Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mysterious things growing in my garden

Our garden has been a little haphazard this year, but I'm proud because we actually HAVE one. This spring we had lots of greens, and this summer we've gotten tons of tomatoes (all volunteer plants that survived the compost process, no less). However, we had one odd plant that I could NOT figure out what it was.

Ginormous curcurbit plant that took over half the garden. It kept blooming and blooming but didn't produce any fruit at all.

Eventually it produced two small round green fruits. Hooray! Maybe they were cantaloup? They got bigger and stripey. Watermelon for sure! I couldn't wait for harvest time, and even Googled how to tell when watermelon are ripe.

And then the big one turned orange.

 Yep. I grew a pumpkin. IN JULY.

My experience is limited to pumpkins in the fall. You know, carving at Halloween? Pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving? Pumpkins are NOT supposed to show up in July. Clearly, my haphazard gardening skills are worse than I thought. I mean, we never even planted any pumpkins!

However, I worked hard to grow this pumpkin, so I figured I could can pumpkin puree and save it for the appropriate time. The seeds are edible too, if you roast them. So I spent some more time on Google, this time looking up pumpkins instead of watermelon. It turns out that canning puree is NOT  recommended for pumpkins, because they are very low in acid. You can do it if you have a pressure canner, but I don't have one, so I opted to go with the freezing option. 

 First, I sliced my pumpkin in half so I could remove the seeds. I sort of pulled the seeds out with my hands, leaving the stringy innards in the pumpkin.

 This pumpkin yielded about 1 cup of seeds, but many of the seeds were kind of withered and sad-looking. Not sure if that's normal? 

 Next, I scraped the stringy insides out with a spoon (this much I remember from carving pumpkins). The directions said to peel the rind, so I used a carrot peeler to do that. It worked pretty well!

I chopped the pumpkin up and boiled it until soft. I probably should have used a bigger pot!

 While I was waiting for the pumpkin to boil, I pulled all the strings out of the seeds and washed them several times in a bowl of water. This was actually pretty tedious and took several washings.

 The instructions said to dry your seeds in a warm oven, or with a hair dryer. Or, if you live in central Texas and it's 102 degrees outside (that's 40 for everyone else), just stick them outside on your garden table.

 Dry little seeds, dry! (Naturally, it rained for the first time in six weeks about an hour after I put them out. They are now drying in a warm oven. Sheesh.)

 After the pumpkin had been boiled until soft, we mashed it with a potato masher...

... and finally loaded it into jars to freeze. Notice we left plenty of room at the top (headspace) - this will prevent the jars from cracking as the contents expand during the freezing process.

We are DEFINITELY having pumpkin pie at my house this Thanksgiving!


  1. Awesome! I worked on a produce farm for many years. We had pick your own pumpkins, just like yours!

    Pumpkins are tenacious growers. Literally throw a spent pumpkin in the dirt and the plants will start growing in the next season, so all it took as a seed or two in your compost!

    1. Val, good to know about them being tenacious. The smaller of the two pumpkins literally disappeared while we were on vacation - maybe bugs/birds got to it and it rotted in place? If so, I'm wondering if next year I'll have a dozen vines growing from that spot! Regardless, I'm going to save a few seeds for growing next year. I love pumpkin bread and pies, so it would be nice to have more than just two jars put away!

  2. Very cool. My only successful crop this year is garlic.

    1. Ooooh, garlic. How I love it. How I wish I could grow it! Maybe I'll give it a go next year... but first, I need a bigger garden!

  3. As soon as I saw the plant in the first picture I was like 'yay pumpkin!'
    We have pumpkins pretty much all year round. Our veggie garden is now a pumpkin patch.
    Oh well:) At least we all love pumpkin!

    1. Wow, I should have posted pics of the vine much earlier and the mystery would have been solved! I am no good at discerning between cukes, watermelons, cantaloupes, and (apparently) pumpkin vines - especially when I didn't actually plant any of the above, lol!

      That's cool that you have your very own pumpkin patch. They're delicious!

  4. Replies
    1. Apparently that's normal for this part of the world. Who knew!

  5. Well what a nice pumpkin you got! Pumpkins will ripen early in Texas and other warmer states if they are started early in the spring :O). I learned this myself by accident a couple years ago. We can plant so early here is why. Some people will hold off planting if they are wanting them to ripen in October. I still plant mine early as I want them for eating. I am going to can mine. I will can chunks instead of puree :O) then just puree when I am ready to use it :O).

    To answer your question I about my tomatoes I planted Porter House, Beefsteak, Sans Marsano, Jersey Giant, Egg Yolk, Cherry and then late in the game I tossed in 8 different heirlooms one of each to save seeds off of. I bought the heirloom plants but usually grow all my tomato seedlings because I plant a lot and they are so fun to grow from seeds! :O)

    Your other question about how we shade our garden. We built metal arched frames like green houses and have shade cloth covers for them like a green house. If you would like to see just put in the search on my blog Shade Cloth or Shade covers it will pull up the post I have done on them and how we built them :O).

    I would have emailed you this back ;O) but your set at no reply - comment on your comments that you leave :O) so I couldn't email ya back :O)... I am leaving it here :O).. You can change that in your blogger set up if you want to so that people can send an email directly back to you with answers :O).