1 Ryan prepared all the seeds and markers for our new pumpkin patch. We always use seeds from various seed companies, and seeds I save from interesting or tasty pumpkins I've enjoyed.
2 After the garden bed was tilled, Wilmer put down mounds of good aged manure. The soil must be thoroughly warmed to at least 70-degrees Fahrenheit - pumpkins are very sensitive to the cold.
3 Ryan placed upside down pots in rows to mark where seeds would be planted.
4 Dawa takes apart flakes of old hay and spreads a thin layer of it all around the bed and the pots.
5 Hay mulch enhances the look of the garden, avoids muddiness in the paths, keeps the pumpkins off the earth, and most importantly, enriches the soil.
6 These round "soil spots" are the perfect size for planting the pumpkin seeds.
7 Pumpkins are planted in "hills" to allow the soil to warm more quickly, while encouraging the seeds to germinate faster. Ryan adds compost to each soil "circle", building mounds for the seeds.
8 I call our compost "black gold" - aged and filled with nutrients.
9 These small hills are now ready for planting.
10 Do you know the difference between hay and straw? Hay refers to grass that has been cut while green, dried, and made into bales. When hay decomposes it adds nutrients to the soil to increase fertility. Straw is the stalk of a cereal crop such as oats, barley, wheat, or rye after harvesting has removed the seed heads. Always use salt hay, not feed hay, for your gardens.
11 Pumpkins do best when the seeds are planted directly into the ground. Pumpkins prefer rich soil that is well-drained and not soggy.
12 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.
13 Plant about five seeds per hill, with each about an inch to an inch and a half deep into the mound.
14 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.
16 Some of the pumpkin seeds we planted include 'Polar Bear', an extra large white pumpkin. It retains its color after maturity in the field, at market, and in decorative displays.
17 'Baby Bear' is the perfect mini-pumpkin for kids. It's a unique size and shape, and the deep orange, two-pound fruits are about half the size of a normal pie pumpkin.
18 'Munchkin' pumpkins are highly-productive, and great for decorating - they are bright orange with deep ribs.
19 The 'Musque de Provence' pumpkin is a southern France mainstay. Ribbed, flat, tan fruits are bigger than Long Island cheese pumpkins and average about eight to 15-pounds each.
20 'Triamble' pumpkins are unusual, triangular, blue-skinned fruits weighing up to 12-pounds each.
21 'Speckled Hound' pumpkins are orange with green splotches. They also have yellow-orange, thick, dense flesh and weigh up to eight-pounds each.
22 'Porcelain Doll' is a pink pumpkin with intermediate resistance to powdery mildew. Its sweet flesh can be used for pies, soups, and other gourmet treats.
23 'Naples Long' is an eye-catching, large heirloom variety. Peanut-shaped, these fruits can weigh 20-50 pounds each. The skin is a deep green that turns tan in storage. The flesh is bright orange, and the flavor is superb - rich and very sweet.
24 'Autumn Crown' is a miniature Long Island cheese type pumpkin with excellent eating quality. Internal color is bright orange with a small seed cavity. Fruits have the aroma of sweet melon when cut.
25 'Sunlight' is a true yellow pumpkin - weighing about four to six pounds each.
26 'Wee-B-Little' is a tiny, round pumpkin. Each is about the size of a baseball, weighing up to 15-ounces. It has a slightly flat-round shape like a normal pumpkin with a bright orange rind that's smooth enough for painting.
27 'Hooligan' pumpkins are early mini pumpkins with white, green, and orange mottled color and deeply ribbed with long, dark green handles that are strongly attached. Hooligan has an excellent sweet pumpkin flavor which is slightly nutty. The flesh is orange and smooth - perfect for stuffing or for using as a soup bowl.
28 'Rival' pumpkins are big, round, medium-sized jack-o'-lantern type pumpkins with intermediate resistance to powdery mildew.
29 'Howden' pumpkins are standard large pumpkins. Developed by John Howden of Massachusetts in the early 1970s, it defined "the look" in big Halloween pumpkins - deep orange color, defined ribs, and good handles.
30 'Cargo' pumpkins are robust hybrid fruits with strong handles and beautiful rich orange color.
31 'Tom Fox' was developed by New Hampshire farmer, Tom Fox. The well-ribbed, medium large pumpkins have a deep orange color and good handles: fat, long, dark green, and strong.
32 'Expert' pumpkins have a rounder, broader shape, and a deep orange color and big, dark green handles.
33 'Champion' is a great pumpkin for making big jack-o'-lantern.
Typically more than 30-pounds each, this fruit is well ribbed, with thick, medium length handles and an upright shape.
34 'Rock Star' is big, bright and a vigorous grower. It has a blocky, upright shape with a rich orange color and dark green handle.
35 'Orange Smoothie' makes a nice painted pumpkin. It is bright orange, smooth, non ribbed, and round - each averaging up to nine-pounds.
36 'Montana Jack' was created by famed plant breeder, John Navazio. It's perfect for carving and for use in pies.
37 'Cinderella's Carriage' is a bright reddish-orange pumpkin. It's a robust and vigorous grower weighing up to 25-pounds each.
The flesh is yellow, sweet and has a nutty flavor.
38 'Wyatt's Wonder' is the most beautiful exhibition pumpkin you can find, reaching 70-150 pounds. It is globe-shaped, deeply lobed, and deep-orange in color.