Squash Quash


By Vicki Brown

I violated my squash.

I know that sounds crazy, but it is the truth. I feel rather creepy and guilty, but it had to be done.

Let me explain.

I am not known for my agricultural expertise. In fact, I am rather hopeless when it comes to growing vegetables and fruits. A complete failure.

We have never been able to eat anything I have ever tried to grow. I can grow flowers, but not food.

It all started about 5 years ago when I decided to plant a garden. I did everything I thought you were supposed to do. I dug holes in the dirt where they could get plenty of sunshine and dropped in seeds. Then I watered my seeds and waited. Soon some rather pathetic looking plants started to grow. I was delighted and so excited. Eventually, flowers appeared, and I knew that soon vegetables would start to grow and maybe even a watermelon that I had planted.

The flowers withered and died, so then and I waited for the fruit.

And I waited.

And I waited.

But nothing showed up. A tiny watermelon did come but it was the size of a softball at maturity.

I gave up.

A few years later, I tried to grow squash and cucumbers. This time I fertilized the dirt. Beautiful green leaves appeared and then some flowers. Once again, I got excited and ready to see some vegetables. But I noticed that bugs were eating the leaves, so I got insect repellent and sprinkled it on the plants.

Nothing grew.

I discovered much later that I had ruined the chance to have pollinators work on the flowers, pollinate them, and thereby allow fruit or veggies to grow. OK, lesson learned.

So several months ago, I decided to try a garden again. I bought a 2 foot terrarium complete with tiny biodegradable pouches so all I had to do was drop in vegetable seeds, water them, put the terrarium top over the tiny garden, and wait. It wasn’t long before I had seedlings sprouting up. I was thrilled.

But then it came time to plant the garden outside. I was filled with worry and trepidation. I have a college education and a good many graduate courses under my belt, but nothing filled me with such anxiety as trying to make a garden grow outside. So I read everything I could about growing vegetables.

I live in an area that has crummy, sandy soil, and we all know how hot it gets here in this part of South Carolina with periods of drought, so I had an idea.

I had 2 huge armoire drawers that I was no longer using, so I drilled holes in the bottom and put plastic walls around the sides. I set the drawers up on stands, filled the drawers with fertile dirt, at least 18 inches deep, fertilized the dirt, carefully planted the seedlings that I had started from scratch, watered the seedlings, and waited.

Now, as far as fertilization goes, I ended up having a close and intimate relationship with cow manure. I was thoroughly disgusted and wouldn’t touch the stuff without gloves, but it still got everywhere on my clothes. However, I knew it was good for the soil, and I was more than glad that the stuff didn’t stink.

Weeks later, I had beautiful flowering vines everywhere. But no vegetables were appearing. And I was especially worried that I had not seen a single pollinator nearby. So I studied up on this and realized I would have to do it myself. I would have to pollinate those stupid flowers.

Where’s a good bee when you need one.

So, armed with a Q-tip, I marched outside, gathered my courage and dignity, and violated my squash. I swabbed the male part of the flower and then swabbed the female part. Then it was a waiting game.

Well, it was creepy, but it worked. I have a few tiny squash growing from the vines. Eureka!

But right now, I feel as though I should be arrested.