Pumpkin Carving, Fall Garden Bloom

Nothing like a bit of cool weather to get us feeling like autumn again. Finally. Many of the trees on our property still cling to their leaves; no fall colors to see here unless you’re counting mums and pansies.

Our life, as usual this time of year, is fraught with activity. With the 1st-Nine-Week period of school come and gone, kids all earned their hard-worked spots on the Honor Roll. It was sweet Angie who was awarded Citizenship Award (two per class given); that’s an award I want all my kids to have! For the time-being, full throttle with math, reading, writing and PTA duties have the summer doldrums filed into distant memory.

The pumpkin carving exercise is well-deserved. All Hallow’s Eve traditionally punctuates the beginning of the long holiday stretch here in Texas, beginning with decorating jack-o-lanterns — one to represent each member of our family — and ending with New Year’s late night sweets. These days are a constant reminder that not only is Thanksgiving right around the corner (when holiday lights go up), but Christmas and all it’s sad human consumption habits are only weeks off now.

The holiday season has a love-hate relationship with us.

In The Garden

There is still much going on with little hands-on effort. We bid farewell to the lone pumpkin volunteer, viciously attacked by vine borers (we don’t use chemicals, remember?). It instead became chaw for the lawn mower, ultimate fertilzer for the turf grass.

It’s looking to be a good plum year and four of eight fig trees are exploding with the second crop of the year.

People, there is something to this lasagna garden business if you’re looking to eat from the yard with minimal effort. Really. I am way too busy for gardening these days, but food keeps growing to spite me.  In addition to the beets and kohlrabi who are just now peeking out of their beds, here is currently what’s growing, maturing, or otherwise waiting to be picked and eaten here:

  • Cantaloupe
  • Arugula (none of the spinach made it)
  • Cushaw squash
  • Broccoli greens (no crowns yet)
  • Bell Pepper (still going!)
  • Figs

Planting a Camellia and not a rose variety is a first in my yard, with Dianthus and Cyclamen in pinks and whites welcoming all to the front door. For the first time since we moved her, invasive grasses are no more! Soon the other side of the walkway will be mirrored, replacing sad, but still flowering periwinkle from early summer.

“Pretty” is the goal at the front of the house (for the neighbors), while “functional” is relegated to the back (for me).

Mo, the ox-beetle grub and his cohorts continue to eat and grow on the porch in a 5-gallon bucket. We are still awaiting the pupa stage.

Now, for some not-so-nice news. With the sadness of the previous week still fresh in our minds, another horrible accident unfolded only days later: my friend’s toddler fell into her backyard swimming pool and was pulled out by a sibling — unresponsive. It was a blow to the gut of our school community, but this potential tragedy ended well. He was revived by paramedics on the way to the hospital, suffered no long-term damage, and is home resting and being loved extra hard by his family and friends. The big, beautiful sister — who saved his life — is now a hero.

Life is so very precious, my friends.

If you want to see photos in hi-res, click on a photo to start the gallery.

What’s growing in your garden?

Do you have any Halloween traditions?

25 thoughts on “Pumpkin Carving, Fall Garden Bloom

  1. Those are some very cool jack o lanterns. Halloween isn’t such a big deal over here but the kids do still trick or treat, only visiting houses with lit pumpkins on display. One big difference is the kids only dress in creepy costumes. No Spider-Man or Snow White etc.


    1. I too am not pleased with the marketing costumes here. It’s very much “American,” though I much prefer the scary ones too. After all, it IS All Hallow’s Eve! We’re supposed to be scaring spirits away, for crying out loud. Hard to do that as Snow White.


    1. I pulled off my first cushaw today! It’s a 10-pounder. I forgot to pull the two cantaloupe…I hope they’re still there in the morning (raccoon like them too).

      Kids do the gutting, Scott does the carving. I just take pictures and roast the seeds! He’s certainly got some talent, methinks.


