Friday, October 12, 2012

19 pumpkins... {and how to ripen green ones!}

What's making me happy today? Our 19 heirloom variety "Small Sugar" pie pumpkins, that's what!

That we harvested what we did from just three plants is utterly amazing to me. Why? Early in the season I didn't think we'd get any fruit from our plants and was quite discouraged. First of all, our elevation is 900 feet, so our growing season is somewhat short. Second, while we had tons of flowers (both male and female) on our vines, we had few bees buzzing around. After a little research, I learned that the best thing to do was to fertilize the female flowers by hand -- we used a Q-tip of all things. And it worked! Of course if I'd have read the seed packet more carefully, I'd have known to plant borage, cosmos or other bee attracting flowers near my pumpkin vines for increased yields. All of that said, a harvest of 19 is fantastic!!

Yes, yes, I know a few of them are green. What can one do when Jack Frost stops by put pick them all? According to Gardening Know How, it is possible to ripen a green pumpkin:

Of course, like other plants, pumpkins ripen best on the vine. But when frost has killed your pumpkin vine, the best thing to do is to harvest those pumpkins, orange or not. A 4 inch "handle" is recommended to prevent rotting; since my kiddos did the harvesting for me, some of ours are shorter -- oh well. Next (and I haven't done this yet...) is to clean any dirt from your pumpkins. We'll be doing this tomorrow (Saturday) and will simply use water and an old washcloth (GKH recommends a diluted bleach solution, but I don't think so). Be sure to dry your pumpkins to avoid rot or mold.

Because pumpkins need sunlight and warmth to ripen, place them in the driest, warmest, sunniest spot that you can come up with; ours are on our front porch which faces the south. An enclosed porch would work very well. Finally, rotate green pumpkins so that all sides get some direct sun exposure; pumpkins that are partially green should be placed with the green areas turned toward the sun. If you're expecting very cold to freezing temperatures, it is best to bring your green pumpkins inside and place them in or near a window as the cold weather will prevent them from ripening.

Hopefully, those green pumpkins will be orange within a week or two! I'll take pictures to share how this ripening process goes, so stay tuned. :)

The orange pumpkins? Tomorrow we'll be making homemade pumpkin puree to go into the freezer and roasting pumpkin seeds for snacks -- num!

'Til next time,


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  1. Anonymous10/13/2012

    Congratulations! It is always so wonderful to see the fruits of our labor :) m.

    1. Thanks, Maria. :) Wonderful indeed!

  2. Yeah, I needed this info, as we did get frost already thus killing our vines, I wasn't really sure what to do with the green ones! Thanks for the post!

    1. Lesley, you're so very welcome! Our weather, while rather rainy at present, has been mild, so our green pumpkins are out on the front porch...can't wait to see how this works!


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