Crunching Vines, Hidden Pumpkin

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Nea writes:

“I live in the Caribbean and pumpkins are a staple crop here. They grow EVERYWHERE, even in extremely poor soil that you would think would grow nothing, like construction sites that are saturated with concrete runoff. The local knowledge explains that pumpkins like to hide, and be stepped on. I.e., you should not keep the weeds down around the vines, in fact the opposite; let the pumpkins hide amongst the grass. Also, stepping on the vines helps them. Since the pumpkin vines here get massive and out of control, it’s usually hard to avoid stepping on them….

Honestly, I have actually found that both of these things help. When I keep weeds down and avoid stepping on the vines, the pumpkins rarely produce and then never very much. When I let them hide and step wherever I may, they prolifically produce massive pumpkins!”

I have seen pumpkins in odd places. Never thought that stopping weeding or stepping on the vines would help, though. I wonder if it increases rooting at the nodes.

David-the-good-books-revised

Zone-Pushing Success

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Virginia writes:

“I have used milk jugs & anything else with a lid to make a wall of heat retaining water for over 40 years!! I know people are just getting back to nature or homesteading so a lot of these OLD ideas are being treated as new, it’s just funny to me.     

The water method has worked for me in the mountains of Tennessee during winter, in Oregon during snow, and now in 29 Palms, Ca. {desert} where I just bought a house…”

 

One of my favorite things about writing Push the Zone: The Good Guide to Growing Tropical Plants Beyond the Tropics was discovering the zone-pushing methods of the past. Smudge pots in Florida, for instance; or the large walls used to hold in heat so peaches could be grown inside of Paris back in the 1600s.

In the book I combine both “new” ideas with the wisdom of the past, then mix it all together with humor and some crazy ideas that only a truly mad gardener would try.

In yesterday’s video, I harvest our little patch of turmeric and mention how easy it is to push the zone with both turmeric and ginger:

Don’t let the cold defeat you. If you want to grow something tropical but don’t have the climate, chances are you can pull it off with a little ingenuity.

David-the-good-books-revised

Homegrown Turmeric

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Yesterday the house was treated for termites. Since I had turmeric growing around one of the pillars which was going to be sprayed, I harvested some roots a little early:

Homegrown turmeric.

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Turmeric is really easy to grow, as you can see here:

You can plant any time in fall and winter (provided you’re in zone 8 or warmer) and plants will emerge in late spring to early summer.

Normally I’d wait for the tops to die back before harvesting but I’d rather not eat Termidor(TM) treated roots.

David-the-good-books-revised

Growing Seminole Pumpkins in the North and South

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Though Seminole pumpkins are a Florida heirloom, my friend Kevin is pushing the zone and growing them in Iowa:

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Note the variety of shapes, from flatter to rounder to pear-shaped. That’s typical for Seminole pumpkins, as is the range in color from green to tan.

Now for a report from the south!

Douglas in Collier County Florida is also growing Seminole pumpkins and sent photos of his success this year: Seminole-pumpkins-douglas-3

Look at them on the vine before they turned tan:

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These are the seeds Douglas planted:

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Those small fruits are seem to be the most standardized variety of Seminole pumpkin. They store a long, long time and produce well, especially when they grow out of a compost pile.

I have a bunch of different variations of Seminole Pumpkins listed here if you want to see more.

Also, this is one of the vegetables I recommend highly in my popular book on Florida gardening.

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They are truly a remarkable variety. Good work Kevin and Douglas!

David-the-good-books-revised

How to Grow Next Year’s Jack-O-Lanterns from the Remains of This Year’s

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Are you are a crazy seed saver?

You know the type: you have avocado pits sprouting on the counter, watermelon seeds drying on paper towels, lemon seedlings sprouting on the bathroom windowsill…

Life is full of temptations for seed savers. Every fruit has a pit… Every nature hike has a must-have wildflower… Every trip to a botanical garden, you’re keeping your hands stuffed in your pockets so they don’t “accidentally” pinch a cutting.

But then, fall arrives… and you completely lose it.

