GROWING MAMMOTH PUMPKINS CAN BE HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH
I FELL OFF PIG MOUNTAIN LAST NIGHT
Flying through the air I wondered what I would break. At my age I’m supposed to be brittle. My hands flew up as I went down heading for the grassy plain. And I remember wondering if my wrist would snap trying to break my fall. But it was a soft landing— head up, hands flat for impact, left elbow collapses, body rolls, and my bionic side slaps down.
There were no snaps, crackles or pops. In fact no pain, bloody scrapes or even bruises. I was intact but my watering can was empty. And the pig on the mountain didn’t assist. He just stood there atop his domain fat and happy.
I built Pig Mountain. Rather the two guys who my neighbor hired to take down an old cement-brick wall did. My neighbor needed a place to dump his unwanted topsoil. I wanted it and I paid the guys to move the mound to my property and also seed my old lawn.
The topsoil stood in the yard a couple of years before I had the time to use it. But when I began to shovel I soon discovered hidden under the mound were all the cement blocks and sewer connections that were supposed to go to the dump. Apparently they decided my backyard was a cheaper solution. So the mound became Weed Mountain until this year when I decided to plant pumpkins. But not your ordinary jack-o-lantern orbs — mammoth pumpkins with the capacity to grow into 1000-pound squash.
I began in the spring cutting down the old stalks of rampant ragweed and I sprayed all the emerging growth with weed killer. Now I had “Bald Mountain.” And while all this was going on I was trying to propagate the giant pumpkin seeds in the kitchen.
Within a few days seedlings were popping up and within a week or so they began to leaf. They were small, just infants in my eyes and how I babied them waiting for warmer days and nights outside to acclimate and finally transplant them into their future home.
I decided the pumpkins would need a watchdog to protect them from visiting deer, rabbits and other wildlife that might have an appetite for squash leaves. All I had was Prancer my 86-pound Service Dog who absolutely refused to do guard duty without me. And I wasn’t about to move my bed to Pumpkin Peak.
And that’s where the pig comes in — a 40 to 50 pound pot-bellied pig made in the USA as a garden ornament. I have one. I bought it two decades ago from I-don’t-remember-who somewhere in Connecticut. It’s been in the shed for the past two years while I rehabbed my new knees. The new problem was Pig (aptly named) was too heavy for me to carry. But Providence intervened and set off my C02 alarm which brought volunteer firefighters from the Nichols Fire Department. After checking out my house for gas they were happy to tote Pig up the six-foot tall mound and place him properly as a guard- pig watching over his pumpkins.
I fell off Pig Mountain after watering the vines just before I was turning in for the night. I knew I was physically exhausted having racked up over 10,000 steps that day on my wristlet. But I didn’t listen to my body. I thought just one more task. When I slipped coming down the steep incline my legs were too tired to do what my brain was telling them and I went into a nosedive. I was so lucky that I was able to just get up and walk away.
And I learned that a pig on the mountain and pumpkins on the vine are only worth it if you don’t break your neck. I’m chopping steps going up the side of Pig Mountain tomorrow.
August 19, 2019