Garden Diary - October 2016

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It's Pumpkin Time
Thursday, 6 October & Monday, 10 October 2016

Pumpkin Time. The Iroquois knew this. Their Three Sisters gardens grew corn, in hills with pole beans and pumpkins planted when the young corn plants were about 6 inches high. Sprawling, vining pumpkins would be planted in every seventh hill. Or, the Hidatsa planted pumpkins in a row of hills, between the corn and beans. When the husks were dry it was time to harvest the corn. Beans were harvested when the pods had shriveled and dried, and pumpkins when their color changes to orange.

Interplanting like this has advantages. Beans provide nitrogen, which corn uses in quantity. Pumpkins shade the ground, reducing weed growth. Our style of planting relies on monoculture, with a single crop in large fields. Easy harvesting. Sweet corn is popular, harvested when young and "in the milk." Green beans, rather than shell beans. And pumpkins, used not for food but as decoration. Halloween jack o'lanterns, anyone?

Supermarkets have bins and boxes of pumpkins.

End of driveway farm stands have pumpkins for sale.

Garden centers strew a variety of pumpkins across the grass.

The New York Botanical Garden has a plethora of pumpkins on display,
through the month of October. The Everett Children Adventure Garden
has little pumpkins and big ones, behemoth pumpkins larger than this.

Pumpkins dancing on the rocks.

And a pumpkin headed scarecrow, (but the crow seems unconcerned.)

There's a two weekend event at Howell Living History Farm in Mercer County
on October 7th through 10th, and October 14th through 16th
cosponsored by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council.

The artist / carvers start with a pumpkin that looks like this.
Then their imagination is the only limit. No simple jack o'lanterns!

There are faces

and a cat or two

More intricate, a backwards clock that's "out of time."

This poor pumpkin was - despite the electric fence - tasted by a raccoon the night before.

Pumpkins as art. Not that sad, as these are not especially tasty pumpkins. I find their flesh to be watery and have poor flavor. I saw a current magazine special issue all about pumpkin recipes. Every one I read used canned pumpkin. Feh! But this entry is long enough. Culinary pumpkin delights - starting with real pumpkins - that's for another entry. Soon.

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