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Naked seed pumpkin

November 9, 2009

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The jury is still out on the naked seed pumpkin in our garden.  The idea of seeds you can just eat straight out of the pumpkin without shelling is intriguing, and I had grown Snack Jack before.  But, with all the harvesting and preserving projects each fall, adding one more job that needed attention at that busy time always got me in trouble.    The chickens got to dine on a lot of Snack Jacks – they liked it, but it stuck in my craw that I was wasting these seeds.  I just couldn’t get them processed before they started to go bad.

This year I decided to try hull-less pumpkins again.  Naked seed pumpkins originated in Austria, where they are grown for the highly nutritious oil seeds.  After roasting, the seeds are pressed into pumpkin seed oil, replacing imported olive oil in those regions. 

The flesh is so-so, typical C. pepo fare, not near as flavorful as C. maxima or moschata winter squash varieties.  In fact, the seed catalog recommends that the flesh is best for livestock consumption. 

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The Styrian pumpkins loved our conditions and jumped out of the their hills and continued to grow vigorously.  I had problems this year with cucurbit pollination during several different 10o°F + heat waves.  So they may have been more productive barring those episodes.

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Inside, just like any other pumpkin – only the seeds are hull-less.

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Removing the seeds is a messy, slimy job.  I found the easiest method was to just use my fingers as a comb, and pull the seeds out that way.  That approach left me only with hands to wash and not spoons and extra dishes.   I only had a few strings to remove.  

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A platter full of seeds needing to be dried.  Yum!

I usually do a mental check list to help me determine if I will grow a variety again. 

Advantages:
♥  The hull-less seeds are definitely a plus.

♥  I could make my pumpkin pickles out of these, since they are actually pumpkins and have the stringy flesh that gives me the texture I want for my pumpkin pickles.  I don’t usually grow pumpkins, having passed the carving stage.  And my Sweet Meat squash has a perfect texture for pumpkin pies, so pumpkins have been off my list.  I also don’t buy pumpkins because cucurbits are notorious for uptake of toxic agricultural chemicals that have been in farm soil for many decades.  Finding a grower of truly organic pumpkins isn’t easy.  Many organic farms still have these chemicals present, and a strict rotation must be followed.  If I want pumpkins (or any cucurbits) I need to grow them myself.

♥  They are easy to grow and isolate for seed saving, only crossing with summer squash in my garden, which I can tuck in anywhere and preserve my isolation distances.

Disadvantages:

♣  Pumpkins don’t keep as long as winter squash, requiring processing fairly soon after harvest during the busy season, in order to salvage the seeds for eating or saving.  Winter squash will keep much longer and spread out the workload.
I still have 2 Sweet Meat squash from ’08, I won’t eat them, but I do want to see how long they will keep.

♣  They take up quite a bit of space in the garden, small gardeners might not find them productive enough.

♣  For me using the flesh as livestock feed in counter-productive.  As I still have grazing at the time of year the pumpkins are needing to be fed out, it is just too much work.  Sheep, poultry or pigs would be the easiest to feed these pumpkins to, requiring no chopping before feeding.  Cows could choke.  Dogs would also be a good choice too, because my dogs absolutely love squash.  But again, to keep C. pepo’s you need to process them in some way.

As you can see I am about evenly divided on the pro’s and con’s.  I most likely will grow them again because the seeds are delicious, but our winter squash fits our low energy storage requirements, and productivity needs much better.  But all in all, I think maybe for a gardener with limited space, this Styrian pumpkin may be a better fit than the standard orange jack-o-lantern type.  A little more than decoration, and easy to grow too!

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22 Comments leave one →
  1. Susan permalink
    November 9, 2009 10:01 am

    Where do you get your seeds? I have been looking for a naked seed pumpkin for my sheep (and me….). And thank you for such an informative, thoughtful and well-written blog!

    susan in NY

    • November 9, 2009 11:41 am

      Susan, I got mine at Turtle Tree Seeds, but they were expensive. Almost every seed catalog carries them, but by different names. I think Fedco had LADY GODIVA, and Johnny’s carried KAKAI. All pretty similar and good sources. Sheep love squash and they have the top teeth eat them with, without chopping 🙂

    • robben permalink
      December 11, 2009 10:12 pm

      I have grown the Lady Godiva for years. I was always sharing the seed, and ended up giving all my seed stock away. I got some new seed last year. I planted the whole package and ended up with over 70 pumpkins. I can send you a few seeds to get you started if you send me a sase. Till I run out! Email me first to make sure I still have seed.They are excellent for eating. I have a great recipe for granola bars, so I use quite a few pumpkin seeds. This was my main reason for getting back into them.

  2. November 9, 2009 10:48 am

    Looks great! I’ve added so many new seeds to my list for …..you guessed it “Next Year”! Unfortunately squash beetles got all my pumpkins this year….bummer. I’ll have to deal with that too. Right? I understand that the eggs will hatch next year if I didn’t destroy them….I didn’t burn everything. Any ideas for squash beetles?

    I dealt with Bloat on Saturday. Followed the instructions in Dr Sheaffer’s book and Josie was fine in an hour!!!

