Friday, August 27, 2010


I do love vegetables, but not in that way. Fact is, I have little direct knowledge of squash eros beyond the stamen and pistil of it, the bird-and-bee basics, and I wasn't sure when I planted my squashes this year whether they'd grow much at all, let alone reproduce, the seeds being foreign (American), a status which - as I know from personal experience - can pose interesting problems whether or not you're of the gourd family. New language, new culture etc., especially in Japan, the most different country in the world, can present quite a challenge even for self-labeled intelligent beings like ourselves, let alone the more vegetatively oriented species.

Back at the beginning my squash plants (straightnecks, crooknecks and sunbursts) were naturally uncertain as they emerged from their hulls, sent up leaves and looked around. These parameters were not familiar. Alien vegetables can have difficulties with different soil, to say nothing of temperature, sunlight and insect life (do seeds have jet lag?), maybe even magnetic orientations. Plus it was rainy season here then - no rainy season where they came from - and there's different birds and bees here, plus monkeys, and no squash bees that I know of.

Amidst all this the puzzled seedlings grew tentatively, not sure of what to do or how to act, surrounded by Japanese tomatoes, Japanese peppers, Japanese cucumbers, even Japanese strawberries. So the newbies started sending up a few timid-looking male blossoms and an occasional half-hearted female blossom, when what we needed was more of a Mae West type, so nothing came of that; then it would rain hammers again. Soon a sort of leafy forlornness and stemmy homesickness seemed to set in; also the local insectry didn't appear to be all that interested. I figured I was going to have to show the squashes what it was all about, get them turned on somehow, if it came to that. I figured squash porn was the answer.

So one non-rainy morning when I was feeling frisky and there were a few halfhearted blossoms of each type I took one of the more impressive male blossoms of each variety, stripped it naked and started pollinating the female blossoms, hoping mainly that I'd at least get a few goodsize squash out of it, but if the local insects couldn't take the cue from me I'd have to keep on doing it all myself, like a cattle breeder, hoping none of the neighbors would happen by.

I don't know whether it was due to my efforts or not, but since then, those randy plants are extending in all directions, taking over the garden in venusian abandon. It's a menage au dozens out there, and I don't really want to yell out the window at night for them to keep it down...


Tabor said...

Just finished watching the documentary based on the book Botany of Desire. These squash are teaching you well.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a beautiful harvest!