Pumpkins are such fun to grow. Every year we plant different varieties for size, taste and colour. This year we inter-planted the pumpkins with our sweetcorn, which looked lovely. The tall fluffy fronds of the sweetcorn and the low-growing sprawling mass of the pumpkins appealed to my ‘good-use-of-space’ aspirations! The idea came from the Native American Indians, who went one step further by letting beans climb up the stems of the sweetcorn – maybe we’ll try that next year! It’s called the ‘3 sisters’ and is a classic example of companion planting – the climbing beans use the corn stalks for support, the low-growing pumpkins and squash smother the weeds and the beans provide nitrogen to keep the soil in tip top condition. Perfect!
This year we planted ‘Big Max’, ‘Waltham Butternut’ and ‘Jack-o-Lantern’. The Big Max can grow to around 50llbs which I thought was huge, until I entered a pumpkin growing competition and realised that there are some proper whoppers out there! But he/she(!) tasted great – we made lots of soup and roasted the seeds. And then I’m ashamed to say that I got my seedlings mixed up and ended up planting indoor baby cucumbers instead of outdoor baby jack-o-lanterns, which unsurprisingly failed to thrive! And then there were the butternuts……there was a pumpkin that didn’t look like any I’d seen before (random seed in the butternut packet?) plus one or two small squashes, but otherwise not a brilliantly successful year in the pumpkin patch! But hey, the great thing about gardening is that there’s always next year!
Try out my recipes for roasted pumpkin seeds and pumpkin soup. At least they were a great success!