Naked Gardening

October is here and we’re turning our attention to scary orange things! Actually, this story goes all the way back to last year. At Halloween I like to save some seeds from the pumpkins I carve for the occasion. Like so many other people, I wash and roast them and then sit around peeling and eating them. As I did so one chilly autumn evening, I contemplated the pepitas one buys for Mexican cooking. They don’t have that hard, flavorless shell my pumpkin seeds have that need to be cracked and peeled before consuming. I occurred to me there must be some trick to doing them in volume economically. A machine maybe? I did a little searching on the Internet and discovered something even better: naked pumpkin seeds! Well, more properly, hulless pumpkin seeds. These are varieties that have bred away the hard seed coat to where it’s just a thin, soft membrane. I don’t know that these are what are grown make the pepitas at the store, but they sounded like such a good idea. Unfortunately, pumpkins are space-consuming crop to grow so I filed away this tidbit for when we have a bigger garden.

Then, as luck would have it, one of the bloggers I follow did a post about a hulless pumpkin aptly named ‘Lady Godiva.’ The author of My Food and Flowers is a Taiwanese gardener living in Canada who, apparently, grows absolutely everything in the world. When wrote about ‘Lady Godiva’ and I mentioned I wanted to grow this kind of pumpkin some day she kindly sent me some seeds.

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I started them indoors in April and then set one out when the ground was nice and warm in the beds I had designated for squash and cucumbers. The vine grew pretty long, but I was able to weave it in and around other plants to accommodate it. By early September I had one nice pumpkin that was ready to pick.

Photo Sep 09, 9 43 39 AM

Photo Sep 09, 9 44 45 AM

The dark seeds were easy to see through their thin, transparent shells.

Photo Sep 09, 9 44 50 AM

Photo Sep 09, 9 57 55 AM

It was practically no work at all to rake the seeds out of the stringy flesh with my fingers. They came out nice and clean and only needed a rinse before roasting. There was about half a cup of seeds in this one pumpkin. I didn’t want to spend this precious bounty in a sauce where the flavor might not be as well appreciated so I opted for roasting them as a snack. I spread them out on a cookie sheet, sprinkled on some salt and left them in the oven until they started making popping noises. They’re delicious! Given how easy they are to grow and harvest, I would definitely plant these again in sufficient numbers for real cooking once we have the space.

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8 thoughts on “Naked Gardening

  1. So interesting! I am an inveterate pumpkin (and watermelon) seed eater and have always accepted the cracking the shells with your teeth part as part of the entertainment. I could never imagine no-shell pumpkin seeds but those look really yummy! An amazing discovery. Amelia

  2. I’ve never heard of ‘naked seeds’ before! But what a fun, apt name for them 🙂
    I just discovered this avatar of yours, Mark. For some reason, I was still waiting for your Shady Character blog to reveal updates! I love the look and feel of this one (and the posts).

    1. I’m glad you found me again, Sunita. When I moved to WordPress I assumed I would lose some followers and I guess I should have announced the switch better. Happy gardening!

  3. I grew hulless squash for the first time, too – another variety (‘Kakai’). It did pretty well and the seeds were delicious. But the amount of seed is not huge (from 75 to 150 grams per fruit), so I’m undecided about whether I should grow it again next year or use the space for something else. Too bad winter squash require so much space!

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