Articles by Jim Gainan

As published in the Billings Gazette

Growing Up: Try sowing, harvesting pumpkins and gourds

JIM GAINAN Growing Up | Posted: Sunday, October 17, 2010 12:00 am

I’m back.  And I’m sorry it has been so long.  For me it’s like the fall has been in ‘fast forward’.  This morning I realized that there were only 26 days until our annual Christmas Show, which has always been the first Sunday of November. 

Part of the reason that everything feels so rushed for me is that a week ago Angie took a 6 day road trip with her mother leaving me in the care of three children to learn the ‘hard way’ what a week in her life is like.  I’m saving my notes from that experience for a tell-all book or a Mothers’ day tribute, but let’s just say that between the caramels starting a fire in the microwave, two trips to the vet and the ‘car pool’, I was begging for mercy 24 hours into the ordeal. 

As usual, there was a lesson.  I had a totally different garden in my care. For that week, I didn’t do anything in the yard — and it looks like it. But what’s different is that I feel closer to the kids and more appreciative of their mother than I ever have before.  You see, I thought I had a job and was busy and that is true.  But, I’ve never felt what it’s like to have little lives by myself for that many days completely in my care. Now I know — a little bit more clearly — what it feels like to be a mom. So, ladies if you feel misunderstood or unappreciated and you think it’s safe to do so, take a nice long trip.  There’s a lesson in there for everyone.

OK, back to the garden.  As you know this year, I was able to produce a cucumber crop, which was a feat in itself, considering the disaster they were in 2009.  I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re going to be canning pickles or anything, but we did enjoy our share this summer.  I ventured into the pumpkin arena in a pretty vacant area of the yard mostly for the fast-growing broadleaf ground cover -– with a goal of producing a ‘few’ pumpkins.

Guess what?  You’re right. Nothing.  I’m a slow learner.  I planted them in the same spot that the cucumbers failed in summer 2009.  When I plant, it’s usually a little too early and I don’t take into account the amount of shade that will eventually evolve when the leaves are completely foliated and the position of the sun has changed.  So, now it is committed to memory that even though the area is as sun-drenched as Scottsdale all late fall-, winter- and spring-long, it is virtually completely shaded in the summer.  I’m thinking about shady perennials and if that doesn’t work, maybe a lawn ornament collection?

If you’d like to try your hand at pumpkins and gourds.  

Jim Gainan is VP / Shareholder of Gainan’s Flower and Garden Center in Billings.