jack o lantern

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

Peter, Peter pumpkin eater,

Had a wife but couldn’t keep her;

He put her in a pumpkin shell

And there he kept her very well.

Well I don’t know about Peter, but the kids have started their pumpkin patch and something tells me they’re going to “keep it” very well.  Woo-hoo! We’ve got ourselves a pumpkin patch!  (It’s that dark patch of dirt beyond the main garden.)

And let me tell you, these kids deserve a round of applause and a pat on the back because it took some serious weeding work to get this garden in shape.  Two months of summer break took its toll.  (Yes, I was in charge of upkeep but a gal gets busy over the summer–and it was hot.  Very hot.)  But not to worry–the weed warriors were here! 

They came–they saw–they weeded something fierce and now we can see dirt again.  Unfortunately most of them were wearing it back to class (though I don’t remember hearing any complaints).  Wait until they get home, right?  But parents, take heart.  This garden is gorgeous! 

Isn’t it wonderful?  And our new pumpkin patch.  First a quick lesson on the growth habit of a pumpkin and how deep we plant the seeds.  Got it?

Got it. Seeds in hand, the kids went to work planting and covering and most certainly dreaming of harvest.

Come fall, we’ll have both Jack-o-lantern and Early Sweet Sugar Pie (yum) pumpkin varieties–one to carve and one to eat.  Pumpkin pie, anyone?  We’ll also be saving the seeds, though one clever youngster kindly pointed out we could roast them.  True.  But don’t we want to save some for next year?

Remember:  we’re organic and self-sustaining which means we’re healthy and we produce our own seeds.  And fun.  We are all about producing our own kind of fun so this year we plan some totally awesome additions to the garden. 

Cooler than a pumpkin patch? 

Oh, WAY cooler.  How about a pole-bean fort, big enough to hideout in?  And speaking of hideouts, why not a sunflower hideaway?  Love it.

So stay-tuned and get your garden growing!  We’ve got big plans this year and for you kids interested in learning something new along the way, check the Kid Buzz section our website.  This week’s lesson for upper elementary was “Planting an Organic Garden” while lower elementary took it slow with “Know What You Grow color page.”  We don’t want to lose any first graders and the older kids always enjoy a review.

Test next week. 🙂  


Got Pumpkins?

Make pumpkin pie!  And yes, I’m talking about those pumpkins from your front porch step.  In our effort to become less “environmentally wasteful,” the kids and I carved out our pumpkins, tossed the stringy mess into the compost pile, saved the seeds for roasting and/or next year’s crop and commenced to cookin!  We found this great recipe online from www.pickyourown.org and it worked like a charm.  And it’s a heck of a lot easier than I would have imagined!

pumpkin pies

Once you completely carve the pumpkin, you cook it.  We steamed ours stove top, but they have instructions for microwave and oven, too.  Because we didn’t have a steamer big enough, I put a metal colander inside one of my biggest pots, cut the pumpkin into large pieces, then covered it with tin foil.  Twenty minutes later – cooked, squishy pumpkin!  It peels off the skin with little or no effort, then you place it into a big mixing bowl and add sugar (we used organic, purchased from our grocer), spices, evaporated milk and eggs.  The recipe is enough for two pies, unless they’re both deep dish.

Tip: use a hand blender or mixer.  We didn’t, and ended up with cooked egg whites “floating” in our pies.  While it didn’t affect the taste, it did detract from the appearance so be forewarned — in case you’re gifting your pies.   We did cut corners a bit and used the store-bought prepared pie pastry, covering the edges with foil so they didn’t burn, which means we can’t officially say it’s from scratch – but pretty close.  And really, shouldn’t we let those who have perfected the business of pastry get credit?  (But if you’re a die hard scratch cook, go for it.)  We then placed them in the oven for about an hour and they were delicious!  Check my recipe page for full details.

As to next year’s crop, keep in mind you’ll have to plant in June if you want pumpkins by Halloween, as it takes 3-4 months to reach maturity, and beware the rainy season.  Pumpkins are susceptible to fungus and mold.  For more details on growing pumpkins in Florida, go to UF’s solutions for your life.  It’s a wonderful resource for real life gardening.