male flowers will never mature into squash. Their only job is to pollinize, that is, fertilize, the female flowers. Once the bees are done with them, they just shrivel up. They are useful, however, for fancy ‘stuffed squash blossom’ dishes, where you put rice and meat into the flower and then tie it up and bake it. Yum!

These are spent male flowers

The female flowers, once their blossoms are pollinated, will fatten up and become a squash. Ain’t life interesting?

Yellow male flower on the bottom, green female blossom-turned-pumpkin above….

I didn’t know any of this! I love that I am still learning things about gardening.


Grandma Judy

Back Home

Dear Liza,

I was in Lake Oswego for a week, and I got home yesterday. After a long wonderful afternoon of hanging out with Grandpa Nelson and snuggling with Mouse the cat, I had to go see what was happening in my plot in the Blair Community Garden.

My neighbor and garden-mate Tonya, whose tomato bushes are taller than me, had said she would water my plot. But you never know.

I will never doubt Tonya again! My garden looks like it is on steroids!

The zucchini plant has spread over the stepping stones, is nudging the lavender and crowding the new ladder I set up for the pumpkin. The whole place looks like it is preparing to run amok.

The tomatoes are setting!!

And there are enough zucchinis to feed us for a week.

What a wonderful homecoming. Now I just have to find a way to support that pumpkin before it snaps.

And, of course, make some cookies for Tonya.


Grandma Judy

Getting to Know Our Plot

Dear Liza,

Well, we got our garden plot in the Blair Community Garden! I mean, we knew that we had one, but today we got the actual number and the combination to the garden’s lock. So of course, Grandpa Nelson and I walked the two blocks over to have a look at our new dirt.

The part covered by the burlap… is all ours!

It is a ten by ten foot (exactly the size of your daddy’s room when he was growing up) raised bed. It has a gentle southward slope, and is bordered by a cyclone fence (good for tying tall sunflowers to) on one side and someone else’s plot of land on another. I am sure this other gardener and I will get to know each other as the season progresses.

Me and my dirt!

And I am looking forward to meeting my other fellow gardeners, as well. The Community Garden Program in Portland is 46 years old, and is not just “here’s your dirt, come plant stuff” situation. It is practiced as a stewardship program, a way of helping overcome societal prejudices and inequalities, of bringing people together by gardening, providing for people and caring for the land.

Our plot, off to the far left, in the midst of everyone else’s.

So, tomorrow I need to go to the used clothes store and get some coveralls so I can start digging! I am excited, happy, and looking forward to my summer adventure!


Grandma Judy