In the squash family, Cucurbitaceae.
Emily and Hannah planted the seeds in cell packs in the back room of our duplex in Seward in Minneapolis. We were crazy busy during April getting ready for the plant sale and market, and the melons and squashes were the last seeds to be planted. The seedling mix we made ourselves from perlite, vermiculite and coir(cococut fiber) that I bought wholesale in huge bags. We wore dust masks while mixing it up. As this process was going on, our landlady knocked and said she wanted to come through with the housing inspector. While I knew that that was going to happen this day, I hadn’t really given it much thought, and realized it looked a little weird to have this little factory with masked workers in the back room. Was I even allowed to conduct business from my home? Was it a problem that we made a giant mess that involved indoor mud and hazardous dust? Even though it was cold, I herded the girls outside. Apparently the inspector was only concerned that the landlords were maintaining their rental unit suitably, and recommended that they paint the trim on the garage, replace a cracked pane of glass and put a railing on the basement stairs. So we were safe. And the pumpkins got planted.
As the sprouts came up they were moved to the greenhouse, where their stems elongated in the excessive heat. Eventually they got planted in hills in the garden at dad’s. Not many went to the plant sale or market, because they weren’t big enough in time. So there were lots of extras. The pumpkins, ‘New England Sugar Pie’, took off. Or took over rather. In the past we’ve had some issues with squash vine borer, but they weren’t bad this year. Maybe because we reinstituted my mom’s old practice of planting marigolds everywhere. First they shaded out the Bells of Ireland, then they inched in on the eggplant’s turf, hemmed in the yams and smothered the cucumbers. Luckily, though space in the garden was at a premium, we could guide the vines over the garden wall towards the wooded hillside. Once they cleared the fence they could run rampant as they pleased. And they did. As summer ended we started poking around for the fruits and found them everywhere. When the vines started to die back we rounded up 50 pumpkins, each about the size of your head.
So we had to find homes for them. Dad gave away a few to a friend’s children, and the neighbor kids. Michael and I decorated our partially packed-up apartment with about two dozen of them for our going away party, and made people take them as favors. The rest maybe in my dad’s basement, I don’t know.
We packed our moving truck so efficiently that there was space in back for 6 pumpkins and a few paper bags of squash and peppers among the houseplants.
The first one I cut up went entirely into Sweet Afgahn Curry. The next was cooked and pureed and half was used in a pumpkin-currant scone recipe I got from the National Trust newsletter article about a gentleman in northern England who made a living selling pumpkins. The other half was in the fridge too long and became sketchy. So to make a pumpkin pie, Michael’s favorite, I cooked another. I just get out my biggest knife and hack it into a few pieces and put it on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 F for about an hour.
We ate half the pie last night with vanilla gelato. Tonight we will eat more while watching a movie. That’s enough about pumpkin for now.