It is April and the pumpkins are getting ready. Ready to come inside and be admired. I seem to start feeling anxious around this time. Partly because harvesting at the right time consumes me (check for frosts), partly because in previous years we've had a sadly designed person who felt the need to harvest other people's pumpkins, and partly just because, with anything that has the capacity to store, I feel some pressure to maximise my crop. With the vegetables that need immediate consumption - can you believe this - sometimes I sigh when I see them???? You know like, oh no, I guess I'll have to pick you and eat you AGAIN. There's always something each year that I over produce. This year it was cucumbers. Often it is zucchinis.
I like to plant a few varieties of pumpkins and I do have only one garden bed for pumpkins so they are fairly intensively planted. I like the output though - I get variety and the pumpkins don't grow enormous, which suits us because although we are a family of four only two of us eat vegetables. Well, the young ones eat some vegetables. I planted my favourite pumpkin: Australian butter (heirloom), a regular type of butternut called Waltham butternut, a squash called delicata (rumoured to be like sweet potato but after eating last year's crop I'm not convinced), and two grey/blue skinned pumpkins Crown Prince and Baby Blue, and of course I had the volunteer which I think was also a Prince.
Australian butter: best guess is 3 or 4 on the vines.
Squash delicata: pretty sure there's only 3
One of the blue/greys - probably a Crown Prince - with a crown of rocket (arugala) in flower: best guess 8 or 9
Waltham butternut, best guess: 5 or 6. One largish (off to the left) and two babies. The young ones are green and white, kind of freckled and splotchy. Then as they grow the skin becomes a pale buffy, kind of organgy-beige colour. And they have the classic shape: thin at the top with a bell shape at the bottom where all the seeds are. These are popular in my house and as they don't keep as well as the others we eat them as they ripen. I hoard the others and we've only just finished last year's crop.
So, have you been keeping track of the totals? I think somewhere between 19 to 22 pumpkins.
Here's the rambling bed. There's a clump of dwarf dahlias at the end - they are the dark leafed, clump. They didn't flower very well in the drought, considering the watering largely went to the vegetables. Still, I like a few flowers in my beds to cheer up the place. At the other end of the bed are the remains of the corn crop. I've been feeding a couple of stalks a week to the chickens rather than letting them completely dry out. So now all there is to do is check regularly for frosts. Peter Cundall in Seasonal Tasks for the practical Australian gardener says "Pumpkins will keep for a very long time if harvested carefully. The main thing to remember is to try and keep them on the vine as long as possible, while avoiding damage from frosts. I cover mine each night, with an old bag or a forkful of straw over each fruit. When the frosts start to blacken the leaves they can be safely harvested, but should you forget to cover each individual pumpkin, and frosts strike them, they will only last for a few weeks". Egads. Tenterhooks. Frosts. 22 pumpkins. Cover each one??? I'll see how long I can hang on. I might have to revert to plan B.