Saturday, August 2, 2014

Dave's Squash


"Where can I put this?" Dave asked in the spring, holding up a tiny squash plant.

I had a thought about that, but I refrained from expressing it.

Every spring things start to pop out of the ground, but they seem awfully far apart, and I spend much of the month of May buying new plants and cramming them in the bare spots. Once things warm up, and I have my back turned, it transpires that there never were any actual bare spots. This happens every year, and every year I don't believe it.

But the upshot is that I leave Dave with very little territory in which to plunk his vegetables. He has his own masonry beds he constructed himself for the purpose, but squashes tend toward rambunction, and he'd rather drop them somewhere else in the garden.

He was standing dangerously close to my new blueberry plants. It was, in fact, the only bare area left in the whole yard. "How about here?" he wheedled.

I can only make squeaky noises when my face tightens up like that, and besides, he's a great cook. I nod miserably. "But just as soon as that sucker gets anywhere near my blueberries, I'm chopping it off," I say. Later in the day, I notice that he has planted it a few yards away from the blueberries. In my compost pile, actually.

Cue the shark music.

A squash in my compost pile! I smiled. But I also turned my back on it for a few hours. Later that afternoon, my compost pile was no longer visible. The next day, I wasn't certain where it had been. By evening, I'd lost track of my blueberries, too.

I try to grow all sorts of things in this garden. It's a library of despair. Some of the plants have all the promise of bright little sonnets, everything turning on the last couplet, when the plant dies like the mortal swan it always was. Some of them are majestic Russian novels, with aristocratic lines, and they muscle along for seemingly ever, taking over a corner where the peasants are revolting and nothing else looks all that good either, and on and on they go, battle after battle, but everyone still dies in the end. Some of them look interesting at first and then go all James Joyce, sprawling unpredictably, never going where you expect them to, and by the time they peter out, no one cares about them anyway. Some of them pull a Kafka and make you nervous for a while before simply turning into a mound of insects.

Dave's squash is a Dr. Seuss book.

Would you like a little nosh?
Would you like some fucking squash?
Would you like it in a pie?
Would you like it in your eye?
Would you like it with a mouse?
Would you like it in your house?
Here's a crapload. Want some more?
Want some on the second floor?

I roll my wheelbarrow full of withered nursery stock past Dave as he stands over his squash plant, hopping back every few minutes. "This is how you grow a plant," he says, returning to the kitchen to put the finishing touches on his new cookbook, Food Your Labrador Retriever Will Like.

"Nothing to it," he adds, dashing off another check to the Rabbit Fertility Initiative.


58 comments:

  1. Well, if it's any comfort, the Official Rules of Gardening Competition probably have a clause condemning the unfair advantage allotted to plants grown on a compost pile.

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  2. I guess I need to grow squash. Nothing else is a success in my garden and squash would cover the carcasses of what didn't make it.
    Love the Dr. Seuss!

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    1. I have to admit, the section with the squash in it (fast approaching 1/4 of the garden) looks pretty nice.

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  3. The best squash I had one year came up as a volunteer in the mulch pile. I am trying a few bush varieties this year. Made cake with some summer squash with a carrot cake recipe.

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    1. They make bush varieties? At first I thought the offender in this case is an acorn squash. They looked like those toilet tank floats. Now they're starting to look like pumpkins. Or dirigibles.

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  4. I had a squash plant go walkabout one year and carry on covert relations with one of its cousins, producing the most bitter tasting offspring imaginable. I get mine at the Farmers' Market now.

    A toad has taken up residence in my nice finished product compost pile. He sits on top now and then, king of all he surveys. This means that I don't get to use it because I don't have the heart to turf him out. What's a bit of dirt compared to a guy who eats bad bugs?

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    1. I wouldn't shovel around a reigning toad. All Amphibia get a free pass and a serenade in my garden.

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  5. My mom has a chocolate zucchini cake recipe! Very moist.

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    1. I'm sure that helps the zucchini, but it seems like a mean thing to do to chocolate.

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    2. Not at all, it's quite delicious.

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  6. Well done on the Dr. Seuss. And well done, Dave. Hope some of those squash are winter varieties that do not have to be eaten in their entirety by September 1. Or that you have lots of neighbours/friends/strangers you can give the summer varieties to!

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    1. Oh right. As if the neighbors make themselves visible during squash season.

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    2. They don't have to be visible: just leave a bag on their doorstep in the middle of the night. If it's a neighbor that you don't like, leave two.

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  7. In my crime-free neighborhood, the only reason for locking up the car is to avoid returning to a bag of squash in the passenger seat.

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    1. My sister in Maine, who didn't even have a key to her house and left her car key in the ignition, said she locked up the car only in July, during zucchini season.

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    2. I well remember my ONE zucchini bush which was so prolific I supplied in laws and work friends for weeks.

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    3. Zucchini BUSH? It's upright and tidy? Naw.

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  8. Some plants have yearnings for world domination, others aim to become triffids. And the expensive ones are suicidal.
    Love Dr Seuss and suspect that you and Dave are going to have to adopt a ritual from my childhood - no-one (and that includes the postman and the meter reader) leaves the house without an armload of squash.

