Pumpkins, squash & saving some seed for next year..

Posted November 17th, 2012 by Rob Bob : )»

Pumpkins & squash...
I have been most impressed with the Pumpkin & squash that we have grown so far this year.. We are growing 3 varieties of pumpkin, jarrahdale, baby bear & kakai..
Jarrahdale is one of the popular large grey skinned varieties that is found in most fruit 'n' veg shops.. This is our first year growing this variety & am yet to see a pumpkin.. The female flowers are just not forming once they have been fertilised.. Fingers are crossed & am fairly sure we will end up getting some fruit set soon..
The baby bear pumpkins are thriving growing up the side of the chook house & along the back fence.. At the moment there are 10-12 fruit on the plants with more female fruit forming all the time : )»
These are a small "single serve" pumpkin that are said to have a very sweet flesh.. I think one of these little fellers would be enough for 2-3 people to enjoy roasted & have read of people making pumpkin soup from the flesh then serving the soup in the shell... Might just have to try that methinks & will post the results when I do..

The third variety we are growing is kakai pumpkins.. These grow on a small bush & only produce 2-5 fruit in a season..
They are grown mainly for their green hulless seeds that most people know as pumpkin pepitas.. They are reported to be very beneficial in keeping men's prostrates healthy.. We are growing 3 plants in an IBC bed & are most pleased with the way they are maturing.. Hopefully we will get a second fruit to form on each plant after the first ones are harvested.. I am thinking that if we grow them next year we will plant them out in a barrels as bed space is of a premium & we could be growing more productive produce in there..
We are also trying spaghetti squash for the second year.. The plants we grew last year went in a bit too late I think.. We lost all the fruit to bug attack so I am pleased to see we have a few fruit on this year but think the plants could be doing a bit better.. They are supposed to have about 4-6 fruit on each plant but so far they only have one healthy fruit maturing on each vine.. The flesh of these fruit turn into a delicious (so we have been told) pasta alternative once the fruit has been cut in ½ & baked... I shall show the process with the first fruit we cook...
Simmy suggested that they may need some potash so we gave them a good dose of Powerfeed, which is high in potassium, this morning..
We plan to save seeds from all the above mentioned plants so hopefully the plants we grow next year will be more acclimatised to our growing conditions & provide us with better yields..
**crosses fingers**

Saving seed..
One of the best ways to help your plants grow to their full potential I think is to try & grow seed saved from a previous harvest.. For this you need to select open pollinated, non hybrid seed varieties that are also called heritage or heirloom seeds.. The best way to start is to pick the healthiest looking plant to save seed from.. We like to single out one plant to save the fruit or seed from & have even gone as far as planting out a whole crop just to save the seed so we know we will have seed available to sow next season.. What happens is (hopefully) you will be saving seed that will slowly become acclimatised to your area & weather conditions rather than taking pot luck with seed grown & packaged in another climate or even hemisphere..
Anyone that has attempted to grow lettuce in the subtropics will know how hard it is to keep purchased seedlings or plants grown from commercial seed from bolting (going to seed) prematurely.. One way we have tried to combat this is by saving seed from the last plant that goes to seed from a crop.. So far it has worked well for us... I have done a few clips to explain how we collect the seed from a few different plants with lettuce being the latest..
We like to use The Seed Savers' Handbook by Michel and Jude Fanton as a reference book.. I find it very easy to follow when trying to work out the best way to save seeds from plants we have grown.. I don't always follow it to the "T" but it is a great book to fall back on to get ideas..
Learning how to save seed is probably one of the oldest traditions on the earth & one I intend passing down to my children to help them provide food for their families & friends..

Harvests from the patch..

We have been enjoying a loads of salads this week with the high temperatures making hot meals appear very unappealing....
This salad was made with kale, mangle, beetroot, lettuce, rainbow chard, Thai basil, opal basil, honey pod pea tips, green beans & yellow cherry tomatoes.. It was finished off with a few sliced Kalamata olives & some crumbled feta cheese.. Absolutely loving the tossed salads this year now we have a great variety of greens to mix.. That is the last of the pepinos for a while as the bush has been cut right back to encourage some new healthy growth & we had to arm wrestle for the lone strawberry in the picture.. Bianca won but that outcome was never really in doubt..

We also picked the last of the tomatoes from the feral plant out the front..
It must of been a determinate variety as all the fruit appeared to ripen in 2 flushes then the plant just packed it in..
The girls & I have been enjoying them over the past few days on sourdough spread with labneh cheese we make from our home made yoghurt.. I Did make the mistake of adding some yellow chilli the other day... Taste tested one & found it to be a mild chilli so cut up a second & sprinkled it over both pieces... BIG MISTAKE!! My lips were burning for about 2 hours afterwards.. Shall be taste testing EVERY chilli from that plant before adding them again..

That's about it for this week..
Hope to do a test on molasses sprays to stop caterpillar attacks on greens this week so I can report back my findings for the next blog..
Have a great one all..
: )»

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