21-day lockdown – Day 1 – The Story of the Escaping Pumpkin


21-day lockdown – Day 1 – The Story of the Escaping Pumpkin

On 23 March President Cyril Ramaphosa announced a lockdown of South Africa to try and curb the spread of Covid-19. This means everyone will have to stay at home, and will only be able to go out for essential services or emergencies.

Following this announcement, which took place at around 8 o’clock in the evening, a minor storm hit the West Rand in Gauteng, resulting in rain and a lot of wind. The next morning, we discovered that one of our pumpkins had fallen out of the pompon tree (Dais cotinifolia) it had been growing in, and had rolled down the road. You might at this stage be wondering why a pumpkin was growing in our pompon tree?

Well, as indigenous landscapers we frequently encourage clients to let their gardens grow a little wild, and to not try to constantly control everything. Nature is beautiful as it is without us having to manipulate it, so we believe a little wildness in our gardens is perfectly acceptable. So, in this regard, we decided to let a pumpkin that was growing in our vegetable garden continue its climb into the surrounding vegetation – including the adjacent pompon tree. (We did draw the line when it tried to cross the road into our neighbour’s property). Then, after a few weeks, we discovered that we had two pumpkin fruits developing in the tree, one of which had become wedged in a v-fork of the branches, and which we affectionately began to refer to as our ‘vumpkin’.

(our ‘vumpkin’ growing in our pompon tree)

The other one though was hanging from the tree, and on the night of the 23rd, just after the announcement – and our interpretation of the announcement: “we’re going to eat everything in our garden” – decided to make a run for it (or rather, a roll for it). Unfortunately though, it didn’t get very far, only 40 meters or so, which is where we found it the next day.
PS: if you’re wondering how a pumpkin can roll down a road, here’s a re-enactment:

Fortunately, we ‘rescued’ it and it is now sitting pride of place on our kitchen top, and waiting for the pot.

Which brings us to the point of this article; have you ever considered planting vegetables amongst the existing plants in your garden? Many of us want to adhere to keeping vegetables in a ‘vegetable garden’, but this can blind us to the fact that vegetables are plants too, and if you’re short of space then planting them amongst your shrubs or perennials can allow you to grow more of them, and reap their benefits when it’s harvesting time. Yes, it can look a bit untidy having pumpkin, squash or spinach growing in your manicured garden, but sometimes we have to appreciate that we do actually have the space to grow them (where many others may not), and letting your hair down a bit and allowing your garden to grow a little wild can in itself be one of the joys of gardening. The lifespan of most vegetable plants is just 3-5 months, so you’ll only have to bear with a ‘messy garden’ for about 2-3 months with the joy of a bountiful harvest as a reward.

(harvested from our garden)