Farm stands are loaded with amazing produce containing seeds!  Yes seeeeeeeds, precious seeds! The grocery store is stocking winter squash varieties you’ve never seen before. That nice Mennonite family down the road has some crazy birdhouse gourds in a shape you haven’t seen before.  There is amazing Indian corn for sale on the roadside.  And you’re all over it.

My personal favorite finds are the pumpkin and winter squash, and this is most definitely the season.

The other day I screeched to a halt in our car after passing a roadside stand sporting the craziest pumpkin I’d ever seen for sale. After realizing we weren’t all going to die in a fiery crash, my wife grinned at me and said, “pumpkin?” I nodded and ran before someone else could snag it.

She’s used to this seed-saving madness. I’ve been doing it for so long that if I ever stopped, she’d know I was taken over by an alien space pod.

But I digress.

Since Halloween is almost here and a lot of us will be cutting open pumpkins, let’s cover how to save pumpkin seeds. If you’d like to grow next year’s jack-o’-lanterns yourself or if you’re the type that can’t help but bring home beautiful new varieties from the local farmer’s market, today’s post is for you.

(Click here to read the rest at The Grow Network)

David-the-good-books-revised

Back in the garden

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The rains finally let up long enough for me to get back to gardening and filming videos.

On Thursday I posted an update on my vanilla orchids:

Then today, my progress on the little garden beds:

That set of beds is really a mess. I need to clear the rest and I think I’m going to cut the perennial cucumber vines way back and let them regrow. They’re insane.

I have to be careful in those beds, though, as I have multiple good edibles in there which are also perennials. I probably should have stuck to just annuals in those beds; however, it’s one of the few sunny spots where I can get things going and keep an eye on them.

It feels good to be outside and working again. The rain has truly been ridiculous, plus I’ve had a lot of work indoors that has kept me from gardening as much as I should.

Anything going on in your gardens right now? Get some fall crops in yet?

David-the-good-books-revised

Trying Hubbards Again

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My friend Wendy sent me some Blue Hubbard squash seeds in the mail.

We’ll see if I can pull them off despite the vine borers. Maybe I’ll soak everything with neem oil this time.

OR DDT!

Just kidding. I can’t get DDT here. Besides, I am reliably informed that the application of said pesticide would be akin to paving paradise.

But I’m tempted. I really want Hubbards.

Yet am I so shallow as to abandon my principles for the sake of an heirloom squash with “huge, teardrop-shaped fruit (that) weigh 15-40 lbs and have sweet, fine-grained, golden flesh”?(1)

I mean…

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And I am a thought leader now, so I shouldn’t even JOKE about DDT!

Shame on you, David The BAD!

But –

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No, I must resist.

And I will resist the urge to nuke the vine borers from orbit. Even if that means the vine borers win.

The public demands it, and I am a humble servant of the masses.

 

(1) Baker Creek’s description.

Hubbard squash image by JamainOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

 

David-the-good-books-revised

A Closer Look at a Few Pumpkins from the Breeding Project

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Yesterday my son sold three of his “Bahfeemus Egg” pumpkins/winter squash, but before he did I filmed a video:

Two of the Seminole pumpkin cross vines broke off. This is not good for storage, so we will eat those first; however, they will heal up and keep long enough to age I’m sure. They are just unlikely to keep for months and months.

The white bumpy pumpkin – if delicious – will be the parent of a new line. I’ve never seen a C. moschata that looks like this one. It’s striking and I hope I can stabilize the line.

David-the-good-books-revised

I may have it!

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I shared some of my pumpkin seeds with a neighbor.

Today he brought me this:

Second generation pumpkin. I really like this look! #plantbreeding #pumpkin #agriculture #gardening

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I am pretty certain this is Bob’s offspring. Now I need to plant the seeds and stabilize the type. Absolutely beautiful. It looks like a cross between the original Bob the Pumpkin and a cheese type. Never seen a C. moshata like this before. If I can get it to produce true-to-type, you may be able to get an original “David The Good” pumpkin in seed stores in a few years.

This is more of an accidental pumpkin than anything else – there was a great type I found, we planted the seeds, somewhere it must have crossed with something cool, and BAM – now we have something neat. If we can keep it!

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