The arrival of winter is always blessed by the pumpkin harvest, which will supplement our roasts and dips for the next six months or more.
Pumpkins store well, and the sweet-flavoured Butternut Pumpkins that we grow each year are particularly fine-grained and tasty. The foliage that has covered one large garden bed has died down to expose the pumpkins lying on the ground; once the fruit can be lifted up without still clinging to the vine (which has now ‘dried off’) they are ready for storage.
Storing this volume of pumpkins (and this is only half the crop) takes some planning, as they are particularly attractive to rats, well able to chew through the hardy shell to find nourishment within...
One approach (above) has been to store them down the back shed on fruit-tree netting in a large Perspex cylinder found at an irrigation exhibition; the sides are too slippery for rats to climb. The netting allows air to get in below the pumpkins to keep them from going mouldy.
Another time we stored our crop in an old chest freezer inside the house – again, with the pumpkins laid on netting to allow air to circulate.
This pumpkin crop was planted out in late Spring from two packets of seeds worth about $7.00. This one-metre diameter ring of seeds is planted in fertile soil around a drip-line for irrigation. Once these pumpkin plants get going and spread out over all the available garden space nearby there’s no way one can get in close to the original seed bed to water, so an under-vine hose that stays in place all through summer and autumn does the job of getting moisture up to the vine roots.