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    1. Speaking of childhood--I remember my first exposure to Dr. Seuss and I came home from first grade all juiced up about him, and Dad harrumphed and refused to buy me a book. I think we were expected to shoot straight to Dickens or something.

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  9. Passion fruit vines can do that, too...

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    1. And trumpet vines. Which are also noisy.

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  10. The "library of despair" paragraph has just made my month, and it's only the second, so well done.

    We had a squash last year, clearly an ancestor of Dave's, that overtook our entire front sidewalk and choked three trick-or-treaters, come October, right out of their Mutant Ninja Turtle costumes.

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    1. Well at least it made itself plumb useful.

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  11. Favorite post in a long long time. The Kafka metaphor is the BEST. I have a No Cucurbit Zone in my yard. Too spready. Too cheap to buy. Why grow it when it's cheap to buy? Apologies to Dave. Mwah Dave.

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    1. That's why we don't plant potatoes, but jeez, they don't go nuclear on you, either. (I'm also told this is why we don't can tomatoes, and just use both of the ones that turn red before frost for their highest and best use: BLTs.)

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  12. I meant to say how much I enjoyed the literary analogies, particularly the James Joyce one. As someone who read Ulysses of her own volition, this hit all my funny bones. Oh the places you'll go, Dave's squash! (We need a talk like Seuss day, after all there is a talk like a pirate day.)

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    1. We could do that for hours. Although I believe vulgarity would be required.

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    2. I've heard about Ulysses before, maybe I should read it. Does it have pictures and short chapters?

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    3. Couldn't tell you. I never macheted my way through it.

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  13. Dave's squash should meet Mel's cucumber. Every year it seems one plant decides to take over the entire garden in mutant mode. Last year it was the decorative gourd volunteer, this year it's the cucumber. It is forever a mystery. Hope you can eat those squash though! :)

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    1. All the same family, right? They should only be grown by seven-year-olds who need a boost of self-esteem.

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  14. Hope you've closed your back door during the night... loved that shark music part!

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    1. It is hot, and we did have the windows open last night--but not enough to let out the cat, of course, and we DID score an indoor bat.

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  15. I can see you now, standing on a street corner with a bag. "Psst! Over here. Wanna squash? Home-grown!"

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    1. I just looked out the window again, and it's heading to the street corner on its own.

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  16. Do we plant the squash so we'll feel like successful gardeners? I have a counter full of the things. My husband is going to donate them to the food bank on Monday.

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    1. The food bank wants you to know they're going to be closed on Monday.

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  17. Have you tried planting YOUR stuff in the compost pile?
    It's worth a shot. Heck, have two compost piles, one for you and one for Dave. Maybe even a third, so you get some actual compost to spread around.
    I may sprinkle a few vegetables in between all the new kangaroo paws I just planted, there's plenty of room until they start growing. They are today's post if you're interested.

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    1. I'll have to head over. You had me at "kangaroo paws."

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  18. We are such bad gardeners that we can't even grow squash. I am accepting any and all donations.

    You can tell the people who have no friends. They're in Safeway's in August, buying Zucchini.

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    1. That there last paragraph is a stand-alone post, right there.

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    2. And some of us who go to the store for our zucchini leave without it because it's two bucks a pound ... I'd hate to think what THAT says about us.

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    3. It's just wrong, wrong, wrong. I don't even know what to say about it. I don't know what it takes to not know anyone trying to unload zucchini. I've always like you a lot, jenny o, but this is disturbing.

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    5. LOL ... actually I don't know many people who garden. Nobody on our street has one. Only two co-workers do, and they don't grow zucchini. Maybe we're all ahead of the curve here? But the thing is, I love zucchini. What we have here is a failure of nature to connect squash growers with squash lovers. I'd almost pay you to mail me some, but it probably wouldn't get through customs.

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  19. We have a twenty year old manure pile that will grow anything. In soil that will only grow spruce trees that is saying something. One year we had squash vines climbing the spruce trees and it looked like they were bearing serious fruit! Alas, it was only squash.

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    1. I've been trying to dress up some of my less inspired trees with clematis vines. Haven't gotten one to "take" yet. But same idea.

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  20. For some unknown reason everybody who I know who grows squash always offers me some. As this has never been a staple of this household I haven't the faintest idea how to cook it. So tell my if you slice it properly will it fit into the toaster?

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    1. It has nothing to do with you. It has to do with them. They are giving it to every damn body.

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  21. Heh! Still chuckling about Kafka =) Roth x

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  22. Thank you, Dr. Brewster, for that little gem of squashtastic rhyme! I'm still laughing! If I may make a humble suggestion: Write a bit more of it, use your inimitable talent to illustrate it, and publish that sucker. It'll go viral faster than a squash in a compost pile.

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    1. I still regret that I didn't think of writing "Now Go The Fuck To Sleep," because I totally could have.

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  23. I wanted to comment yesterday but the Dr. Seuss thing struck me funny and then I went into a giggle fit which made water run from my eyes and I could'nt type.. I came back later and was going to try to comment again but, the snorting started... so today I was very careful NOT to read your post and came straight to comments... gotta go, I feel a gigantic giggle fit coming on.

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    1. As long as snorting was involved at some point, I feel fulfilled.

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