Skip to main content


My son loves to grow pumpkins. He has since he was a little guy. Truth be told, he is much better at it than I am.

I have mentioned before how much I love winter squash. They come in so many interesting shapes and sizes and the same holds true in regards to pumpkins. Everything from the tiny jack-be-little to the gargantuan Dill's Giant catch my eye in the seed catalogs over winter. Honestly, if I had more room I would have more pumpkins! We tend to grow sugar pumpkins for pie filling in our gardens but we also raise other varieties for jack-o-lanterns and other fall festivities.

One thing to consider before you even put a seed in the ground is exactly how long the particular pumpkins you are growing take to mature. Some easily exceed 100 days and that is cutting it awfully close to the first frost date in our neck of the woods. On occasion the best route has been to buy starter plants from one of the local greenhouses or even start seeds indoors to get a bit of a jump on things. With that said growing pumpkins is a rather straight forward pursuit.

To begin with you want healthy soil. Remember, healthy soil equals healthy plants. We use rabbit and chicken manure along with green compost in our gardens and the results are fantastic!

If you live in an area, such as ours, where there is a lot of rain and moisture you may want to consider growing your pumpkins in mounds to cut down on mold. Pumpkins are very susceptible, especially on the stems and leaves, to mildew and other diseases that will destroy your crop in a surprisingly short time.

They also take up a lot of room in a garden. If you allow them to sprawl they can easily send out vines well over twenty feet in length. We address this issue but growing them on a number of sturdy trellises built out of old oak and maple branches. Just like a city we build vertical rather than horizontal. It is worth mentioning this also helps tremendously with mold issues as well by providing ample air circulation.

Once they mature cut them from the vine and allow them to dry in the warm sun for a few hours before bringing them in. When you do carve them for meals or fun take the seeds from the healthiest plants and wash them off. Admittedly, this is easier said than done. The seeds and the pulp are sticky devils.

Pumpkins are loaded with anti-oxidants such as vitamin A and C. Those we do not eat we eventually give to the chickens. We simply cut them in half and the hens do the rest of the work, in fact they love them!

Tobias Whitaker blogs for Mother Earth News and Grit Magazine. Click on the Mother Earth News logo at the bottom of the page for all of his post. You can also find him on Facebook at Seed To Harvest: Bossy Hen Homestead which is a central location for his homesteading blogs and his homeschooling blog, A Mile In Her Shoes: Tales Of A Stay-At Home Dad found here  


Popular posts from this blog

Swedish Flower Hen

The rare Swedish Flower Hen has a unique story. Called Skånsk blommehöna(Bloom Hen) in their native country of Sweden this landrace breed was thought to be extinct in the 1970's. (The term landrace refers to the fact that S.F.H.'s were free to develop for nearly five hundreds years without interference from man, so to speak). But in the late 1980's the Swedish Poultry Country Club located isolated flocks in the villages of Esarp, Tofta and Vomb. The gene bank that was eventually created by the S.P.C.C. was successful and there are approximately 1,300 Swedish Flower Hens currently in Sweden.

While enthusiast of rare breeds continue to work hard to increase the numbers it is painfully obvious why they slowly fell out of favor nearly 100 years ago. Though rare and visually stunning they cannot equal the number of eggs some of the top laying hens produce in a peak yearly cycle. Swedish Flower Hens average around 150 eggs over the course of 12 months. Compare that with the nea…

In Winter

I enjoy winter when it arrives at the homestead. Though the gardens are long since dormant there is still plenty to do.The rabbits and the chickens need constant care. A couple of times a day I have to break ice from the animals water and make sure they have enough warm bedding.

I don't mind though. No matter how cold it gets. There is poetry in the garden during summer. Birds sing with triumphant melody. Soft summer rains baptize new growth. But the winter features a more solitary form of art. For the most part there is a resonating silence that is a canvas for the occasional temperamental gust of wind and snow. These same squalls force the breathe from my lungs and scatter the frozen mist before my eyes. Then, once again, there is silence. As any good steward I try not to disturb this peace. If anything, I try to move unnoticed among it.

When it is cold enough the trees will produce an individual moan as they threaten to splinter in the darkness of the woods. They all have their…

The Land of Plenty

The idea that I am about to present to you is certainly nothing new. Wonderful organizations such as Ample HarvestPlant a Row for the Hungry and countless food banks and pantries across the country have been confronting the issue of hunger in our communities head on for some time.

Food insecurity is a cornerstone of the human condition. A little research will lead you to discover a long history of charity in opposition. For example, the seventh century Irish Benedictine monk St. Fiacre who was a master herbalist eventually settled in France and practiced a reverse tithe by keeping 10% of his harvest while giving away 90% to those less fortunate.

Life is complicated, as we all know. There are no easy answers to any of the problems that plague our society but there are some very simple issues that could be addressed that could in turn have a ripple effect on a number of other dilemmas such as poverty, health and even violence.

According to the USDA 40% of the $161 billion dollars’ (yo…