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Smashing Pumpkins

December 7, 2010

I am not one of those perfect gardeners, where everything turns out.  Most of this is due to my penchant for procrastination.  I have struggled this season with these Naked Seed pumpkins, as I have each time I have grown them.  I think the main reason is that I am still exploring if these are a marginal crop for me or something worth growing.  Evaluating that takes time.  And an attitude adjustment.  I shouldn’t be comparing them to my Sweet Meat, but it’s hard not to.  I plant, tend, harvest and then spend all winter eating the Sweet Meat.  The Naked seed pumpkins are the same until harvest time.  I don’t have to cure these like the Sweet Meats, but I do have to harvest the seeds in a short time since these are C. pepos and have a short life.

Part of my evaluation instead of just liking to eat the seeds, is to ask the question – do I have time when I am busy harvesting so many other things in the fall?  Last year I spent a fair amount of time getting my dry bean harvest done in a timely manner.  I didn’t plant any dry beans this year – too wet.  And still without that job I still managed to look the other way when we had freezing weather, and let the pumpkins freeze, on purpose.  Sort of.  Actually I knew it would just mean less time to process them, I wasn’t worried about the seeds and the flesh was going for livestock feed anyway.  But juicy frozen pumpkins are a mess to deal with.  I know all these things, but knowing and following up are not always the same thing.  At least with me.

Sometimes you learn something new when you drag your feet.  I learned that with mushy pumpkin I didn’t have to cut or chop these open!  I could throw them down and they would break or at least crack so I could pry them open.  Good.  One less tool needed for a messy job.  Dropping the pumpkins saved me considerable time.

A sunny day in front of the barn with dutiful dogs makes short work of a messy job.

supply your own caption…

There didn’t seem to be much variation in the seed count, but there was in the size of the pumpkins.  A large pumpkin didn’t have any more seeds than a medium one.  I saved seed for next year from medium-sized pumpkins that had good showed good pollination – no duds or at least not many – and a cavity full of seeds.  The large pumpkins were actually a waste as far as I was concerned.  They were much heavier but contained no more seeds than their smaller colleagues.

It’s funny when you do a job like this, other similar tasks come to mind.  Some of the seeds I milked out of the cavities, and some I had to fish out like turkey lungs.  If you have ever milked a cow or butchered poultry you know what I mean.  The only difference is at least with milking and butchering you have a way to warm your hands – pumpkin flesh is cold.

Two different pumpkins in the whole lot of 50 plus, had seeds that had already started to sprout.  Still edible after drying but not good for seed.  This wouldn’t be a problem either if you were pressing them for oil.

I spent about 5 hours processing the pumpkins for seed over two afternoons, not as bad as it looked when I started.  Every day as I walked through the barn and saw the pumpkins just sitting there, I imagined it being a much larger task.  Many times the time you save not doing something is more important than doing an unnecessary task.  I needed to fill the cow trough today for the coming week, and I was planning on taking them the pumpkins after harvesting the seeds.   The pickup bed is the right height for me to work comfortably and I needed to load the pumpkins, so after smashing each pumpkin I cleaned the seeds right on the pickup bed – no extra lifting, and loading and when it was time to do a paddock shift and water, I had the truck already loaded with cow treats, the mess in the barn cleaned up and it saved my back.

I washed the seeds in colanders and am drying them on cookie sheets, roasting pans and any large pan I can find.  If I was to take a guess it looks like roughly a gallon and one half of dried pumpkin seeds, which are really a good replacement for purchased nuts, and will supply some good balanced Omega 3 and 6 fats, protein, and iron, and keep my coat glossy.  Maybe a crop to think about as a fill in while you wait for your nut trees to start producing.   I have no idea on the weight until they are all dry.  If money were the only consideration, all this work would not pay when I can buy organic raw pumpkin seeds for about $6.00 to $8.00 per pound.  But I like growing my own food as much as possible, and these are especially good, and most likely on the way from marginal to a keeper in my garden.

In other news, Melvin has healed nicely since his run-in with the bear.  Word around town, is that the bear didn’t fare as well… .

Do you procrastinate on “big” projects in the garden too?  I hope I am not alone 😉

24 Comments leave one →
  1. December 7, 2010 12:44 am

    Oh no, you’re not alone – for the last 2 years I’ve been planning to make a couple of new garden beds. By the end of this year I’ll be able to say the last 3 years LOL

    BTW I don’t often comment but I so enjoy reading your blog, and I’ve made a lot of your recipes with much success.

  2. December 7, 2010 3:06 am

    Me, procrastinate? No, never. It’s not like there are still cabbages, and carrots, and celeriac in the garden, and I don’t live in Canada, and it’s not winter….

