Naked seed pumpkin
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.
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.
Inside, just like any other pumpkin – only the seeds are hull-less.
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.
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.
♥ 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.
♣ 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!