Thursday, June 24, 2010

cucurbits gone crazy

I had a little trouble deciding the title of this post.
Sea of Squash came to mind. Or Why I Will Never be Without Rabbits Again.
But then my 7 year old said, on his way in from the back yard where he had been picking snap peas (47 snap peas to be exact - not that he was counting...), "Mom, the cucurbits are going crazy out there!" and I decided that definitely described exactly the situation in our garden. Our cucurbits (that would be our squash and our cucumbers) are definitely growing like nothing I've ever seen in our particular little raised bed gardens!!

This is just some of our squash, with a few cucumber plants mixed in. We never expected them to grow like this - if we had, we'd have planted them with a little more space between! The pattypan (far right) were put in as small seedlings, but the rest were grown from seed sown directly outdoors (we tried starting seeds indoors last year, and our plants all died when we transferred them outdoors - so we didn't try again this year).

I took this photo to try to show how large the leaves are growing - we've taken to calling the plants "prehistoric squash" on account of the leaves reminding us of dinosaur footprints (and on account of it looking like a jungle out there!).

Best of all, here come the baby pattypan squash - once the flowers open and are pollinated by all the bees that are flying around out there, the baby squash will start growing bigger - and soon I'll be having pattypan squash casserole... yum!!

So, why all the excitement over these giant-sized cucurbit plants?? Well, last year, we grew pattypan squash and we had an okay yield, but the plants grew to maybe half the size they are out there now. And our zucchini plants were very small last year, only yielding a handful of baby zucchini before withering away to nothing. Our cucumbers? Oh goodness - they failed miserably.

Over the weekend we were talking about what we'd done differently this year, and the answer is clear - rabbit poop. We've never purchased fertilizers or "inputs" for our gardens, and in the past we've instead used homemade compost (from lawn and garden scraps thrown together to rot in an outdoor composter) and worm compost. These are all good things - but this year we added lots of composted rabbit manure, as well as some non-composted manure (which will continue to break down and feed the garden throughout the summer) to the raised beds. And now, after reading and reading over the last few years about how animals are magical in what they can do for a garden (manure is your friend!!), I've seen the difference with my own eyes in terms of the size and color and health of our plants this year compared to last, and I'm amazed. Indeed, I will never be without rabbits again!!


Life Looms Large said...

That's great that your garden is thriving this year!! I wonder if the weather is a factor too. I know that even our trees grew more than usual with the sunny, wet spring.

But any reason to keep rabbits is a good reason!!

We had squash for dinner last night. Yum!


Maureen said...

It all looks great. I'm in southern MA and at the risk of jinxing myself, the cukes are looking good here too.

P.S. Your blog caught my attention because of your pug. My daughter just brought one home! What a doll!

Colleen said...

Hi Sue -
True, the weather has been a gardener's friend this year too. Maybe I'll chalk my good luck up to both bunnies and Mother Nature!! :)
Squash - yum! I hear rumor we may have summer squash in this week's CSA share - I can't wait!
:) Colleen

Hi Maureen -
Welcome! We love our Mo-Pug - her breeder described pugs as the "clowns of the dog world" - and Mo has certainly earned that title! She keeps us laughing!!
I'm looking forward to reading about your garden on your blog - already, I love all your flower and garden photos!
:) Colleen