Is there anything more exciting than a thriving pumpkin patch on an Autumnal Equinox day in 2020? With the growing season, for my wee garden at least, nearly finished it’s such a delight to see prolific creeping vines and twisting tendrils make their way over the raised bed frame.
I had been slightly concerned last week when I had only one female plant in bloom, but after a bit of research, I was assured that the males flowers bloom slightly earlier to allow for pollinators, such as bees, to work their magic.
A week on and I now have a crop thriving with females (see the bulbous fruit starting under the flower) and males (see the pollen covered stamen inside the flower).
Traditionally pollinators such a bees would pollinate this patch so that the vine will bear a wholesome crop. I’ve not seen too many bees lately in the garden and I don’t want to risk not having any fruit again this year so I’ve helped nature along by rubbing the pollen from the stamen on the inner of the female flower.
These particular plants were sown in June from hundreds of pumpkin seeds I saved from Hallowe’en pumpkins last year. Once they start fruit and swell, I will cushion the orange fruits with a base of straw to keep dampness away from the base and feeding every two weeks with a natural nettle fertiliser. I hope they are ready to harvest just before the frost and in time for Hallowe’en festivities.
Hallowe’en Pumpkins in Ireland account for a shocking amount of food waste, millions of Euros of crops are grown annually for Jack-o’-lantern decorations. Now don’t get me wrong, Hallowe’en is my favourite season and I always carve the best Jack-o’-lanterns in the house! However, each year I am trying to be more conscious of the negative environmental impact which can incur with buying or wasting store bought pumpkins. I failed to develop a healthy pumpkin patch last year (I was too late in the sowing season) but we did however make a great spread of pumpkin foods throughout October with the inner fruit from our carved pumpkins. If you haven’t started a pumpkin patch, there is always next year. Growing your own produce not only provides you with field-to-fork organic meals but it educates you of the efforts and resources involved with crop farming, and overall it will help to reduce food waste behaviour.
Have a look at our DIY section for pumpkin recipes, including pumpkin soup, pumpkin spiced donuts and roasted pumpkin.