Pumpkins just make me smile so, I love having them in the garden! When we first decided to grow pumpkins for a farm crop we tried to decide which variety would be best.
Deciding Which Variety to Grow
We decided on two; Sugar Pie and Snack Jack. Sugar Pie is an Heirloom variety and we try to use as many Heirloom seeds as possible. We are seed savers here on the farm! Sugar Pie is also small and full of flavor which makes a good seller to restaurants. The seeds are also good for eating.
Snack Jack is great for the seeds! It is considered 'hulless'...it's really not but has a thin membrane over the seeds instead of a thick covering. You don't have to spend hours trying to crack the hull to get to that seed! The flesh of the Snack Jack is very edible and is also good in pies. These are also good sellers to restaurants because they can use the flesh and seeds!
When and How to Plant the Pumpkins Seeds
We like to plant the pumpkins with our Bloody Butcher corn and 'dry' beans...the three sisters method...where everything can be harvested in the Fall.
Since I love seeing pumpkins I do scatter some throughout our garden spaces! You can sow the seeds and get them started in organic material/soil and set them out in spaces when you're ready for them. In our area which is Zone 7, we do direct sowing of the seeds after the soil reaches 60 degrees. This is usually anywhere after May 10th.
If I'm planting pumpkins in the three sisters method, I like to have the corn and beans already established in the ground with a good root system started before I plant my pumpkin plant, either beside or in front of the corn stalk.
Storing and Using your Harvested Pumpkins
Make sure the pumpkins are mature when you harvest. They should have developed good color and the stem drying.
Put the pumpkins in a dry area to store. A canhouse or cellar are ideal. If you don't have storage space you can cook/roast the pumpkins and freeze the flesh for later use. Save the seeds for re-planting and/or eating!
Pumpkin Cake Recipe:
• cooked pumpkin, pureed 1 1/4 cups
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• refined sugar 1-1 1/2 cups
• olive/grapeseed oil 1 cup
• 3 eggs
• plain flour 1 cup
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon salt (I use pink Himalayan)
I just mix all ingredients together with spoon and pour into cake tins.
Option: You can make this into a chocolate pumpkin cake by adding 6 Tbsp. powdered cocoa to the batter. Also, garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds!
Bake cupcakes about 13-15 minutes and cake about 20-25 minutes. (350 degrees)
I frost with simple cream cheese frosting (pkg. cream cheese softened and just enough powdered sugar to sweeten). Sometimes I add maple syrup if it is 'maple sapping time'.
Susan Tipton-Fox presents on-farm workshops in Yancey County, North Carolina, and growing her on-farm agritourism by promoting "workshop stays" on the farm (extending the farm experience).
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