Enormous!

One of the great things about having an allotment is that it gives me extra room to grow things that take up loads of space. Sqaush are a prime example of this: they can spread out to cover 4-5m sq of soil if you’re not careful, and that’s just not practical in most city gardens.

So top of my list on getting the allotment were squash plants. I stuck in some seeds at the start of the summer, and then later on saw some unknown squash plants at the kids’ school summer fair.

Unable to resist, I spent the last of the ice cream money on a couple of plants. Ignoring the plaintive wailing I promised the boys untold delights as the mysterious plant bore its fruit.

This is how the adventure began. An adventure that led to my growing the biggest squash you have ever seen. Me! On my humble allotment!

I planted the innocent-looking thing, unaware of the joy it would bring, and watered it. Over the next few weeks I fed it regularly, acknowledging that hoary old adage that you can never overfeed a squash. It started to grow. Vigorously.

After a month or two some of the flowers started forming fruits. I started to get excited. Going down to the plot at weekends, I was able to track the progress. Imagine my surprise when, in just a week or two, the fruits grew to the size of small pumpkins! What variety had I bought? How big would they get?

They kept on growing. Within a month of appearing, the squash were now the size of beachballs. Neighbouring plot holders were starting to comment admiringly. I kept on feeding. They kept growing.

Late August and things were getting ridiculous. By now I had given up feeding the plants, but they carried on undeterred. I came back from a couple of weeks’ holiday to find awe-struck allotmenteers pointing at my plot. The squash were now over 1m tall and wide and starting to cast a shade on next door’s plot. Stories abounded of how the geriatric vegetable thief in the corner plot had put his back out trying to steal one. People began to ask my advice on all sorts of growing matters. The local paper left me messages about a possible feature.

And still they grew! Now they were almost head high. I was beginning to wonder how long it would take to eat them, and also how I might be able to fit them into a saucepan. Or the kitchen, for that matter.

Eventually I decided enough was enough. Borrowing an axe from a friend I spent an hour hacking through the stalks to stop the growing once and for all. I won’t bore you with the details of how I moved them off the plot, but before cooking them I placed them on the clean white sheet you see above to capture their glory on film.

But then it occured to me. Yes, they look beautiful in the photo above, but without any sense of perspective you can’t really appreciate their size. However, as luck would have it, just before I moved them a few friends were passing my plot. Members of the Beckenham Allotment Historical Re-enactment Society, they were on their way to a re-enactment of the Siege of Carthage.

I asked them to pose for a photo next to the smallest of the squashes. They kindly obliged. You can see the results in the pic below, which gives some idea of the actual size of the squashes:

Two gentlemen in fancy dress posing alongside quite a large squash

On the ipod while stirring a bathtub of squash soup: Kate Nash / Pumpkin Song. Nothing to do with pumpkins as far as I can tell from the lyrics, but a nice song.

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