    Oh, drat. I really should get around to finishing off the garden some time this year 🙂

  3. December 7, 2010 3:14 am

    Oh, you are definitely not alone! This year it was wax beans. They never did get harvested.

    I have, I think, 14 flower and herb gardens in addition to the 2 veg gardens. I’ve found I will procrastinate more on veg garden chores than on the others.

    I think this is because the veg garden I consider “work” (planting, mulching, harvesting, storing, canning, freezing, dehydrating, etc.) and the others are just weeded but supply flowers and enjoyment through color and scent. Plus if I don’t do anything, nothing is lost.

    So, nope, you aren’t alone.

    Reading your post about the Naked pumpkins has been intriguing. I’ve already planned next year’s gardens, but I might just try these to see if I will do the seeds. I have cows that might like a treat, also.

    How many pumpkins did it take to get the 1.5 gallons of seeds?

    I grew a Howden pumpkin plant this year. It went in late, but I got 12 full size pumpkins from it. How many pumpkins do you get per plant?

  4. December 7, 2010 4:13 am

    Boy do I ever! I tell myself that I will get to it later and later never comes! I have not tryed pumpkins yet, but I raise red worms and have been told that pumpkins are a great food sorce for them. The thing about the garden is I have piss-poor soil (understatement!!!). I have 3 acres of what use to be a corn field and after years of cemicals and heavy tractors the soil will only grow WEEDS and provide feed for the deer! Thats why I have the worms. Helps reduce my carbon foot print and I send less to the landfill. But next year we are going to try raised beds and fencing to try and get something out of the garden.
    Anyway, I read your Blog every day and have even started a Blog of my own. Keep up the good work and I look forward to your next post!

  5. December 7, 2010 5:20 am

    Do I procrastinate? UGGGH! This year has been nothing but. In my defense (dancing here) everything here is new to me, if not functionally, than in scale. I’ve planted bulbs, but never 3000 in one season. I’ve gardened, but only small plots, with adds of a few square feet each year. Mostly I was just intimidated by the size of the jobs. On the good side, once I actually DID whatever needed to be done (spray 500 gallons of compost tea instead of a couple of quarts) I felt really empowered. Capable. And better able to judge and evaluate for next year. So… I tell myself that it’s not just the garden that needs to grow, but the grower as well.

    Thanks for this followup on the pumpkins. I’m thinking that they might be a really good ‘add’ for me next year.

    How many plants did it take to get this much seed?

  6. December 7, 2010 6:38 am

    Just something I would like to add to your post. I did this quite by mistake when i was first married, you know the learning process of cooking. But I made a pie not out of the meat of the pumpkin but the shush pulp that the seeds string off of. It baked like a custard and was the very best pumpkin pie I ever made. And it was a total mistake.I didn’t know any better.

  7. December 7, 2010 7:48 am

    I procrastinate. Period. lol. I will need to learn not to do that. I did enjoy your post though.
    I was a bit confused when you said they’d keep your coat glossy though. 😉
    I’ve heard they are really good roasted and seasoned and so I want to try them sometime. 🙂

  8. michelle permalink
    December 7, 2010 8:21 am

    definitely not alone in the area of procrastination, nita. I still haven’t pulled my onions. Even with the freeze we had a couple of weeks ago it wasn’t enough to hurt them, but I know that they will go fast. Lots of french onion soup in my future.

  9. Southern Sassafras permalink
    December 7, 2010 8:22 am

    Hallelujah! Another procrastinator. but you know it always works itself out one way or another. It just depends on what your perspective is.

  10. December 7, 2010 9:43 am

    “I know all these things, but knowing and following up are not always the same thing. At least with me.”

    Uh, not just with you! I put stuff off and am either kicking myself later because something’s been wasted due to my procrastination or, I’m astounded with how much easier it was to do than I had imagined.

  11. December 7, 2010 9:46 am

    This reminds me of the time I (this is true) by accident put a cabbage in the freezer (sometimes I even find the dishrag in the fridge but nothing came of that). I digress, I found the frozen cabbage, pulled it out to thaw and made cabbage rolls……no steaming, NO scalded fingers. I also learned (by accident again) that if I froze my paste tomatoes (because I procrastinate) I can take them out when I actually have the time and when they thaw pull the skins off without scalding them. Procrastination and laziness sometimes DOES pay 😉

  12. December 7, 2010 10:15 am

    One of the things I love about your blog posts is the sense of pace. I don’t know how to explain it well – but I get a sense of the rhythms of your life through your writing. the big, slow cycles of years (and multiple years, as you sort out whether a veg is a keeper or not), and the smaller, faster rhythms of “Crap! Frozen pumpkins! Oh well…” I probably do more of the latter than the former at this point… 🙂

  13. December 7, 2010 10:49 am

    Procrastinate?? Never…. well sometimes,…. most of the time. Especially when the cold weather comes. I commend you on your efforts.
    “..will supply some good balanced Omega 3 and 6 fats, protein, and iron,…. and keep my coat glossy. That’s funny….

