Our pumpkin patch is becoming more ridiculous every day.
Perhaps I should have checked the descriptions of the varieties I was buying, rather than just choosing names that I liked. But as I sifted through packets of heirloom seeds at last autumn’s Malvern Show, I had no idea what monsters lay within.
When vines started scaling the veg patch fence, I assumed they would grow nice compact gourds that would hang prettily as they ripened. As they reached rugby-ball proportions, Steve said something about Monty Don using hammocks to take the weight of pumpkins that he grows up poles. So I tore a pair of tights and rigged up supports for two particularly big ones that were threatening to take the fence down with their weight.
In two weeks they have gone from this…
Now that they’re taking shape, I’ve identified them as Blue Hubbard – evidently a mammoth variety. Since they are bursting out of their tight-hammocks my latest tactic is to prop them up with any suitably sized pots and troughs we have lying about.
I Googled ‘Blue Hubbard recipes’ to see if it was really going to be worth sacrificing our fence for them. Apparently they taste great, but are a real beast to get into. One recipe suggested using an axe to crack them open, and said one gourd can feed a family for a week. Maybe M can take some in for her nursery’s harvest festival. If she can carry them.
Turk’s Turban – at least these are growing on the ground
Despite the Blue Hubbard dominance, we do have a few Turk’s Turbans quietly lurking. They seem to be developing nicely – and a little more sensibly – on the ground. I have popped bits of tile underneath the gourds to stop them rotting if we get a lot of rain.
that’s more like it – something that can be tackled with a kitchen knife rather than an axe
I also spotted a couple of bright green ones growing this week. The plants are all in such a tangle that I can’t trace the route from the fruit back to the label. But I think they are a variety called Acorn Table Ace.
Sadly the other two varieties we grew – Marina di Chioggia and Butternut Ponca – seem to have been completely overwhelmed by the brutish Blue Hubbards. I waded into the patch with wellies and gloves on earlier to have a good rummage under the scratchy leaves, but can’t see any signs.
vicious vines that irritate my skin, as well as threatening to crush the fence
I’m going to reserve final judgement until we’ve harvested and attempted to cook this year’s crop. But I reckon when I’m buying seeds for next year, I’ll be reading the packets more carefully. I might also remember to give the plants a bit more space.
You can see what the squash plants were up to a month ago here.
Have you experienced pumpkin domination in your garden? I’d love to hear about it – or get some recommendations for more manageable varieties.