October 10, 2012
Harvesting the Pumpkin Patch
As you know, I love seasonal decorations and with Halloween, (my favorite holiday) and Thanksgiving approaching, it was time to think autumn. Good thing Ryan, my gardener, and I planned ahead and planted a large pumpkin patch, which quite amazingly, provided us with many, many pumpkins and other decorative winter squash. Pumpkins are members of the curcurbit family, which includes pumpkins, squash, cucumbers, luffas, watermelons, and melons. Pumpkins and squash are believed to have originated in the ancient Americas. These early varieties of squash kept well and were valuable food sources, sustaining populations through the winter months. The dried outer shells were used as bowls and other vessels for food storage. The Native Americans introduced pumpkins and squashes to Pilgrim settlers and this food source was so important to them that it became a symbol of Thanksgiving.
When planting our pumpkin patch, Ryan used a large variety of seeds that we have been saving for several years. It’s very difficult to correctly identify each variety, but I can share with you many of our sources. See below:
1 I recently visited the pumpkin patch at my farm and harvested quite a few beauties!
2 This year, we decided to plant the pumpkin patch on the far side of the greenhouse and vegetable garden. This area receives full sun and the vines thrived there. The large, fleshy leaves cover over most of the squash as they form.
3 Peeking below those leaves - This photo, taken last August, is of a famous winter squash from France called potimarron. The name is derived from potiron (pumpkin) and marron (chestnut). One of the very best squashes for baking and roasting, it is quite aromatic and is chestnut-like in taste.
4 It's fun watching these squash grow from bright yellow blossoms to very diverse sizes and shapes. This one promised to be quite long and decided to grow out in the open.
5 Some of the seeds we used included Homestead Seeds. All of their heirloom, rare, and common seeds are packaged in small clear or amber colored bottles with cork lids.
6 Other seeds on hand included those from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and Franchi Sementi, from Italy.
7 Sperli Samen, from Germany and Gondian, from France
8 Other American companies - Heirloom Seeds, Seed Savers Exchange, and...
9 Johnny's Selected Seeds
10 Kitazawa Seed Company, an American company specializing in Asian vegetables
11 And, of course, my own line of seeds, which are available at The Home Depot!
12 The best time to pick winter squash is at the end of the growing season, when the foliage on the vines begins to wither and turn brown.
13 With most of the foliage gone, the squashes become quite visible.
14 A French pumpkin called Zucca Da Marmellata
15 A green striped variety
16 Five weeks later, that one that was growing out in the open has gotten enormous!
17 Zucca Moscade de Provence
18 A basic pumpkin
19 After harvesting, I was amazed at all the different varieties!
20 We cut each one off its vine using a sharp pair of garden clippers, trying to keep as much of the stem in tack as possible.
21 Many will have to be washed. You can avoid dirt by placing a bed of hay beneath the forming squash. Tsk-tsk, Ryan!
22 Flat pumpkins, like this one, are excellent for cooking purposes. They have a lot of great flavor.
23 Such interesting shapes
24 And so much variation in color
25 The long pinkish one is a banana squash has a superb flavor.
27 Gyurme lined the garden cart with a packing blanket and carefully placed each pumpkin in the cart, never lifting by the stem to avoid breakage.
28 Gyurme liked the straight sides of this pumpkin.
29 The colorful winter squash were delivered to the house, where we washed and arranged them for seasonal decor.
31 We placed them on the wall by the driveway.
32 And also leading to the back door
33 Others were arranged on an outdoor table.
34 And on this cast iron garden rack attached to the house
35 And this one attached to a utility shed
The Home Depot – Martha Stewart Living Seeds
Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Seed Savers Exchange
Johnny’s Selected Seeds
Kitazawa Seed Co.