Posted in Bats, Vegetables, Zambia

Bats, blue pumpkins ‘n’ more

Our bats returned a few weeks ago, with a new friend. Earlier this week, we counted ten. Today there are only nine (one is just out of shot – obviously camera-shy). I have discovered that they are Wahlberg’s Epauletted Fruit Bats, and I guess they’re back because of the ripe fruit trees. I think they are rather lovely. We see them flying after dark and dipping down to drink from the pool.

We’re thinking about going to Kasanka for the Straw-coloured fruit bat migration in November, although the Biology teacher at school tells us that they’re rather ‘messy’ (droppings falling everywhere – watch this video and you can imagine) and he says as well as rabies, they can carry Ebola virus so… I am in two minds! It would be amazing to experience.

So, I’ve always fancied myself as a bit of a ‘Barbara Good’ – I refer back to my failed veggie patch and chicken fencing in the Isle of Man. (And if you’ve never seen The Good Life then shame on you, go and watch it immediately!). Here she is, at her most glamorous (and I mean that, most sincerely).

Photo credit

A few weeks ago I collected some seeds from a blue pumpkin, dried them out, popped them in some compost (along with egg boxes of basil seeds and ‘bush beans’), and low and behold they have sprouted! I have planted 6 pumpkin plant seedlings, leaving the others to sprout properly, and I also have two bush bean shoots sprouting as well. I haven’t ever had much luck growing vegetables from seeds, as I am sure you can tell. I am interested to see what I can grow – the conditions are perfect, and as long as I don’t forget to water…! The rainy season is still a long way off.

Just by the way, I hadn’t even heard of a blue pumpkin until I moved here. Is it just me? What a sheltered life I’ve led! Here is the ‘mother plant’ – she made a lovely soup and some pumpkin spiced muffins (which were much better than the beetroot ones I made last year. Obviously.

Our papaya tree is bearing ripe fruit (hence the bats!) so we might give them another try – in my opinion they taste a bit ‘vegetable-y’ for a fruit, but my mother says they’re tasty if you squeeze some lime juice over them and sprinkle with sugar. Don’t worry, I’ll leave some for my winged, inverted friends.

Below are my little pumpkin seedlings, planted alongside some not-very-successful strawberry plants, and the other picture shows my bush bean seedlings. I am ridiculously excited about growing my own vegetables.

I have some cucumber and tomato seeds, and mange tout are also on my list as soon as I can find some seeds. (You gardeners out there can probably tell me – harvesting seeds from shop-bought refrigerated mange tout probably won’t germinate – true or false?)

The earth really is that colour, and it gets everywhere.

N.B. I shall be buying a flat cap one day, to go with the wellies for my ‘Barbara’ makeover, but not in Zambia. Far too hot! (32°C/89.6°F today)


8 thoughts on “Bats, blue pumpkins ‘n’ more

  1. Not to mention Leptospirosis (Weil’s syndrome ) , although bats are not specifically mentioned! I think you should go. Love you, Daddy xxx. P.S. Suzanna’s Amy may have it from standing in dirty water while washing elephants in Nepal. She’s out of hospital awaiting test results. The friend she was with has been diagnosed with it and both should make a full recovery.

  2. Holy, blue pumpkin? It’s not just you, I’ve never heard of this before. Time for me to start looking a little harder in the grocery store. Unless it’s like cheese and blue cheese; cuz then I think I’ll pass.

  3. Would you add your bat photo as a citizen-science observation to the AfriBats project on iNaturalist?:

    AfriBats will use your observations to better understand bat distributions and help protect bats in Africa.

    Please locate your picture on the map as precisely as possible to maximise the scientific value of your records.

    Many thanks!

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