Oh pumpkin, my pumpkin.

Last year, we discovered the world of pumpkins. As fast as neighbors dropped off their unwanted autumn decor, we scooped them up, identified them, and saved the seeds. We had a list of pumpkin varieties that we’d never even heard of before!

This year, we shared the seeds with our neighbors, passed some along to family, and saved some seeds for ourselves to plant around the farm.

Here’s what we planted: Marina di Chioggia in the rabbit poop area of the old chicken yard, Mellow Yellow on the northeast corner outside of the pasture, Kakai hull-less at the base of the Jerusalem artichokes, and the Long Island cheese at the base of the raspberries by the old chicken coop.

So so so many pumpkins. Each with a different reason for being here.

Marina di chioggia: flavor, beauty, color (inside and out)

Long Island cheese: keepability, a great storage pumpkin

Kakai Hull-less: the seed flavor, the seed color (green), the uniqueness of the seeds

Mellow Yellow: for the external color of the pumpkin (bright yellow)

The one big thing that surprised me about growing pumpkins was how blazing fast they sprouted. We planted the seeds in little 2×2-inch soil blocks. They sprouted within a matter of days and seemed to double in size each day. Then, when planted, they continue their rapid, accelerated growth. Very inspiring.

Seeds are miraculous. They lie dormant…then under the right conditions (playing “You’re the Inspiration” by Chicago helps) they emerge from their growing medium.

The above pic is one of my trays of soil-blocked pumpkin seeds. I also have trays outside that are filled with beets, zinnias, basil, and carrots.

I wish more people grew gardens, but I’ll save those musings for another post…

My first batch ever of pumpkin butter

We have a pumpkin problem. I know I belong on an episode of “My Strange Addiction” or “Hoarders”–but, hear me out! What would you do if you were blessed with hundreds of pounds of beautiful, heirloom, nutritionally dense pumpkins (and the animals have had their fill)? You’d probably do what I’m doing. Invite them into your home and become fast friends.

These aren’t just “pumpkins”. They are (starting with the closest) black futsu, cinderella, jarrahdale, turk’s turban, peanut (Galeux d’Eysines), valenciano, and another jarrahdale. (NOTE: the black futsu pictured is the only black futsu we’ve received. I’ve heard incredible things about its “hazelnut-like flavor and tender skin”.)

A week ago, I believed that a pumpkin is a pumpkin is a pumpkin. But now that I’ve hefted, gutted, sniffed, tasted, explored and examined each pumpkin that arrived in our wheel barrow, I’ve learned to identify, discern and appreciate each unique “fruit of the vine”.

The messy middle

Just when you thought canning and preserving season was over! Hundreds of pounds of pumkins were delivered to the wheelbarrow next to our front driveway by nameless, faceless, generous neighbors. It’s a yearly tradition…and most of the pumpkins go to the animals–but a select few find their way to our kitchen where we gut them and process them.

Some will be cubed and bottled in the pressure canner; others will be cooked in the Instant Pot, pureed, then frozen.

The last sentence of the previous paragraph was the first time I’ve used a semi colon as an adult. So proud.