Larger varieties are no problem if grown with corn, as farmers so often do.
Besides jack-o'-lanterns and pies, the pumpkin can serve as a temporary container for harvest arrangements. Its seeds
may be roasted with butter and salt for nibbling tidbits; or they may be dyed with vegetable or soap dyes and strung into necklaces.
Corn for outdoor corn roasts should be included, too. If space is limited, choose the new Midget corn. Count on two ears per plant, and be sure that the planting is large enough to supply at least one special picnic party. And remember that corn should always be planted in blocks of at least four rows to insure pollination.
Potatoes may seem like a commonplace crop for this particular garden-but not if you remember the fun of bonfire-roasted potatoes. A few hills, grown in soil that is loamy, well-drained, and not limed, will yield plenty for a party or two. Here again the hidden crop provides an element of excitement. The main problem is to keep it from being dug too soon, although there is no harm in a little exploratory probing by hand to determine the size.
Midget watermelons and midget muskmelons, too, are ideal party material, and just about the right size for individual portions. These small melons ripen in a shorter time than standard varieties, and are pretty foolproof if given a light, loose, rich soil. Dusting frequently, with an all-purpose garden dust, during the critical early stages will ward off the destructive cucumber beetle.
None of these things is really difficult to grow. Most seed houses give the fullest instructions, either in their catalogs or on the seed packets themselves. The young beginner should learn to pay the strictest attention to these rules.
When a plant requires something special, like 'light, loose, rich soil," and your garden doesn't come under that heading, this is no real excuse for not growing that plant. It doesn't take much extra time to convert the space needed for a hill or two of watermelons, for instance, into just the sort of soil they prefer. By removing a couple of shovelfuls of soil from each planting space and mixing in compost, well-rotted manure, or dried cow or sheep manure, plus peatmoss to make it loose
textured, you will have created an ideal condition as far as these few plants are concerned. An occasional dose of liquid manure or liquid fertilizer should be given to plants specifically requiring a rich soil.
If you stop and think about it, for the sake of the beginner it is just as well if his garden soil doesn't always measure up to the special requirements of certain plants.
For thus he learns about the necessity for catering to the individual appetites of different plants, and is spared the unfortunate illusion that gardening is no trouble. It is trouble, but the rewards should be worth it. You may find other plants mentioned in Chapter 13 that your small gardener will consider good party food.