Gardening, like many other hobbies, requires time, effort, and energy. The more of these precious commodities that we put into our gardens, the more the garden will give back. Sometimes, however, gardens reward us for our negligence. I’m not always the most diligent gardener, but this year my forgetfulness grew into something special.
Volunteers: When The Garden Gives Back
Modern life is hectic, tedious, and time-consuming. For most, walking outside and enjoying a leisurely stroll through the garden is therapeutic. Unfortunately, my garden isn’t in my backyard because I don’t have one. It’s about three miles away. It’s not excusable, but these factors lead to sporadic neglect of my green space.
When returning from a spell of neglect my garden gawks at me. I’m usually welcomed by dry leaves, weeds, and fruit, but occasionally, something magical happens. As if all of the hours spent toiling in the soil were remembered, volunteer plants spring up with primordial vigor.
Last year – after an exceptionally long period of neglect – I left some melons in a raised bed. Nature took its course, the melons decomposed, and I barely noticed. Three months ago my garden reminded me when a small mysterious melon plant decided to show up.
The Cantaloupe Melon That Could
Spring was giving way to summer, the garden was full, and I was so busy harvesting, sowing, and reaping the rewards of my hard work that I hardly noticed the mystery melon at first. It was growing next to a small block of spring onions and took some time to really get growing, but a few weeks after its arrival I couldn’t help but notice it. In a matter of 6 weeks, its large leaves and small yellow blooms had completely consumed a six by ten foot raised bed.
I’ve had plenty of volunteers pop up in my garden before, and with varying levels of success, but this melon plant put them all to shame. It produced 17 melons – all weighing between three and five pounds (1-5 kg.) before I could even identify what it was.
Between myself, family, and friends I was able to find hungry homes for all seventeen of them. I brought the last one to a house party and it was gone before we ate dinner. Everyone kept complimenting me, but I wouldn’t accept the praise. I told them I had nothing to do with it, but I’ll pass the compliments on to my garden.