Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Purely Pumpkins!

As August offers cooler nights and we turn our calendar page to September, it signals the arrival of our Un-Official Pumpkin Season!  So many of us love pumpkins of various kinds, for a variety of reasons.  There are pie pumpkins to lend flavor and texture to pumpkin breads and pies; you might add a teaspoon or two of my favorite pumpkin pie spice blend (recipe below) to enhance your culinary creations.

There are specialty pumpkins in shades of blue-gray and blotchy orange patterns.  Of course, traditional ORANGE pumpkins can be found at every farmers’ market, grocery store or pumpkin farm! But my favorite in recent years is the PURE WHITE PUMPKIN.   White pumpkins often sell out quickly, so the solution to this shortage (in a year of excessive shortages everywhere…)  I grew them myself!

Pumpkins are in the genus Cucurbita, and they do grow true to seed.  This means the seeds I saved from an 8-inch diameter white pumpkin last year were planted in MAY 2020, and they will produce white pumpkins.  I planted just ten seeds in MAY that I had rinsed off and placed on a paper plate late last year.  I like to write directly on the paper plate since I don’t wish to mix up my seeds: “white pumpkin for 2020.” Then I stored the paper plate in a cool, dark place till planting time in spring. Vines emerged quickly, and soon there were orange pumpkin blossoms in the pumpkin patch, being pollinated by bumble bees.  (Blossoms are the same shade of orange, whether they produce WHITE or ORANGE pumpkins.  Nature is full of surprises!)

As pumpkins develop on the vines, they turn a deep green shade, and gradually transition to a creamy white.   I like using white pumpkins for both indoor AND outdoor fall d├ęcor starting in early September.   Sometimes summer floral container planters can transition to fall with the addition of a pumpkin or two, and a clump of dry grasses or corn stalks. (I often remove the annuals that look tired or have dried up; then add dry grasses, corn stalks, mums and pumpkins to container.)

Enjoy every aspect of autumn this September:  pumpkins, harvesting veggies, farmers’ markets, pumpkin farms AND especially autumn baking!

Lynn’s Pumpkin Pie Spice Blend:  

Stir ingredients together with a fork; store spice blend in glass jar in freezer. Can use in pies, breads and in vanilla milkshakes too!   

3 TBSP. ground cinnamon (I prefer Indonesian cinnamon; just use your favorite.)

2 tsp. ground ginger, 2 tsp. ground nutmeg, 1-1/2 tsp. allspice, 1/2 tsp. ground cloves

M. Lynn Schmid,   Certified Master Gardener

A.A.S. Landscape/Horticulture/Arboriculture

Autumn Display