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.

IMG_7570

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.

Advertisements

Onions

Today is so nice out I decided the onions and garlic had cured long enough so I hauled them all outside to clean up and trim before putting them in winter storage.

Photo Sep 02, 10 47 15 AM

I planted fewer than I did last year and, fortunately, wasn’t plagued with another round of that fungus that attacked them. What I don’t get is why there is such a disparity of size among them.

Photo Sep 02, 10 47 50 AM

Granted, they start out as different sized plants from the garden center, but not this different! They all went in the same bed and at the same time so I can’t blame soil or water differences. The sizes were all mixed up in the bed. Maybe next year I’ll try fertilizing them, or fertilizing some and not others and see if that makes a difference. In the meantime, it’s kind of nice to be able to select just as much onion as I need for a recipe and not have to put leftover bits in the refrigerator.

Garden Green

I visited the garden this morning to check that everything was OK before the heat wave hits. Not looking forward to that. It’s going to be “a real stinkroo” as my friend Martha puts it. In any case, I found lots of green.

Photo Jul 20, 7 53 04 AM

The next round of broccoli is coming along nestled in blue green leaves.

Photo Jul 20, 7 54 52 AM

Plenty of little green lanterns on the tomatillo plant. I see enchilada sauce and jars of salsa in our future.

Photo Jul 20, 7 53 33 AM

Many bell peppers. Big, green and solid!

Photo Jul 20, 7 59 13 AM

And look at all the Poblanos! I grew two this year because last year’s made such a poor showing. Now both are laden with their dark green fruit.

Photo Jul 20, 7 51 32 AM

And tomatoes! Green tomatoes! These are Amish Paste, I think.

Photo Jul 20, 7 51 02 AM

Lots of little, green cherry tomatoes, too.

Photo Jul 20, 7 53 41 AM

Even green striped tomatoes. Green on green…

Photo Jul 20, 7 53 54 AM

And this big green dude. Yup. Green. More green…

Photo Jul 20, 7 45 51 AM

Uh, huh. Yeah, we saw green Amish Paste already…

Photo Jul 20, 7 51 44 AM

Enough, already! I want a ripe tomato! Last year I was at least getting a hint of color weeks earlier. What gives? In 2014 I was picking cherry tomatoes on July 10.

Photo Jul 20, 7 59 51 AM

Ah! Finally. The lone tomato showing any color. It’s an Opalka, a paste variety and it has many, many green compatriots hanging on the vines. They’d better ripen soon. I’m getting a little tired of green. Open-mouthed smile

Sorting the Sowing Schedule

The leeks are reaching up and ready for their first haircut—right on schedule!

Photo Mar 04, 6 08 07 AM

I’m trying something different this year with my garden planning. In the past I’ve used different schedules for starting seeds, transplanting, and sowing in sort of a mishmash blend. These are spread out on different calendars and tables from a variety of sources ranging from completely local to vaguely regional to purely theoretical. Recently I sat down with all this information and attempted to wrestle it into a simpler, more usable schedule specific to what I actually grow. The biggest source of inspiration is a chart I got from a local market farmer at a workshop on making a garden produce like a farm.

The most helpful thing I got from this chart is the scheduling of succession plantings. I’ve got a track record of planting an entire crop all at once, then having, for example, more lettuce than we can eat followed later by the dreaded lettuce lack. The farm’s chart shows numbered, regularly-timed sowings of crops in an easy to understand system. I used that system to transcribe all my different sources into one chart of my own that I’ll test out this year. Each week has a separate section for seed starting, transplanting and sowing. My intention is to make notes and adjust as I go along, if necessary. I might even make some notes of harvests just for reference. Next winter I can look it over for what worked and what didn’t, make the adjustments I need and apply it again the following growing season. For now, I’ve got thirty weeks of the year all planned out. Consulting the schedule it says it’s week 4 and time to sow the peppers!