Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jack and His Bean Stalk

A few gourd seeds sprouted at the base of my metal tree. Photo taken June 26, 2010.

The rain aided the gourds. Photo taken July 12, 2010.

Photo of "gourd tree" taken July 23, 2010

Jack has nothing on me this year, except mine are gourds – not beans.

Because we had to tear out all the plants in our North foundation bed last year, everything in this bed had to be started fresh.

My husband had given a tall metal tree to me a few years ago and it was also reinstalled. I’ve always planted a few annual vines and this year decided to include a perennial clematis. It’s sitting there establishing its root system and not doing much. To quickly cover the metal tree, I planted a few gourd plants.

With the large amount of rain, it’s the year for water loving gourds. They quickly climbed the ten foot tree and have reached for the sky. It’s a daily task to take reaching and winding stems and reposition over the tree. Otherwise, they reach for anything where they can climb and twine – like the shutters, bushes, and other flowers in the bed.

For those of you who have never planted gourds, they are bee magnets. Without the bees, they wouldn’t pollinate and I’d have no gourds. The blossoms are beautiful golden yellow flowers and this year they are plentiful.

I planted the small decorative gourds and the much larger “birdhouse” gourds. In the past, my gourd vines have been adequate but not rampant. Thinking (best laid plans) only a few seeds would germinate, I planted full packs. Thinking (best laid ideas) it would be a meager crop, I then planted morning glory seeds and moon flower starts. Morning glories, strangely, haven’t liked the wet soil but the moon flowers were at the top of the metal tree early in the season.

And then the whole gourd experience: I have gourds that are already as big as my hand and setting many more every day. It’s always fun to discover what a plant likes about what nature throws at us each year. To realize no matter what a gardener may lavish on a plant, it'll still have definite perfect conditions and seldom thrive as well as when its conditions are perfectly met by natural means.

I may not be Jack with his beanstalk but I’m certainly Diane with her gourd vines. The magic on my vines doesn’t come from a fairy tale, but, from Mother Nature’s record setting rainfall this year. And the only giant I’ll find at the top of my vine is a huge bird house gourd.

Side Note: A Bishop Hill gardener would like to (informally) get with other area gardeners in the afternoon now and again. Call 309-927-3356 if you are interested in discussing gardening and related topics. There's nothing like visiting with others to add to our friendship gardens.

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