How to grow a great pumpkin even if you aren’t Charlie Brown

May 20, 2009


I’ve had challenges as a grower of pumpkins. Last year, despite planting seedlings from an entire packet of heirloom seeds, I only got one (albeit a beauty) pumpkin for my troubles. That’s it pictured above. Lovely, isn’t it?

This spring I started pumpkin seedlings in my little greenhouse only to have each of the sturdy stalks that popped up die over night when I transplanted them to larger pots. It was a sad morning.

So, given my lackluster track record, I’m trying something new with the two new packets of seeds I bought last weekend. I read an article in Grow Magazine about planting squash and, knowing that pumpkins are a type of squash, I’m following their instructions. My hope is that I can, with good luck, create a vision of spooky splendour this Halloween using my own crop.

Here’s what the article suggested:

1. Make a mound of dirt in the sunniest part of the garden. (check!)
2. Dig a hole in the centre of the mound and sink a plastic nursery pot into the hole. Back fill around it so that the empty pot is submerged in the soil. (check!)
3. Plant the pumpkin seeds around the submerged pot as directed on the package. (check!)

What’s the purpose? Well, you can add water to the submerged pots and water the roots of the plants more effectively!

Will it work? Only time will tell. At this point I don’t even have sprouts showing but I’ll be sure to get back to you as the season progresses.

Do you have any pumpkin patch tips for me?

Pumpkin flans

December 16, 2008


You could say that I love pumpkin pie but the truth is that I love pumpkin pie filling. In fact, I love it so much that one year when I was baking pumpkin pies for a charity pie auction, I made not just an extra pie for my own family but another so that I could go on an all-day pumpkin pie diet. Honest.

As if that story even needs a punch line, when I told my then 7-year-old son that mommy was on the all pie diet, he rolled his eyes and said “pie-yi yi!” Yeah, he was born snarky and sarcastic.

Anyhow, once I realized that I was actually fonder of pumpkin pie filling than actual pumpkin pie, I decided that there was no need to make pastry. So, now I cook up pumpkin filling in a bain marie so that I can indulge anytime. This technique also works well as a single-serve dessert for the holidays. To glam them up a bit for Christmas dinner, I’d chill these flans down in the refrigerator and then drizzle with dark chocolate before serving them in their ramekins to be eaten with spoons. Festive flavours and make-ahead convenience.

Watching the pumpkin turn orange

September 26, 2008

Wow! Looking back over this week’s posts, I see that I’ve turned into a grocery concierge or something. Fortunately, your wallets are safe with today’s post since it’s all about my pumpkin.

That’s right. This crop has produced a singular fruit. As in one lone pumpkin. Oliver and I planted a lot of pumpkin seeds and transferred three sturdy plants out to the garden in spring but alas, only one plant survived (and thrived) and it only produced one pumpkin. But what a pumpkin it is – behold its long faced future jack-o-lantern’s beauty!

Who could ask for more? Certainly not I!

Now I just need to keep it safe until Halloween. Any advice? Should we leave the pumpkin on the vine? Or, should I cut it off and put it in the cold cellar? Your advice is appreciated.