Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Pumpkin training

KEEPING a pumpkin vine inside a garden bed is akin to herding cats.

While it is exciting to see my vigorous vines swarm around the garden, it can be a bit disconcerting to have to evade their tendrils when walking around chasing chooks or doing the watering. 

Gidget checks out the pumpkins

Growing pumpkins is so easy, their triffid tendencies can get out of control.

Constant vigilance is the key, otherwise you wake u one fine autumn morning and realise a cucubit the size of a VW bug is sitting in the middle of the grass and moving it will require a forklift or at least a friend with bigger biceps than I.

But the joy of seeing these amazing vegetables grow is unbelievable.
Now my pumpkins are looking pretty good and each morning I do a dash about and tap them to see how ripe they are.

A good way to to work out when these pumpkins are ready to be harvested is similar to spuds - when those big elephant ear like leaves start to look wiltered, miserable and sparse, this is a sign. A reliable method of testing for pumpkin ripeness you give them a sharp knuckle-tap. If your pumpkin sounds hollow then it's ready to be cut free and cooked or storied.

Another sign I picked up from (Sir) Peter Cundall, is when pumpkin stalks begin to shrivel and wrinkle and form tiny, vertical cracks, it means the darlings are fully mature.

My little darlings are stored in and on a wooden box, close together but not touching. By leaving them exposed to full sunlight for a couple of weeks it completes their ripening, hardens up their skin and ensures long storage so you can enjoy them all winter long.

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