1 It was time to plant the pumpkin patch, and because pumpkin vines grow rampant throughout the garden, we positioned the patch behind my main greenhouse in a far corner of the farm. My gardener, Wilmer, tilled the soil and created "pumpkin hills", or mounds, where the pumpkin and squash seeds would be planted.
2 A pumpkin patch needs to be in an area that receives at least six-hours of full sun - the more sun, the better. It should also be large enough for all the vines to sprawl.
3 Wilmer put down mounds of good compost and aged manure. Pumpkins are planted in "hills" to allow the soil to warm more quickly, while encouraging the seeds to germinate faster.
4 The soil must be thoroughly warmed to at least 70-degrees Fahrenheit. Pumpkins are very sensitive to the cold.
5 To make the rows look tidy, Wilmer used his feet to measure equal amounts of space between all the mounds. Each mound should be at least six to eight feet from the next on all sides.
6 We chose a large variety of seeds for this year's crop. Wyatt’s Wonder pumpkins are specially bred decorative pumpkins. They reach about 70 to 150 pounds and boast a globe-shaped, deeply lobed size and deep-orange color. http://www.reneesgarden.com
7 Cinderella’s Carriage is another decorative pumpkin. Characteristically a “magical” pink-red color, with a yellow sweet and nutty flesh. The trailing vines produce about five to seven fruits, which will range from 25 to 35 pounds each.
8 The Greek Sweet Red is a winter squash. When planting, give these squash some space to grow - they have unwieldy vines that will try to take over other plants. The flesh is deep orange and has a rich, sweet flavor. It's great for baking and can even be a substitute for, or a sweet addition to, pumpkin pie. http://sowtrueseed.com
9 This wonderful heirloom squash variety, Delicata Bush, has a sweet and nutty flavor with creamy skin and dark, green stripes. They weigh about two-pounds each, and are great to add in soups.
10 If you have a small garden, this Table Queen Bush acorn is a great winter squash to grow. Its compact bush plants grow 36-inches in diameter with three to eight fruits per plant. As with all winter squash, when these are ripe, the fruits will have hard outer shells. Eaten, these provide good sources of vitamins A, C and B, plus potassium and manganese.
11 Long Island Cheese pumpkins grow to about six to 10 pounds each. They get its name by the flat, lightly ribbed shape and light color. It's great for use in pies.
12 Kakai are medium-small, black-striped pumpkins that look beautiful on display. The best part of this particular pumpkin is the seeds, which are hull-less and absolutely delicious when roasted.
13 Lumina pumpkins are perfect for both painting and carving! This ghostly white variety weighs 10 to 12 pounds when ready to harvest. It has delicious orange flesh and stores well through the season.
14 These pumpkins have a heavily lobed and ribbed, flat shape. The skin takes on a brown, green, or orange color and has deep orange, thick flesh. The fruits are commonly found in southern French fall markets, and are liked for their full bodied flavor.
15 Native Americans always favored this open-pollinated Bushel gourd variety for use as storage containers. The flattened bowl shaped gourd can grow up to 20-inches in diameter. They are excellent for use in craft projects.
16 Autumn Wings is an ornamental assortment of deeply winged, and warted gourds that have long necks. This mix also shows off vibrant colors wherever they're displayed. http://www.seedsavers.org
17 The Ten Commandments gourd is also known as the Crown of Thorns for its 10-fingers. These gourds are decorative, brightly colored and striped. When planted, keep them spaced in hills one-foot in diameter, and about six-feet apart in all directions.
18 Galeux d'Eysines squash is a beautiful heirloom. The flattened, round 10 to 15 pound fruit is colored salmon peach and covered in large warts. The sweet, orange flesh is loved for baking as well as for use in French soups.
19 Dinosaur gourds are very fun to grow because of their beautiful long "dinosaur-like" necks and textured bodies. They were often used by Cherokee Indians to decorate sweat lodges. They grow up to 18 to 24 inches long and are dark green in color.
20 This mix of gourds is colorful and heavily warted. Each fruit is about three to four ounces at harvest. The collection contains both double colored and multicolored varieties. They all have sturdy stems and store well for the season.
21 This variety of pumpkin, Shishigatani, is one of the kyo yasai, or traditional vegetables, in the Kyoto region. It's commonly used in shojin ryori, a type of vegetarian cooking prepared by Buddhist priests. The skin of the Shishigatani is distinctly ribbed and warted. It is ripe for picking when the skin turns light brown. http://www.kitazawaseed.com
22 These Carnival F1 squash are also called Multicolor Sweet Dumpling for their small shapes. Each fruit averages up to one and a half pounds. They develop colors dependent on the weather - green tones are caused by hot weather, while yellow and orange tones are caused by cooler weather. http://www.naturalgardening.com
23 This family heirloom, Thelma Sanders Sweet Potato squash is a small acorn type fruit that grows up to six-inches long. It ripens from a rich cream color to a light gold. Thick, golden yellow flesh with a fine texture, and superb flavor makes this a popular variety. http://www.southernexposure.com/
24 These pale yellow Spaghetti squash fruits break up into spaghetti-like strands when cooked. The tasty flesh is often used like pasta, topped with a favorite sauce. Spaghetti squash contains many nutrients including folic acid, potassium, vitamin-A and beta carotene.
