My apologies for the long silence. After a trip out of town, I've been attending to all the issues that affect the Desert Garden when one walks out on it in the middle of Summer.
Foremost among these has been the Mystery of the Missing Pumpkin. If you look carefully at the picture above, the first thing you'll notice is the complete absence of pumpkin vine. I have spent a good long time peering at that particular patch of soil, and the closest examination has thus far failed to reveal even a single pumpkin vine. It appears to be nothing but a patch of garden soil with a smattering of bark mulch. I may be missing something, but it seems unlikely.
When I left town that now-barren patch of soil was full of pumpkin vine; stems running hither and thither, tendrils curling in every direction, and yet-unopened flower buds practically pulsing with pumpkin potential. In a fit of cleverness, I had this year decided to sow my pumpkin seed in the corn-patch, and while the corn was long-finished, its dried stalks continued to provide shelter and support for the burgeoning pumpkin vines.
Of the many things we learn from growing a vegetable garden, surprisingly few of them have to do with plants and soils and insects. Building good soil, planting appropriate plants, and squishing bugs as needed are pretty easy to grasp. It's the less concrete skills that are so often the mark of a successful gardener: faith, hope, charity, patience, moderation, contentment, diligence, generosity, resilience; these are among the virtues that really make a garden work.
Despite having been advised that there was no need for any exertion greater than watering and picking vegetables, one of the friends who generously looked after the vegetable garden in my absence proudly informed me on my return that he had taken upon himself the extra-credit task of digging out the dead corn stalks so things would look tidier. When one willfully abandons one's vegetable garden in the middle of Summer and leaves it to the volunteer ministrations of kindly friends, one forfeits the right to ask, "So, did you happen to notice any pumpkin vines in the midst of your massacre?"
I am practicing resignation, gratitude, forgiveness, and humor. Wish me luck.