If you see a pumpkin – tread on it.
But do it early. Otherwise they get so big you just hurt your foot.
I only issue this pumpkin alert because I believe this is the year they may take over. It’s a well known fact that pumpkins are aliens, lurking in the guise of vegetables (actually, they’re fruit). Unsuspecting gardeners wander through pumpkin patches looking for one to eat, but instead the pumpkins drag you down and suck your brains out.
The small ones wriggle in through your ear and you spend the rest of your life as a pumpkin clone. If you’re alert to the problem you can spot these clones wandering in the community. They breathe with their mouths open.
Did I say pumpkin patch? That’s in a normal year. This year in not normal. This year there are no pumpkin patches; just pumpkin wildernesses and we are rapidly becoming the State of Pumpkin instead of the State of Queensland.
Ironically this has nothing to do with the Queensland pumpkin, but with the Jap pumpkin. The Jap pumpkin has the survival skills of a cockroach. It doesn’t matter what you buy or eat or grow, it’s always Jap pumpkins that come through the ground. Today they are five big leaves and a yellow flower; tomorrow they’re a forest; the day — or rather, the night — after, they’re unscrewing the hinges from the doors and crawling towards your bedroom.
Try this experiment: bulldoze 10 centimetres of top soil off your entire block, spray a general purpose herbicide over it all, allow nothing to be imported to your block (especially nothing that might have seeds) for at least 12 months. Stand back and watch.
The first thing through the ground will be a Jap pumpkin. And before anybody accuses me of being some kind of racist with an armoury buried in the back garden let me say that I don’t believe Jap pumpkins have anything to do with the Japanese. They’re also called Kent pumpkins, which is a county in England. I’ve lived there. Take my word for this: You wouldn’t want to be invaded by people from Kent.
(As an aside I should add that the second thing through the ground will be tomatoes. That’s another curious fact of life – everywhere in the world tomatoes spawn themselves out of air. It’s a well known fact that they’re the staple diet of everything that lives in Antarctica).
But this year is going in the record books as the Year of the Pumpkin. My friends phone me, close to hysteria, wanting to know if I’d like a pumpkin. They usually add that I have to collect it myself – they’re not game to wander alone through the pumpkin patch.
I don’t say anything any more. I just hang up. It upsets me when they start crying; and I’ve got pumpkin problems of my own.
My wife is at the door, carrying a pumpkin. It’s a Jap.
“How about pumpkin for lunch?” she says.
“We had pumpkin for breakfast,” I reply. “And for dinner last night. My mid-morning snack was a pumpkin.”
“But they’re… good for you. I love them.”
“Why are you breathing through your mouth?”
“I have a cold.”