From the Squirrel Garden

| 12/12/2017 9:49:00 AM

Tags: raising pumpkins, gardening, homestead humor, Wisconsin, Laura Berlage,

pumpkin ready for carving

A big, round pumpkin ready for carving! 

Every year in the garden, something grows like crazy and something is a bust.  This year, members of the cucurbit family were the bust.  I don’t know how many times we tried replanting cucumbers and winter squash, but the success rate for germination in the chronically cool and damp soils this year was very poor.

And we weren’t the only ones—other neighbors struggled with their zucchini and winter squashes too, having the best success rates with plants started indoors and transplanted into the garden.  But a different kind of gardener on our farm had the best success rate with planting the squash family.

Last fall, about this time of year, Kara and I and our intern Olivia collected trailer loads of unwanted pumpkins.  Poor stems, blemishes, unloved shapes…we piled them up in the trailer and truck and brought them back to the farm to store for feeding our heritage Kunekune pigs through the winter.  The pumpkin flesh is sweet, and the pigs love gnawing up the smashed pieces like candy and eating up the seedy guts.

But the squirrels were thrilled about our stash in the green, hooped shed as well.  They climbed between the golden orbs, chewing their way in through the sides and stealing the seeds.  Whenever I’d approach the cobbled-together palates that held the pumpkin horde, three or four would scamper away, popping out the sides of half-frozen pumpkins like gophers from their holes.

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