Friday, September 4, 2009

Garden Sprawl Friday

I am wondering if vining pumpkins, as opposed to bush varieties, are more resilient, having a longer life. By which I mean the plant itself. The fruit from both varieties, being a winter squash, lasts for months if not exposed to frost.

The reason I wonder is because along the farmlands I see the pumpkin fields - of a bush variety that is grown for Halloween jack-o-lantern fare - and the plants are yellow and pretty much dead, the pumpkins having ripened three weeks earlier this year.

It was on the news the other night. They were talking about how they haven't seen this early a pumpkin crop in, well, ever or something. Right now the pumpkins ought still to be green; then they ripen in time for use on All Hallows Eve. It could be a problem for the farmers if we get early frosts, but I think it will be alright.

But I wonder about my pumpkins, which are a vining variety:

As you can see, they have ripened in this wonderful summer we've had (and I have a feeling they will redden more, according to their French name) but, unlike the pumpkin plants I see in the farmers' fields, these seem to be holding on for the most part, albeit clearly on their last legs. The first leaves at the beginning of the vines have of course died off, and the others have that late powdery mildew (not really a problem for the pumpkins themselves), but they seem, well, pretty decent for the energy they have been expending all summer.

I wonder if open-pollinated, vining type pumpkin plants hold up better than the others.

One thing to be sure; these ones are going to be richly flavoured. There are now twelve pumpkins altogether. When I counted last (eighteen) some of the pumpkins were smaller in comparison to the others that had taken off exponentially. Naturally the bigger pumpkins take the energy and the smaller one gets starved. I waited a bit to see if the smaller ones would grow more, and at a certain point I snipped them off. I also snipped the ends of all the vines, which tells the vine to stop growing. You don't need to do drastic pruning; you just need to snip a few inches off the end of each vine, including the secondary ones.

Nor do you want to cut off any leaves. The leaves are essential for gathering energy from the sun that goes into the growth of the pumpkins.


catholicconvert said...

Paul, what do you do with them all? I know you eat them, but i mean, is there any way of preserving them? I suppose you might make soup and freeze it, but i'd be interested in hearing what else you do to preserve these and also your other veggies when they grow well.

Paul Stilwell said...

I have eight neices and nephews. I'm simply going to hold a pre-All Hallows Eve pumpkin bash. One pumpkin per kid, under the condition that the seeds get saved of course - and that the pumpkin gets eaten (in whatever manner; pie, soup, etc.), and not thrown away after being carved.

That will leave a few or more for my own experiments...probably soup, French style.

If you store fully ripened pumpkins right (that haven't been carved), they can keep for up to six months as they are. One may want to rinse the outer shell with a light bleach or soap wash, but nothing else, apart from dry dark, not too warm conditions is all that's needed. They have tough shells.

I don't know much about preserving. I put that into the hands of my mom. I'm sure there's got to be a way of preserving pumpkin. Canning it as a puree? I'm not sure.

The beans from the garden get blanched and frozen in zip lock bags. The beets get pickled. Cucmbers get turned into pickles as well. Everything else just gets eaten pretty much right away, or if it doesn't, no worries, as they can stay in the garden and be pulled later on.

catholicconvert said...

Thanks for responding to my comment. Now i know!