  2. Love the pictures Shannon! And I’m so glad your friend’s son is okay. I can’t imagine how scared his parents were.


    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carly. Glad you enjoyed the pics. He’s doing fine now. He was back at the hospital a couple of times with complications from water in the lungs (and a resultant hospital-borne infection). I think mostly his parents are just very, very tired. And very, very happy at the same time.


  3. As always, I love your words! 🙂 and your pictures! and your green grass and year round garden!
    Now please please please explain to me how I add a link to one of my previous posts like you did with the “sadness of the previous week”. (Which has me hugging my kids more already after only just reading it.) Now if this post made any sense I will be amazed! Sorry, its been one of those days!


  4. Yaaay Honor Roll! Way to go! The gardening looks great! I am going to have to try this Lasagna thing next year. Our garden has been put to bed, and it’s just as well, Sandy has wreaked havoc here. I’m not sure anything would have survived. Love the pumpkins!


    1. You guys must have gotten pummeled by rain and snow. I hope the east coast recovers quickly. I can’t even watch the news — just horrible damage all along the coastline. We’re no strangers to hurricanes and flooding, but it is no less tragic when it happens somewhere else in America.

      There’s a book on lasagna gardening by Patricia Lanza (who coined the phrase). It’s worth the read! Really, it’s just letting nature do what nature already does best.

      Glad you stopped by here. I’ve missed you, Libby!


      1. Oh, I’ve missed you too! I, know, I’ve been MIA, the DH has been working out of town since July and I’m left to run the place single handed. The storm was quite an event. No lasting damage thankfully. We were without power for 3 days, and lost everything in the freezer. I guess we made out better than the poor folks in NY or NJ. My heart goes out to them. I’ll be sure to grab that book. One can never have too many gardening books, don’t you know. 🙂


      2. Bummer about the freezer contents, but I’m glad you’re okay. Sorry you had to go it alone…it is such a horrible devastation over there.

        The footage reminds me too much of Galveston Island after Ike. But our island has done a great job coming back in just 4 years. Humans are so resilient at re-building and getting back to it.


  5. Big congratulations to the kids for making the Honor Roll (and for their pumpkin carving accomplishments), and to Angie for her award. It’s hard to believe this time of year is already here and that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and 2013 are all around the corner – not to mention Deepavali. Glad to hear that your friend’s young one will be here for all that. Life manages to be both fragile and resilient.

    Speaking of life, I’m truly jealous of that magic garden that creates food for you while you carry on with your busy life … and I look forward to updated pics of your sweet grub.


    1. Deepavali — I completely forgot about that! That was indeed my favorite holiday in Malaysia. I got many chances to wear saris during the many celebrations.

      Thanks for your kind comments. The next photo of Mo will be in his winter blanket, I hope.


  6. Great photos! That is so wonderful about her citizenship award. Way to go, Angie!! My son always gets the highest score in his class for the very same thing. His teacher says he is always generous, caring, kind and helpful to all his peers. Really, to me, this is more important than other grades.

    I am so sorry about the toddler accident, but thank goodness everything’s okay now. The sister is a hero!


    1. We got even more bad news yesterday — a family member is in the hospital with heart valve failure. I can’t even watch the news for the storm damage out your way; it’s just more than I can bear right now. Hope your kiddos had a tremendous candy-haul.


    1. Great! I may not do that again. Really jacked up my stats page. I didn’t realize that each photo counted as a “hit.” My blog stats quadrupled overnight. 🙂


  7. Gad, you just had to remind me that the holiday season is starting. 🙂 But, alas, we have nothing growing in our garden. Actually we have no garden. LOL. And, also, no traditions to speak of. Are we dull people or what! 🙂

    Enjoyed the post, Shannon. 🙂


    1. It’s getting harder and harder for the kids to trick-or-treat. Most neighborhoods keep their lights off, cities are throwing festivals instead (managing the crowds better), and it’s just plain a pain-in-the-butt for Mom and Dad. Kids are all too happy to get all the candy though, so they might have something to say about it.

      What? Nothing growing in your yard that you can eat? Not even dandelions? They make great salad greens!

      PS – I like dull people. I married one. 🙂


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