Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pumpkin shenanigans

Every year I plant pumpkins with grand schemes of raising a thousand plus pounder for the fair. Visions of blue ribbons and that $100 prize money consume my common sense and lead to me planting 3/4 of our backyard in pumpkins. Every summer I lovingly tend them, catering to their every whim, chasing the bugs from their leaves and making sure my special organic compost tea infused watering system is working 100% properly. 

Actually I mostly ignore them in favor of Star Trek reruns.

The result of my neglect is a yard full of 4-8 pound pumpkins that thoroughly shame their 500 pound parents. Given that all those in the know swear pumpkin seeds are a natural livestock wormer, it isn't a total loss. Do they really work as a wormer? I have no clue, but I've never met a critter who didn't love pumpkins so if the pumpkin eating orgy going on in my back yard now is also resulting in the purging of parasites, I'll consider it icing.

Cochie Mama chows down
This year I planted 4 Jack 'o Lantern type pumpkins (Howden), 4 Cinderella type pumpkins (Musquee de provence), 2 pie pumpkins (New England Sugar) and 4 mini pumpkins (Jack Be Little). Thanks to heat, neglect, lack of water, and laziness on my part, I wound up with:
0 Howden
2 Musquee de Provence (one was stunted and deformed so really, just 1)
14 New England Sugar Pie
56 Jack Be Little

I probably had a lot more of the mini pumpkins, but the vines in the front yard wound up overtaking the entire bed and running into the driveway. I didn't keep track of how many the Mr. ran over every morning as he left for work, or the ones my neighbor's kids swiped to throw at passing cars.

My Runaway Jack Be Little Pumpkin Vines

See those branches sticking out there on the left side? Those aren't sneaky weeds, those are desperate rose canes trying to get a little sunlight. The first time I planted Jack Be Little the vines were as miniature as the pumpkins. I must have gotten some seeds on steroids this time. The upside is that my roses hated that spot anyway because of the wind and I'd planned to relocate them this winter. The pumpkin vine gave them protection and believe it or not, they bloomed underneath all that!

From a survival standpoint, I'd go with the mini jacks. Sure they're small, but they thrived where others died. Properly hardened off and stored in a cool, dry location, they'll easily last the entire winter. The only drawback as far as feeding them to animals is the rind gets so hard you'll need a hacksaw to bust into it.

Next up was the New England Sugar Pie, but they took up a crapload of room, and while the minis suffered no ill effects from being denied the ability to root along their vines, I'm not sure the NESPs would fare as well. If any regular size pumpkin can grow vertical though, it's them thanks to their mad crazy thick stems. I may give them a vertical try next year. Having stored them in a cabinet in the kitchen two years ago, I already know they'll last 4-6 months... probably longer but I didn't have any left after 6 months.

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