When Alexis and I had first moved to Northern Ontario in addition to the reverse culture shock of coming back from spending our first years together in India, we were enjoying all of the highs and lows that come with being first time home owners. One of the highs was getting to put in a garden for the first time.
We tackled it with enthusiasm, determined to do everything organically and grow a ton of our own food despite getting started too late for a full growing season. We quickly learned that the soil on our land was going to require a ton of compost if we wanted to be able to have healthy cucumbers, peppers and flourishing tomatoes, but the green beans and zucchini flourished with little to no over site.
However, the part of the garden that brought us the most laughter and joy was the small watermelon patch we had planted last minute with some seeds that a neighbour was going to throw out. They got into the ground much too late to thrive, but they still grew into three miniature healthy plants with a miniature healthy watermelon about the size of a golf ball on each.
Come autumn we decided to connect with the community by entering our enormous zucchini in the fall fair in the “largest zucchini” category. It was larger than any zucchini either of us had ever seen and we were sure we were a shoe in. Since the entry fee allowed us to enter as many categories as we wanted, we went ahead and entered tomatoes and cucumbers and other vegetables as well, we even entered the largest watermelon category as a joke.
We wandered around the fair, connecting with neighbours and meeting new ones. Eventually a friend came up to us with a grin on her face and said we had placed in a competition. Excitedly we rushed over to where the zucchinis were in the produce section only to crease out brows in confusion. Had our neighbour been pulling our leg? There were zucchinis much larger than ours present that had arrived after we had dropped ours off and it was those, not ours, that sported the ribbons.
Then Alexis giggled and I let my eyes follow hers to another section of the arena where only one watermelon was sitting. There was the first place ribbon on our joke entry. We walked over laughing and a master gardener joined us and struck up a conversation.
“It’s been the worst year in these parts for watermelons in over a decade. I had managed to tend one to be the size of a softball but I was too embarrassed to enter it … guess I should have after all.”
That evening Alexis and I enjoyed fried zucchini with a tiny slice of perfectly ripe watermelon for desert.
Do you have any fun or surprising gardening stories you’d we willing to share in the comments? Hope to hear from you!