The Pottawatomie County Free Fair is in full swing. Lots of things to see and do. Come visit and check out the veggie, fruit, plant, and grass entries to see some great produce and compare the ribbon winners. My French pumpkin pulled it off! Walk over to the air-conditioned building to look at the booths, especially the Deep Fork Audubon Society and Multi-County Master Gardener booths. See the bright lights of the carnival and ride Ņ.

September 6th 2013 Blog

Becky Emerson Carlberg

The Pottawatomie County Free Fair is in full swing at the Expo Center.  Entries came in on Wednesday for the plants, veggies, flowers and grasses, followed by the judging on Thursday morning.  Yesterday afternoon (Thursday), I took a break from our Deep Fork Audubon Society booth to wander over to check out my French pumpkin entry.

You have already been introduced to my French pumpkins.  My sister gave me a gorgeous French pumpkin last autumn.  It turned into my Halloween pumpkin, but I saved some of the seeds that were planted this spring.  Eight healthy plants sprouted and grew, producing long vines with vibrant green fuzzy leaves and bright yellow flowers.  Five plants were in the raised bed.  Yes, the home of the pocket gophers.  I could blame the gophers, or perhaps the grasshoppers, or even the deer, but one by one the vines perished.  They either entirely disappeared or were cut off at the base and withered away.  There were two exceptions.  Two pumpkin vines managed to survive in a long planter outside the raised bed. 

Small pumpkins began forming, and my hopes began to rise.  I might have pumpkins yet.  One vine was cut, leaving four green leaves, but the rest a long dead lifeless vine with no viable pumpkins.  The other vine carried on, but it had only one baby pumpkin.  One perfectly squat and round teeny pumpkin growing directly below the tomato, shielded from predators (grasshoppers) and happy with life.  It was a short life.  That vine was then sliced neatly in two, and I said goodbye to my pumpkin.  The little guy did an interesting thing.  Rather than rot away, it continued on its mission and kicked into ripening mode….all 2 inches in diameter of it.  Day by day the little curcubit turned from green to yellow to a respectable pumpkin orange. 

I harvested the magnificent fruit and took it with me to the fair to show off my pumpkin crop to the other Master Gardeners in charge of receiving and placing plant entries.  I watched as a giant, 50 pound plus pumpkin was wheeled in, lounging in a metal cart, and hoisted up onto the table.  Ha, size isn’t everything.  My pumpkin had personality.

So I began the circuitous route to: (a) check-in table near the open doors to fill out a sheet of paper with my name, address and what I was entering, (b) over to the entry form table to complete the form used in judging, and (c) back to the last table, staffed by master gardeners, for registration and distribution of my pumpkin.  It was gently placed on its white paper plate that had a rubber band looped through a hole in the plate as well as the entry form.  It was official.  My French pumpkin was now a recognized competitor.   I carried it to the melon table and placed it next to the other pumpkin entry.  The little pumpkin was overshadowed by its enormous cousin, but was not the least bit intimidated as it sat patiently in the middle of its white plate.  It reminded me of a small orange weather balloon that had landed in the center of a large ice field.   Nice cool thought on a hot day.

Thursday I received a call from fellow master gardener Linda, asking how did it feel to be a blue ribbon winner?  Really?  My pumpkin did it.  OK…. it was the only entry in its class, and the blue ribbon was five times the size of the pumpkin….. but what a hoot!

Speaking of, come out and visit the Deep Fork Audubon Society booth and the Multi-County Master Gardener booth, both located in air-conditioned splendor in the building in front of the stadium at the fair.  If you see the tractors parked to the west outside the building, you have come to the right place.  The bird booth can be recognized by the barn owls and barn swallows (no, they are pictures) and some great photos taken by Steve Trammell.  The Master Gardeners have a lovely display of succulent plants, gloves, cookbooks and gardening paraphernalia. Go ahead and check out the other booths as well!

Do not miss the veggie, fruit, grass and potted plants in the large expo building to the south.  Lots of blue ribbon winners.  MG Linda’s large tomatoes and onions are impressive and their blue ribbons set them off nicely. Ahh, to be able to grow onions like that! Tom Terry’s begonias have an even larger ribbon complex.  They won the Grand Prize.  To all who entered their plants and produce, a hearty congratulations and well done.

Heads up.  It has been 22 days since rain has fallen, and no rain is expected for another week.  Temperatures are to stay above the norm as well.   Water those flowers and trees and gardens now. 

But the mystery deepens.   Where are the hurricanes?