Updated: Feb 18, 2022
Pumpkin seeds are one of the last seeds to be planted in the garden. They are big ones. Very satisfying to plant. I learned a method from my neighbor in the community garden: “Dig your pumpkin a pot,” she said, “and fill it with good soil”. So we dug “pots” for four pumpkin plants this year and filled them with a mixture of garden soil and compost. Then we planted three New England Pie Pumpkin seeds in each hole, for good measure. We watered. We waited.
Here you can see some healthy pumpkin plants mid summer. Our pumpkin patch was in a very weedy area this year, so I covered the area surrounding it with cardboard and layered on mulch. I rescued the sunflower in the middle of the patch from the path and replanted it there. I hoped a pumpkin might grow up it, but not luck this year.
Weeds grow first (You can see how we dealt with our weeds in this earlier post). 2021 was a good year for weeds. Not a great year for pumpkins. Out of the twelve seeds we planted, we ended up with five or six plants. After the vine borers and the squash bugs, we were down to two pumpkin plants. I sliced open the vines, removed the vine borers (nasty grubby things, but the chickens loved them) and filled the cuts with mud, like my neighbor taught me. We crunched the squash bugs, because even chickens won’t eat them.
My husband has a wonderful titanium spork that is perfect for digging all the pulp and seeds out of pumpkins and squash and such. My daughter helped me sort the seeds.
After a couple of months, though, we had seven medium-sized pie pumpkins and a few smaller ones, all ready to harvest. Our kids and few neighborhood friends headed over with the clippers and came back with their arms loaded with pumpkins. They carved a couple, but most sat on my counter for weeks, looking festive and very in the way.
You need to stab the pumpkin skins with a fork or knife before you roast them. It’s very therapeutic. I have many cubes of frozen pumpkin now to use all year long.
Yesterday I cut them up into big pieces (skin on), scraped out the seeds (to save and to roast) and pulp (to give the chickens) and roasted them at 400 degrees for forty minutes or so. The house smelled satisfactorily like fall. After they cooled, I peeled the skin off and put them in the compost. I dumped the pulp into the chicken tractor and returned to the kitchen to puree the flesh into pumpkin puree. I froze most of it in my Souper Cubes, but kept some out to make muffins and pancakes.
Homemade pumpkin pie is a true luxury on a chilly November day.
On Thanksgiving, I’ll thaw that pumpkin, mix it with spices and a bit of sugar, and bake it into a pie to share with my family. It’s not a quick process, turning a pumpkin seed into a pumpkin pie. It’s a lot easier to run to the store and buy a pre-made pie in a plastic tin and toss it away. But I like to do things the hard way. I like to wait, to watch, to work.