Every June, my gardeners and I plant lots and lots of pumpkin seeds - many from our favorite seed companies, and some from interesting and tasty fruits I’ve enjoyed over the years. Pumpkins grow on vines, which means they take up a lot of space. I always plant my pumpkin patch in a roomy bed that can accommodate a large crop of big, colorful specimens. As you know, this year, I decided the patch would be planted down by the vegetable gardens.
Most varieties take between 90 and to 120 days to grow. We still have a few weeks to wait, but everything is growing so nicely, I wanted to share a few photos with you - enjoy.
I recently visited the pumpkin patch to check on its progress. This year, our pumpkin, winter squash and ornamental gourd crops were planted adjacent to the chicken yard. This summer has been warm, and dry – perfect for pumpkins.
The pumpkin patch was filled with long vines, and beautiful autumn fruits, including traditional orange pumpkins for Halloween. It is still too early to harvest, but everything looks so great!
It is time to harvest when the vines and leaves start to wither and die back – these need another four to six weeks.
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.
We planted our pumpkin patch on June 9th this year.
We always spread hay mulch around the patch – it enhances the look of the garden, avoids muddiness in the paths, keeps the pumpkins off the earth, and most importantly, enriches the soil.
By mid-July, the vines were well-established.
The vines grew very quickly.
And by the end of July, there was evidence of growth.
Such tiny cucurbits!
And this is what they looked like yesterday! Underneath all the sprawling vines, we saw lots of beautiful varieties of pumpkins and winter squash.
They come in so many shapes, sizes, and colors.
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.
We get our seeds from various seed companies, but I also save seeds from specimens I’ve enjoyed over the years.
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. These will be so delicious when they’re ready.
The skin should be dull and matte. Shiny skin on squash may indicate it still needs time to mature.
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 – except Antarctica.
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.
A famous French heirloom variety, the name of Squash ‘Potimarron’ comes from potiron meaning “pumpkin” and marron meaning “chestnut”. Squash ‘Potimarron’ is one of the very best for baking and roasting.
‘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.
It’s important to leave a generous stem, also called a handle, when picking. I believe this helps them last longer.
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.
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.
Gourds also come in unique shapes, including this one with a long neck and warts.
A gourd is a plant of the family Cucurbitaceae, particularly Cucurbita and Lagenaria or the fruit of the two genera of Bignoniaceae “calabash tree”, Crescentia and Amphitecna. The term refers to a number of species and subspecies, many with hard shells, and some without.
Many of our gourds are even growing outside the fence, suspended from their long vines which have creeped through the wire. It will be a wonderful harvest this season!