Monday, September 23, 2013

Pumpkin Power

Len refashioned the compost bin this summer.  Now, in addition to an earlier remodel that made it possible to dump produce directly from the deck, the bin has two sections with removable sides.  Isn't it lovely?

Our garden did not do well this year.  It could be due to too much rain or not enough tending (I'm a big-time gardening slacker); we may never know.

Our most successful crops are our "volunteers"--pumpkins and butternut squash that grew from the compost!

My science program this year is inspired by Barb McCoy's nature study blog.  It's filled with an overwhelming number of lessons and outdoor challenges based on Anna Botsford Comstock's classic Handbook of Nature Study.  (free download here)  The book has a lesson on pumpkins, so we started our fall session in our own backyard.

The remaining comments will be from Rebecca (age 8).

The tendrils are searching for something to grab onto so they can help the plant climb.
Here is a tendril that's long and thin, and it's grabbing on to the fence.  It looks like it would feel squishy, but it actually feels like thin, metal wire.  In the background is a ripe butternut squash that we picked.  It had grown into the compost bin! 

This is a female flower, and the big bulb below the closed bud will turn into a pumpkin. 
The one above is also a female flower, but it is open.  Below is the same flower at a different angle where you can see the stigmas, which receive the pollen.

Here are two pictures of male flowers which make the pollen and do not produce any pumpkins.
The stems look fuzzy but are actually kind of spiky.  They're usually thick and strong enough to let the pumpkins hang without touching the ground.
The leaves are big and usually have five lobes.
Here are two unripe pumpkins.  They start out green but then turn orange.
This pumpkin is pretty big and it's almost ripe.  It's growing in between the fence of the garden and the fence of the compost.