My last post was about the denizens growing in my pumpkin patch. Now, I can write you about the harvest. I still have one large orange pumpkin on the vine, and two embryos actually got fertilized about a week ago-who knows if they’ll make it. However, most of the others are now decorating my house!
Number One Son is here in the living room, decorated appropriately for Halloween. He may not be the biggest of the family, but he’s the brave first to be fertilized and survive. He’s right next to the television, so we can see him all the time.
Here is Number Two Son on the dining room table-another place that we spend a lot of time. He’s a bit bigger than his elder brother, and he is strong and handsome. You can also see he shares the table with a lovely striped gourd. Each of these was the only survivor on its respective vine, but both do the mother plant proud. They certainly fit nicely with the Halloween decorations, don’t they?
And speaking of handsome gourds in the dining room, here’s this gorgeous melange of orange and green. He’s a perfect fall color! The first gourd on his vine grew for a while, but didn’t make it. This chap grew up next, initially hanging from the fence where the vine had climbed. His healthy form soon brought the vine down to earth. Beautiful color and shape, wouldn’t you say?
I have already harvested three more orange pumpkins. I suspect they are sugar pumpkins, but they are just too pretty to eat. Two of them, I have put by the fireplace with a white pumpkin and a green striped one. I think they make a neat combo. How about you?
The white pumpkin was actually attacked by a grub and has a hole in it, but a little peroxide seems to have ended the invasion. I put the side with no wounding out to face the world. Good-sized guy, isn’t it? When we harvested it, we found it also had a local root coming off the stem. I guess that’s how it got enough nutrition to grow this big.
There’s also this good sized pumpkin or squash that’s green with stripes. I don’t know what kind it is, but it sure is pretty. Does anyone out there know? I’d love to hear from you so I could find out what I have. I wonder if there was some cross pollination that created a hybrid?
Remember the runaway/escapee? That pumpkin grew into a real beauty. There’s even an almost bluish cast to it’s white skin. Is this a Lumina or is it another breed of pumpkin?
Last but not least, remember I said I’d harvested three orange pumpkins? Well, the third one is not on display at home. Instead, I brought it to the grave of my favorite actor, Claude Rains and left it as a token of esteem. Presents you work to create yourself are usually the best!
I was surprised to realize recently that I have been growing pumpkins for almost thirty years! And it all started by accident. One early summer afternoon, when I lived in Connecticut, I was sitting in my yard under some shady trees with a friend, when I noticed we had these big orange flowers growing in the composting area. I had no clue what they were. When I asked my friend, she said they looked like squash flowers-but I hadn’t planted any squash seeds. Yang was away in China visiting his family, but when he checked in with me by phone, he said those were probably from the Halloween pumpkins we’d put in with the compost last fall. He told me to check for a bump under some of the flowers, which I sure enough found: embryos on the female flowers. I even learned how to pollinate the female with male flowers. Happily, we ended up with some giant pumpkins for Halloween that fall. My pumpkin growing with Yang was off to a successful start!
Eventually, we had to re-purpose that area, but we created another pumpkin garden next to the house. They loved it there! We had gourds, pumpkins, decorative squash and even hulu! You can see how the vines spread out and took over. The land was so rich we had the best of luck growing. You can also see that in my thirties, I was a natural blonde-just saying.
When we moved to Auburn, we had a lot of land, but not all of it was good for growing vegetables. Still, after the first year, we did get some nice pumpkins and gourds, as well as other veggies (peppers, tomatoes, eggplants, soy beans, corn). However, the earth in the first garden we had started to wear out after almost twenty years. About three years ago, we got NO pumpkins or gourds. Yang decided to do something.
He developed a circular garden in the middle of our large lawn, filling it with lots of good earth and cow manure. Last year, we got plenty of veggies and some outstanding pumpkins and gourds. One white pumpkin is still whole and unrotted over a whole year later. Of course, Yang also circled the garden with a fence and chicken wire at the bottom to keep out the critters. This year he expanded the garden and replaced about six inches of bad earth with cow manure and good soil. Boy did we do well with eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and PUMPKINS!
Here’s Number 1 Son, the first pumpkin to get fertilized (thanks to me), as well as the first pumpkin to be picked. He’s not the biggest, but your first born is always special. He came off the vine of some seedlings that we bought.
We also have a sister to last year’s big white pumpkin. I think this one might even grow to be bigger than last year’s. This pumpkin grew from seeds that I saved from an early pumpkin. When I buy pumpkins for decoration, I always look for good “breeding stock” from which I save the seeds for growing the next generation.
I’m not sure what the heck this one is. It’s green with stripes. I don’t remember buying seeds or saving any that looked like this one, so it’s probably some kind of hybrid. If anyone recognizes the type, please let me know. Maybe it’s part squash?
We bought a bunch of pumpkin seedlings from Howe’s in Paxton, and I also planted seeds from previous years’ pumpkins of a similar variety. I did plant the seedlings and the seeds in different quadrants, but the vines just went wild, so it’s hard to tell which is the source for these beautiful orange pumpkins. this one, I can trace back to a seedling, but the others are hard to tell.
Some of the plants are more adventurous than others. This guy snaked through the fence and is now growing wild and free (and subject to rabbits and ground hogs) in the yard. What a rebel!
As you may have noticed, we have some sunflowers in this garden. I successfully planted delphinium and bachelor buttons, then said, “What the hey!” and dropped in two sunflower seeds. We’d had a mammoth sunflower that I bought last year, towering about seven feet. Well, one of my seeds (either from a package or that sunflower) has shot way up. Here it is next to me (I’m 5’3″) for scale. So, I hope your growing season this year, despite the drought, was as successful as ours!