    • November 9, 2009 11:48 am

      Diane, finding the balance to keep pests at bay is an ongoing battle. It’s hard in small gardens to keep enough “wild” plants and litter for beneficials to thrive. I’m guessing the longer you garden and the healthier your soil gets, the less problem you will have with pests. I have no idea what to do about the beetles, since (knock on wood) we haven’t been bothered by them.

      Bloat? This time of year? Is your grass lush? I’m glad she is on the mend, it’s amazing when they bounce back like that isn’t it 🙂

  3. November 9, 2009 10:49 am

    These are of great interest to me…maybe I will try some next year. We really like pumpkin seeds.

    • November 9, 2009 11:49 am

      TC, you’ll love them, it’s hard to stay out of them when I’m cleaning out the pumpkin. You have a good supply of what makes these puppies grow too 😉

  4. November 9, 2009 11:24 am

    I enjoyed your photos of the pumpkins and the dog looks very interested in it.

  5. November 9, 2009 11:50 am

    finding pam, thanks, they seem to always be interested in anything food related 🙂 And I thought they liked my companionship 😉

  6. November 9, 2009 12:06 pm

    This is very interesting. I have been toying with the idea of growing some of these for awhile now. So I guess next year the time is right!

    Linda
    http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

    • November 9, 2009 12:23 pm

      Linda, these pumpkins would absolutely love your warmer summers! Plus I have a feeling the grandkids would love the seeds!

  7. November 9, 2009 3:37 pm

    great post, thanks. I’ve been interested in these for a long time, nice to hear your thoughts.

    • November 9, 2009 7:34 pm

      Hayden, you’ve got the space, the good thing about vining squash, is that once they get established, they are pretty trouble free until harvest time. The plants create a lot of shade and thwart weed germination.

  8. November 9, 2009 5:42 pm

    Thank you for satisfying my curiosity about Naked Seed Pumpkins that you stirred several blogs ago.

  9. November 12, 2009 5:56 am

    Thanks for the idea! We all love pumpkin seeds, and I’m also interested in the possibility of a locally grown replacement for olive oil!

  10. Gary Rondeau permalink
    December 12, 2009 4:28 pm

    I’ve been wondering about naked pumpkin seeds as well. I like roasted squash / pumpkin seeds just to munch on for snacks. Usually I roast the seeds from the squash as I use them. I’ve been experimenting with various roasting methods and also keeping track of which varieties have the most palatable seeds. The roasting method I like the best is to just pour a little tamari on the seeds and roast them slowly in the oven – stirring them frequently until they are toasty. Some seeds, such as those from my Sweet Meat squash, are practically inedible in the shell because the shell is so thick. Cracking each seed to get at the meat takes more patience than I have. But my Marina de Chioggia squashes this year have excellent roasting seeds. The shells are thin enough you can just chew them up. With the tamari coating they are a very tasty snack. So I might stick with this variety, for the seeds as well as the uniquely delicious flesh.

  11. Douglas permalink
    April 16, 2010 10:13 am

    How do you germinate them? I would like to try to grow the ones that I buy as food but opposed to hulled ones these seem to be germinated differently as they all failed with the method used for the hulled.

    • April 16, 2010 11:05 am

      Douglas, food and seed are usually two different things and are treated differently. i.e. irradiation, pesticides to name a couple. It’s hard telling what has been done to food seeds, as opposed to seeds for planting, hence your seeds failure to sprout. I would recommend buying some seed specifically for growing.

  12. Will Bonsall permalink
    February 14, 2011 5:27 pm

    There are two very different types of pepitas on the market: the round flat types, often from China, are Cucurbita pepo, and are truly hull-less, whereas the long paddle-shaped ones from southern Mexico are a different specie (maybe C. mixta), and far from being hull-less, have a very thick hull which is removed. The former is the kind you want to plant in your garden for home-use; the latter would probably not mature seed in most US gardens, even if they germinated. Perhaps the de-hulling process messes up their germ?

  13. al luoma permalink
    March 3, 2011 5:44 pm

    I have been growing these pumpkins for 15 years and am still learning about them. The seeds are wonderful as well as the meat! Your pollination problems are maybe the result of lack of water and not pollination related, I find that they require enormous amounts of water. A lack of water will cause the blooms to fall off. The female blossom is only open for half a day or so and does need to be pollinated at that time. I have done artificial pollinating with so so results. True they are not good keepers especially if picked up by the “handle” which is a definite no no. Try cutting them open sideways instead of top to bottom. This will result in fewer cut seeds and could make stripping them easier, I add a little water which helps the seeds come out cleaner. After thoroughly washing with hot water I drain, add a heaping teaspoon of salt, spread them out evenly on a sheet of foil shaped like a cookie sheet and drive the moisture out of them slowly in the oven at 210- 215 deg. your friends will bug you for more. not all of the pumpkins will be good table fare. I choose the ones that have the brightest orange meat and have a sweet taste when raw. I bake and freeze 2 cups in a freezer bag for later use. I make cookies, pie,pancakes, soup, muffins and my wifes cake is always a big hit. Raising these is a hobby I really enjoy, but trying to keep the deer out of them is a challenge. Last year I grew almost 300 of these lovely orbs. try eating the flowers sauteed in a little butter with salt and pepper.

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  1. Naked-seeded pumpkin a success…sort of « Root & Branch – Sustainable Food & Garden Support

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