Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, February 05, 2018

Harvested Heirloom Pumpkin/Squash and Around The Garden.

Dear Folks,

I finally harvested my "Upper Ground Sweet Potato Pumpkin" and the results are in.

First - Mark your Calendars for March 3rd.  My Next Seed Share is March 3rd.  I will be bringing my Seed Bank, details to be announced.  We have not decided yet on a late morning or early afternoon time slot.  This is a free event, you are welcome to bring your own harvested seeds or heirloom non-GMO purchased ones to swap.

Back to the Pumpkin.  I first read about this winter squash several years ago and my first planting a year ago, did not produce any.  This past summer I planted out on July 5th and the vine took off like a rocket, but the flowers were not pollinated until September.  Happens sometimes, when the Cucurbitaceae Family (squash, melons, gourds, cucumbers etc.) puts out a ton of male flowers first to attract the pollinators and the female flowers sort-of lope along later.

Watching the fruit get bigger and bigger I was excited that I might actually get a harvestable fruit for Thanksgiving, then Christmas and past New Year and the fruit was still showing a lot of green.  I should have measured the circumference instead of just the width, but it came in at about 12 inches across and weighed 11.4 pounds.

The taste of this squash was supposed to be close to a Sweet Potato in flavor and was grown in historic gardens including Thomas Jefferson's Monticello.  For a while you could get the seeds from the Monticello store and you may wish to check that out, however, I was able to get seeds from Baker Creek, AND I will have seeds at the Seed Share in March 3rd.

This is a very hard shelled fruit with an open cavity as you can see by the picture and I pulled a generous amount of seeds and pulp from the whole thing.

While I composted the pulp, I recommend you check out ways to use this edible "pulp" of the pumpkin, The Kitchn suggests, making soup stock out of it along with other vegetable parings, puree (without the seeds) and use to make pumpkin bread, or juice them.

I rinsed then dried the seeds, and as I mentioned, I will have some at the Seed Share on March 3rd.  I put a plate together to show you the viable seed vs. the non-viable.  Basically you want to look for a plump seed with well-defined edges.  Sorry the picture is not clear enough, the glare from the seeds makes the flattened, almost transparent aspect of the non-viable seed not show well..

Even with the open cavity of this type of fruit, there is a lot of it.

I cut off a portion and  baked.  400 degrees for 60-90 minutes to fork-tender.  It took right at 85 minutes or so to be able to easily put the fork through the skin.  Cooled it was then easy to scrap the the fruit from the skin.  I chose not to oil or season, so I had options on how to use the squash.  I had made chili so I cut up the squash and a cooked potato and served my chili over this.  A nice combination of the slightly sweet squash with the spices of the chili.

TASTE results.  This is really more squash than pumpkin but with a lighter squash texture than say banana squash, and not as sweet as banana or pumpkin.


I would grow again, HOWEVER  I am planning on sowing the seeds in Late May this time.  I think the warm fall may have delayed the ripening, because from the approximate date of pollination this fruit took about 4 months to get to harvest stage.  I was in contact with Baker Creek about the harvest stage and they recommended to not pick too early, which confirmed my thoughts, so I just waited, and waited and waited. :-)

Pictured is the vine September 15th, and it tripled in size eventually.  (That is Daisy Mae my Flying Pig - a gift from a friend :-)

The flowers by the way are really big, easily 5-6 inches across, so if you choose to grow this squash, I recommend you harvest some of the male flowers for use.

Around The Rest of The Garden

Johnny Jump Ups are starting in the lawn for my annual lawn of flowers to come later.

This annual display later on is beloved by us and family and friends.

The potato plants are sprouting.  I need to add more leaf mulch.  I am changing out some of the planting sites for potatoes and sweet potatoes.  Moving things around in the garden is a good thing.

The Purple Tree Collard in the greenhouse is loving it, so I moved the other one in there also.  This one was "looking" like it was all dying back and then I noticed first a couple of "bumps" at the base and now this bigger set of leaf stems coming along nicely.  I'm really excited to try this "green" in the garden to add to my supply of greens through the year and hoping I find their happy spot for growing happily through the heat of the summer.

My garlic both standard and elephant are growing nicely, but I am anxious about the warm weather.  Last year our winter was so mild the garlic never formed the heads we look for, so I'm hoping for one good chill before spring actually hits.  Watching the birds being "frisky" I'm not sure we will get a chill. They may know something we don't.

Finally, I used some of my harvested Roselle petals to make a green tea/Roselle Sun Tea and if it was done, I added some honey to the strained tea while it was still warm from the sun, shook a couple of times and Chilled it for the next day when I had a friend over for lunch out on the patio to enjoy the nice weather and a glass of cold sun tea from the garden.

I used organic green tea as a base frequently for sun tea.  In this nice 80-ish degree weather it takes about 6-7 hours of "sunning" to produce a nice flavor. FYI NEVER add any sugar, honey or other sweetener to the jar, as you can create mold.  Dried or fresh herbs like stevia for sweetness are okay as long as you rinse them well.  If my allergies are acting up I will through in sprigs of thyme.

There are still a few days left of my SURVEY, in the upper side bar here on the blog.  I appreciate the feedback, thank you.

You can find my calendars and books (most are available in both print and PDF form) at My Publisher's site.

I am taking a break for a few day, be back next weekend.

Have a great week in the garden and kitchen!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady

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