Saturday, September 15, 2012
Frost is appearing in local weather forecasts. We decided to gather up the orange colored pumpkins if they passed the fingernail test. Ripe pumpkins are described as having a hard skin that will resist puncture from a fingernail. Orange pumpkins passed the test green ones did not. Finding this nearly eaten pumpkin inside the fenced area closed the decision to harvest now.
We planted one hill of pie pumpkins. Frequent water runs were made during the drought to try and save the melons that were planted near the pumpkins. That water saved both the pumpkins and the squash. All of the pumpkins have scabs where they healed wounds that may have resulted from rodent bites. We will soon open two pumpkins to see if the flesh is edible despite their outward appearance.
A glimpse of a rodent in with the plants was made once. The only impression from that encounter was that the rodent had some size. A dozen strawberry plants are near the squash but we got no ripe berries. The mystery rodent took all of them. It also ate several of the watermelons. We call this our wilderness garden because of its remote location. We expect to share on a limited basis with the critters that live here but if the pumpkins are not edible traps will be set.
The butternut squash did not pass the fingernail test but we decided to take the tan colored ones now. Becky found two sources that claimed that squash will ripen if they are placed in the sun. The farmer at the local stand says that once squash are picked their development ends. We will find out how this variety responds to harvest now. Some appear fully ripe while others still show some green on the skins.
This is our partial harvest from one hill of squash and one hill of pumpkins. Nearly as many green ones are still in the field. We have never before had plants that produced like these did. Vines measure more than twenty-four feet in length. Blossoms and baby fruit are still appearing on these vines. Carried water, clay soil and abundant sunshine combined to produce a record harvest.