When I went out to let the backyard chickens (I actually do have front yard chickens, too) out of their coop that morning, I saw quite a few brand new squash-like sprouts. We had thrown in several rotting pumpkins over the last 3-4 months, specifically in that location. Being behind in spring planting, my mind started racing.
- It was very likely these were pumpkin plants
- I hadn’t planted my pumpkins yet
- It was the same variety that I had seeds for
- They only had their first leaves, so might not transplant well
- If I let the chickens out, they would either eat them or obliterate them by scratching quickly
- I couldn’t remember if my pumpkin area was prepped
I decided to go look at my gardening chart before letting the chickens loose. There was still an abundance of spinach where the pumpkins would go. Who put that there!? I picked in strategically spaced sections and put the garden bin full of spinach in the cool garage. I grabbed 3 empty quart yogurt containers I saw on the patio and a hand trowel.
Once back in the chicken pen, I laid out some overgrown volunteer lettuce that I had already picked for the chickens. I put it away from the pumpkin sprouts, between the coop and my intended work area. I also spread some
chicken scratch grain around the lettuce. I had left the lettuce roots full of dirt and bugs, knowing it would all make it back into my garden once it was composted. The chickens love their job. They had received such fare with enthusiasm the last couple of mornings, but I also know that they know that anywhere I dig exposes interesting yummy things. I would have to work fast, but I didn’t want to leave the chickens in there any longer as it was already getting late in the morning.
As soon as I released the chickens, I went to dig up those seedlings. Fortunately, pumpkin
sprouts start out sturdy. These already had enough roots to hang onto some dirt. I took them right to their new home between stands of spinach. The spinach would be harvested soon anyway with the heat of summer hitting. I watered the transplants in, hoped again that they really are pumpkins, and went on with other chores.
When I went to check on them 2 days later, 3 of the 4 looked robust. They had very definite growth on their true leaves coming up from the middle of the first leaves. One of them looked wimpy until after the sun went down, then it looked fine. Maybe it is in a little shock still, but it appears to have life left in it. I spread some diatomaceous earth around them to eviscerate ravenous critters, because I noticed how many bugs were living nearby under the spinach. I hate it when new seedlings disappear over night. Now “all” I have to do is watch for aphids, squash bugs, and powdery mildew. Then there will be pumpkin for the winter again this year, which will probably include some that get thrown to the chickens…