25 Thai Kang winter squash fruits have thin, edible skins, which make peeling unnecessary. They taste a bit stronger than moschata squash, but grow weak and are resistant to Downy mildew. They produce flattened, ribbed six to eight pound fruits that turn from green to tan in storage.
26 These small Baby Blue Hubbard squash, which weigh about six-pounds each at harvest, are easy to store and make an excellent, sweet addition to any savory dish. Inside the light blue shell is a fine-grained, yellow-gold flesh. http://irisheyesgardenseeds.com
27 Atlantic Giant pumpkins are often grown for competitions, but can be used in the same way as regular pumpkins. They can grow up to 400-pounds, but will normally stay around 50 to 100-pounds. They display a pale orange or cream rind, and can occasionally be brighter orange if exposed to excessive sun.
28 This New England Blue Hubbard squash is the teardrop-shaped big brother to the Baby Blue Hubbard Squash. They weigh 15 to 40-pounds each, and can keep for long periods of time in storage. Their sweet flesh is great for use in pies and soup.
29 This Howden pumpkin is great for home gardeners. It is easy to grow and consistently provides high yields of 20 to 25-pound pumpkins that are smooth skinned, tall in shape, and very popular for carving.
30 Montana Jack pumpkins are superb fruits for carving too. The round, Jack-O-lantern pumpkins grow to about eight to 15 pounds. This variety is also great for making pies.
31 You can also save pumpkin seeds from a favorite Jack-o-lantern and try to grow them at home the next year. After removing the seeds from a fresh pumpkin, just rinse them, air dry them and store them in a cold, dry place until planting season. I saved these seeds from a Giant White pumpkin. The Great White pumpkin is a beautiful, smooth-skinned, white pumpkin that can grow as large a 90-pounds. It is sometimes called the Full Moon pumpkin due to its shape and color.
32 This Kabak squash is native to Turkey, and is cooked in the same way as a butternut squash. It can be roasted, pureed, or even candied, as is common in Turkey, for delicious desserts.
33 This teardrop-shaped, lightly warted Golden Hubbard fruit takes on a brilliant red shade, making this one of the most beautiful of the Hubbard family specimens. Despite being a great addition to fall decorations, the fruit’s thick, sweet, orange flesh has a very traditional squash flavor, and is perfect for soup or stir-fry.
34 Daisy Gourd is a colorful mixture of green, orange, yellow and white shaded fruits, with a unique daisy pattern on top. At harvest, these fruits are about three-inches by three-inches large - perfect for use in a grouping for display. http://www.johnnyseeds.com
35 Butternut Squash is a winter squash. It is rich in fiber, and in vitamins C, A and E. Butternut Squash has the same sweet, nutty taste as pumpkins, and becomes sweeter and richer as the fruit ripens. They are smooth-textured, light tan in color, with small seed cavities and thick cylindrical necks without crooks.
36 These small, green Shokichi Green fruits with lighter stripes make great single serving squash. They have a nice flavor and texture. They also work well in a group displayed decoratively on a table.
37 Kabocha Squash is often called Japanese pumpkin and has a moist fluffy flesh, with a sweet and strong flavor. It is a sweeter alternative to butternut squash and has the combined texture of a pumpkin and sweet potato. In Japanese cuisine, it is common to find Kabocha in vegetable tempura and soup.
38 Casey helped plant this year's seeds. Pumpkins prefer rich soil that is well-drained and not soggy. Be sure to mix a good amount of compost and aged manure into the planting site before sowing the seeds. Pumpkins do best when the seeds are planted directly into the ground.
39 Check your seeds - be sure they are not hollow, or old - they should be firm and evenly colored without blotches or discolored patches that could indicate disease. Choose seeds that have also been air dried instead of oven dried, which could remove too much of the seed's natural moisture.
40 Plant about five seeds per hill, with each about an inch to an inch and a half deep into the mound.
41 Space the seeds at least six to eight inches apart. Pumpkins require between 100 and 140 days of growth before they're ripe for picking.
42 Seed orientation makes no difference to germination or growth. The important thing is to keep them consistently moist. Pumpkins are 80 to 90-percent water depending on the variety, and adequate moisture is crucial for healthy, productive plants.