Patience lost

Sometimes the plant world surprises me. This pumpkin, for example… Any guesses when I bought it?

The white pumpkin that wouldn't die

I really like pumpkins, but this thing has been sitting in my office at work for a very long time. I keep waiting for it to shrivel, or to become covered in mold, something…anything so I can get rid of it.  But, it has stayed the same, week after week, month after month, year after….

I’ve been playing that balance between wanting to see how long the pumpkin would last and wanting to just move on. Finally, that balance tipped.

The white pumpkin, smashed into three pieces

Several people insisted it must have dried up completely, like a an ornamental gourd. But this pumpkin still had heft and it still felt and looked like it had a lot of moisture  in it. As you can see, it did. There is still a lot of moist pumpkin flesh left inside the rind. I tasted it – all the sweet pumpkiny goodness had turned to bland starch. Into the compost pile it goes!

Dried remains of a pumpkin, 1 month after putting on top of compost pile

Here is what remains today (7/31/2021) after almost a month sitting on top of the compost pile during a record drought. Most of the flesh has been eaten away leaving behind a dried pumpkin shell. At least something (our chipmunks?) enjoyed it.

Uneaten pumpkin seeds in compost

I was surprised to see that the seeds were left behind though. Usually the chipmunks have gobbled those down. Maybe the seeds are empty?

Pumpkin seed embryos

Nope, the little pumpkin embryos are in there and still alive, though the two center ones have some rot starting at the top of the cotyledon. I saved a few seeds to grow next year, but in all likelihood I will forget to plant them. At least a few will also probably germinate out of the compost itself when I spread it in the garden in a few years. Like this squash did from last year’s compost.

Squash germinating from seed in compost

So, the chipmunks don’t eat everything. There always seems to be at least a few seeds left behind. Perhaps, in a few years we will suddenly have a bumper crop of white pumpkins and I’ll wonder how they got there. I’ll leave you with a picture of the inside of the pumpkin shell. Very intricate, I am sure that Peter’s unnamed wife would approve of this as a wallpaper.


Intricate interior of a dried pumpkin shell

I just looked up the meaning behind the nursery rhyme “Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater”. Never mind my rather innocent interpretation of the nursery rhyme above. Turns out that Peter may have murdered his wife, who was a prostitute, and put her body in a pumpkin shell. Yech. This got dark, quick. Back to something less gruesome, the age of this white pumpkin!

The white pumpkin that wouldn't die

So, did you guess how long I had this pumpkin? I bought it in October 2019 and smashed it on July 5, 2021. That would make at least 20 months old! Too bad I didn’t let it go another 4 months, but I was tired of having to work around it and dreading the day I might come into the office and find a putrefying, pulpy pumpkin puddle. Has anyone else had a pumpkin last a really long time?

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