What have I done?!?

What have I done? My poor darling lies splayed on the soil, mortally wounded. Clinging on to the last vestiges of life as the light fades, it drifts off to the great compost heap in the sky. No! This wasn’t meant to happen!

Let me rewind a few weeks and explain.

One of the first things I did on getting my allotment was invest heavily in squash and pumpkin seeds. Almost immediately afterwards I challenged my mate and fellow allotmenteer Richard to a pumpkin growing contest: a few seeds of Hundredweight each, kudos to the man with the biggest cucurbit on Halloween.

Now as you will know, despite their enormous size, garish colour and thick skin, pumpkins are actually sensitive little souls, and every gardening book I’ve ever read, along with most websites, stress that they shouldn’t venture outside if there is even the slightest chance of a cloud, let alone cold weather. In fact, look at them a bit funny or forget to compliment them on their foliage and their leaves will start to curl.

But what about the competition? If I’m going to get the jump on Richard then I need to get cracking. So I planted the seeds about a month ago. Germination in the dining room was rapid, and they sat on the bathroom windowsill getting bigger and bigger.  They started to look pretty tough, and what with the recent sunny weather, well, I mean, how cold is cold, you know? Surely they could survive a little brief chill? They’re big, after all, well established.

All those gardening books are probably just being over-cautious. I’ve grown enough veggies to know you can play fast and loose with planting dates without any great difficulty. So into the allotment went a couple of the pumpkins, and onto the patio back home went a couple more.

Hubris (hyoo-bryss): overbearing pride or presumption of arrogance. Belief that one knows best or better than others.

You can see what happened next. Day two, and the pumpkins were not looking happy. A bit droopy. Day four and things were looking pretty grim. I might as well have been sloshing Agent Orange on them for all the good the watering was doing. The photo above was taken on day seven.  That little plant marker is starting to look more like a tombstone.

Curiously, the pumpkins that were put out on the patio are doing just fine. Not sure why this is; they’ve had the same weather as the allotment, they’re not particularly sheltered, nor is the allotment especially exposed. I have, however, taken the precaution of moving them into the greenhouse for a few weeks more.

So I have learned my lesson. A myriad gardening books and every (other) website on the subject are right, while I – who’d have thought it – am wrong.

Pumkpins don’t like being planted out too early. Round one goes to Mother Nature.

On the ipod while grieving: Coldplay / Fix You.

I tried my best. I didn’t succeeed.

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