Allotment Pumpkins

Apparently the RHS think it’s a bad year for pumpkins and a good year for apples. I definitely concur on the apple front, but our pumpkins have been pretty good this year.

I think we were lucky in that we decided, deliberately, to grow smaller varieties of pumpkins and squashes, because I find the vast orange beasts totally demoralising: you can pretty well only get into them with a hatchet, when you do get in you have kilos of flesh to process and the discarded rinds fill up almost half a compost bin on their own.

The Turk’s Turban, although we only got two fruit, were delicious, and the small pumpkins grew three fruit after I stopped the rest, and the remaining vine is stubbornly producing one more now, long after it should have given up. The baby pumpkin is still green and about the size of a milk bottle, so it probably won’t cure by the time the frost hits, but if it doesn’t we’ll have green pumpkin to make chutney with.

The two big pumpkin vines were grown really for ground cover – just to suppress weeds and fill in areas of plot #103 that weren’t ready for a more sensitive crop. Both produced a single pumpkin after I stopped the other flowers setting, and although one was rather damp and had to be lifted onto a roof tile to ensure better air circulation and turned a fraction of an inch every day for a fortnight to get the damp area to cure, the other, planted in a weed heap by the rhubarb, is still roaring away, becoming more orange by the minute.

What we failed on completely was butternut squash. Not a single whole squash was produced all summer. We had one, but it split, and there are two about half-sized squashes, still struggling along on the vine, but to be honest, I don’t fancy their chances.

Looking at the cost, we paid £1.50 for our Turk’s Turban seed, grew five plants, planted out two and harvested two squashes, so seventy-five pence each. I have six seed still to grow this year, so if I get two more squashes (which is a bare minimum, I reckon) they will have cost around forty pence each – bargain! The other pumpkin seeds were all swaps, so they cost me nothing. The big beasts kept down weeds and counted towards our cultivatable area, so we avoided a weed notice, and the small ones produced three fruit for nothing, each fruit giving a couple of kilos of flesh. The butternut was an orphan plant left outside the allotment with a tray of siblings and a note saying ‘help yourselves’.

For all the pumpkins there was the cost of germinating in potting compost, the foliar feed was a home-made comfrey soup and the mulches on which they sat were also free (either cardboard or chippings, with roof tiles taken [with permission] from skips, so the cost there was less than pennies.

It may be a bad year for the RHS, but it’s a great year for plot #103!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, October 10, 2011


Blogger Joanna said...

We had a good year for pumpkins and a bad year for apples. We only have apples because a friend gave us four bags full. Our Turk's turban pumpkins are free as they grow in the manure heap because that is what the local farmers feed their cows in the winter as it makes the milk more tasty, so they say.

Our butternut squashes are also very late too and we are now just getting a couple growing. Maybe one will be big enough before the frosts. I thought it might have been due to our short season here in Latvia, but I guess it was the same for others too

October 10, 2011 at 8:47 AM  
Blogger Pegg said...

I've got one fruit from three plants - it's almost the size of a golf ball so I'm not holding my breathe for a big meal!!

October 13, 2011 at 10:44 PM  

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