1 My head gardener, Ryan McCallister, and I visited the pumpkin patch and saw that the foliage on the vines had begun to wither and turn brown - the sign the pumpkins were ready to harvest.
2 Pumpkins, winter squash and other cucurbits, grow on long, sprawling vines which cover the ground. With most of the foliage gone, the pumpkins were quite visible, which made the task a little easier.
3 Ryan carefully snipped the pumpkins from the vines with pruning sheers. It's important to leave a stem. Leaving at least a couple of inches of stem will increase its keeping time.
4 Butternut squash is one of the most popular varieties. This is a cousin, a Honeynut squash - same delicious butternut flavor in a smaller package.
5 The name pumpkin comes from the Greek word 'pepon' which means large melon. The pumpkin is a cucurbit, a member of the Curcurbitaceae family, which also includes squash, cucumbers, watermelon and cantaloupes.
6 There are so many different varieties - some bright yellow with smooth outer skins, and others dark green with a more textured exterior. The yellow is a spaghetti winter squash, and above it is a winter squash called 'Thai Kang Kob'.
7 Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.
8 Pumpkins are a good source of nutrition. They are low in calories, fat and sodium and high in fiber. Plus, they are loaded with vitamins A and B and potassium.
9 The 'Montana Jack' pumpkin is great choice for carving. And, Halloween is just around the corner.
10 Kabocha is an Asian variety of winter squash, Cucurbita maxima. It becomes extra creamy when cooked, so it is perfect for soups.
11 The cream colored 'Thelma Sanders' sweet potato squash is an heirloom acorn-type variety that is tender, sweet and quite delicious. The green is called 'Thai Rai Kaw Tok' and is rich, slightly spicy and is well-suited for Asian cooking.
12 'Autumn Wings' gourds, Cucurbita pepo, is a collection of brightly colored ornamental gourds. They come in a mix of shapes and are perfect for Halloween decorating.
13 The colors can range from cream and yellow to green and bicolored.
14 Gourds also come in unique shapes, including this one with a long, crooked neck and warts.
15 The Ten Commandments gourd is also known as the 'crown of thorns' for its 10-fingers. These gourds are decorative, brightly colored and striped.
16 A wonderful collection of Honeynut squash.
17 I am always glad when I have time to do some of the harvesting myself.
18 Winter squash have thick, tough shells that protect the sweet, rich tasting flesh inside. Always pick winter squash that's heavy for its size. The stem should also be intact, firm and dry.
19 Always choose winter squash that is rich and deep in color. The skin should be dull and matte. Shiny skin on squash may indicate it still needs time to mature.
20 Blue hubbard squash is known by its size, unique shape and blue-gray color. It also has a very hard skin which makes it especially long lasting in winter storage. The meat inside is orange, sweet and fine grained.
21 As we harvested the fruits, we placed them on the side of the pumpkin patch - look how many we collected.
22 Here was a grouping of kobacha squash, spaghetti squash and 'Thelma Sanders' squash.
23 The perimeter of our pumpkin patch was filled with beautiful autumn fruits, including traditional orange pumpkins for Halloween.
24 While we were harvesting, our feline friend, Blackie, came by for a visit.
25 In just a short amount of time, the Kawasaki was filled with a variety of pumpkins, winter squash and ornamental gourds.
26 I just love the beautiful striped varieties. Squash have been grown in North America for 5000-years. They are indigenous to the western hemisphere but today are grown all over the world.
27 Tough skinned winter squash can last several months in storage as long as the fruits are protected from cuts, scrapes and dents, and are kept in a cool, dry room with good air circulation.
28 Our harvest was brought down to the stable where Fernando carefully washed each one.
29 It will be so much fun to decorate with this year's harvest. Happy autumn!