  14. Dennis Carlson permalink
    December 7, 2010 11:08 am

    Hello Matronofhusbandry,

    I want to let you know how much I’ve been enjoying nearly a year’s worth of your experiences. You are an excellent photographer and writer and I agree with nearly all your opinions.

    We live in Hood River on 1.86 acres where we have a 2,500 sqft vegetable garden, a 5,000 sqft orchard, 1000 sqft of grapes and small fruit, and 5000 sqft of pasture for a chicken tractor with 10 hens and which also helped feed 2 batches of 10 meat chickens and three turkeys contained with a mobile electric poultry net. I’m growing as much of my own food as I can. I would guess that I provide a little over half the calories we consume. I plan to double the size of the garden as time allows. I recently retired from a 30 year career as a forest technician but it hasn’t freed up as much time as I thought it would.

    I found your blog through the HighBrix list. I’ve been testing and amending our soil for 8 years first with Kinsey Ag Service and lately with Logan Labs and Michael Astera. This process has made a tremendous difference in the production and quality of our produce.

    We share several books in our libraries. I’m a big fan of Steve Solomon, Michael Pollan, Barbara Kingsolver, Joel Salatin, and now Carole Deppe. I’d like to recommend Deppe’s latest book: The Resilient Gardener. Here is a review:

    Thanks for sharing your excellent life with us.

    Dennis Carlson

  15. December 7, 2010 1:39 pm

    Whaddya know! Dogs come in a Pushme-Pullyou model!

  16. December 7, 2010 3:04 pm

    I have a half a box of apples in the basement, going bad, I have been putting off making something with them. I just got tired after all the fall busyness I guess.

    That is a lot of pumpkin, which means that is a lot of work, I can understand procastinating. I do love having pumpkin to cook with though, and seeds to eat, mmm.

    I often freeze tomatoes to can later because I don’t have enough to make sauce with at the time, doesn’t harm them a bit.


  17. Dawn permalink
    December 7, 2010 9:04 pm

    Procrastination? Rather than in the basement, my half bucket of apples has been on the back porch for a month, put there deliberately so I would remember they were there to make the last batch of apple sauce with. They have now developed these black spots that make me wonder what the bottom layer is looking like. Or maybe you’re talking about the perimeter fence around the chicken run area that has more patches than actual chicken wire, because I’ve been meaning to get a new roll of wire, but keep forgetting when I’m at the feed store? And at least you PLANTED your pumpkins…the special pumpkin seeds I bought from the local agricultural fair so the kids could grow them to compete in the “largest” pumpkin contest are still in their little envelope in my pile of important paperwork (seeds that is, not kids LOL). Sometimes you just have to look around at all the stuff you do get around to…someone above mentioned the way your blog reveals the way you seem to have cottoned onto the rhythm of the seasons and how to keep a steady pace, and it’s true, your blog shows you create or nurture tremendous productivity on your farm over the year.

    Cheers, Dawn

  18. December 7, 2010 11:26 pm

    My garden is so very far from perfect. I sure wish it was, and wish that I was more organized. Oh well it will get there!

  19. Steph permalink
    December 8, 2010 6:21 am

    I would like to save seeds but am worried about plants crossing with gmos or something. How do you keep that from happening? I read somewhere that all seeds are going to be owned by the big corporations, but I don’t get the feeling your worried too much about that.

  20. December 8, 2010 8:21 am

    Oh believe me….you’re NOT alone 😉

  21. December 8, 2010 8:36 am

    Procrastination is my middle name;)

  22. December 8, 2010 12:32 pm

    Just found your blog through WordPress tags and love it! We live in the middle of the city in San Francisco but I aspire to raise more of my own food as you are doing. Loved the comparison of pumpkin processing to poultry butchering and cow milking. Mmm, your roasted seeds sound great!

  23. December 8, 2010 6:01 pm

    I’ve (belatedly) come to realize that a good life for me is one that includes a dog. And that a good dog life is often a good human life.

    Your life looks good to both dogs and people!


  1. Will Work For Food « Throwback at Trapper Creek

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