Pumpkins, gourds, and squash are seldom grown by the home gardener if space is an issue. Why? Because they are space hogs, that’s why! One zucchini plant can easily take up a full-sized four-foot by eight-foot raised bed, and may even have to be coaxed to stay within those generous borders. 

The popular televised gardening show, “Gardener’s World” offered a solution; one which I have been practicing for some years. Monty Don demonstrated how he installed vertical supports in the form of heavy stakes formed into a tall cone shape. We use cattle panels, posed diagonally against metal stakes, for an even larger canvas for our artistry of squashes. 

Our new favorite, “Zuchino Rampicante” or “Trombino” squash produces fruits that are three feet in length, but perfect for cutting with a spiralizer for a spaghetti substitute.

Our gardening techniques are often peculiar and non-traditional. Where is it written that you must grow your squashes across the ground? Our vertical method takes up far less space, keeps many pests off of the fruit, and allows the fruits to grow nice and straight. Other vegetables such as cucumbers and pumpkins have been grown that way instead of as the traditional sprawling groundcover. Basil and pepper plants round out the scene, along with a splash of floral color.

Don’t allow old methods to dictate how you garden! The old stereotype of having separate vegetable beds from the flower beds is another flawed way of thinking, but one that many gardeners assume must be followed. We’ve grown marigolds and ageratums in the tomatoes, to repel aphids and other pests. Any flowers will benefit the vegetable patch, as it attracts pollinators. 

Do you get discouraged battling bean beetles on your green beans? We have found (quite by accident, when the bunnies ate the first crop) that planting a few weeks later will allow the life cycle of those voracious beetles to run its course. It results in far less destruction than the traditional early crop.

Gardening stereotypes and unquestioned traditions are far less dangerous than those that seem to dictate our actions within society, and even in the church.

It has become trendy to assign attributes to one element of society as if the subgroup was capable only of “group-think,” and not individual thoughts and actions. We use the term “racism” to describe this phenomenon, when the term “stereotype” might better fit. 

Is Coca-Cola and LinkedIn being racist when they ask one race to de-emphasize their color? Is it fair to that race to stereotype them as arrogant and ignorant, and too “self-confident?” Possibly “yes” on both counts. 

People are people, people! Each one of us has our own thoughts, belief system, world view, and actions. Some are right and some are wrong. Our skin color, gender, age, and educational background may color our experiences, but none of that absolutely dictates how we live our lives or where we will spend eternity. None of it determines how we think or act. 

“R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!” sang Aretha Franklin. A little respect for one another individually would go a long way to ending this trendy habit of pigeonholing people based on what groups we are in. Maybe pumpkins of yesteryear were left on the ground to be ravaged by snails, but with some help from a gardener, can reach lofty heights. 

We were put on this beautiful Earth to make a difference, not only in the landscape around us but in the lives of those we touch (Genesis 2:15).

This mission will fail if we succumb to traditional stereotypes of fellow human beings. 

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