12 Apr 2013

Pumpkin Pickin' Paradise!

As the rain is threatening again I decided, during a dry spell today, to have another poke around the grass/weed infested pumpkin patch.
 I think I'm going to have a stall at the local markets on the 20th of April as I discovered another 31 that needed harvesting and there's at least another 30 remaining that could do with a fortnight or so longer on the vines. Pumpkin profits will go towards the new set of reading spectacles I'm currently paying off :).

That's the only problem with JAP's, as they are more of a squash, their keeping properties aren't as long as the hard skinned pumpkins like the Queensland blue or Jarrahdale. There will be lots of freezer cooking happening in the future and I'm definitely going to try the pumpkin soup cooked in it's own shell this time. Wondering if I should serve it with pumpkin scones, pumpkin damper or pumpkin bread?

While I was picking I thought it would be handy to post pics of when to harvest JAP pumpkins, which you can tell from the condition of the stalk.

So from the top down:
Thick, plump stalk all the way down to the pumpkin means it's not remotely mature yet.

Narrowing at the main stem end means it's beginning to dry off but will still be very juicy and will leak this juice from the stem if you break it off, accidently or otherwise. It also means a cut or broken stem can begin to rot so you need to put these upside down to dry off and ripen so any juice that leaks out doesn't just lay on the top of the pumpkin and begin rotting it.

This is a good one to harvest as not only is the stem pinched, dried up and dark looking all along it's length but the spots on the pumpkin are a nice orange colour indicating maturity. Compare this to the two above and see how the spots on those are much greener or paler.

The reason why I decided to see if further harvesting was needed. The stalk on this little pumpkin rotted off at the main branch stem and it shrivelled up by itself. Too much rain can do this. Notice how the spots are still light green and the base of the stalk is green. It will ripen slower than the mature one above and the flavour may not be as good, as it was parted from it's parent plant early, but it's quite edible.

Pumpkin Hunt :).
Search and you will find!

These 3 were in a shady spot under a pile of farmer's friends, stinging nettles, some other prickly obnoxious weed, bracken and the ever present kikuyu. As they were shadowed, and the maturing rate wasn't rushed along by the hot sunny days we've had here of late, they grew to quite a large size. I'll have to weigh them but from carrying them around I'd say they were about 3kg each.
I've been harvesting dressed in  either tracky pants or jeans, long sleeved shirt and my knee high rubber boots and often a hat to keep my head shaded and give something else for any spiders in the long grass to alight on as I bend over to collect pumpkins.
As I've had a request for the pumpkin scone recipe I thought I'd post it, and any other pumpkin recipes I use to diminish some of
this harvest, in the recipes pages as I make them. Link in the sidebar.

Robyn xo


  1. Robyn - how many pumpkin seedlings did you plant to achieve such bounty? :)

    Pity they don't last like the thick skinned ones...

  2. That's a few litres of pumpkin soup.

  3. Dani, I planted out 16 but 4 decided to come up later in the compost again so out of 20 plants I'll have around 71 pumpkins that I know of. So about 3.5 pumpkins per vine. It would have been more but the almost constant 6 weeks of rain meant soggy flowers that the bees couldn't germinate and I guess more would have meant a smaller size too. Anyway it cost me nothing and I have a great bounty of food and the means to do it again next year with the seeds saved. Can't complain about that :D!
    Cheers, Rob xo

  4. Hello Robyn - Great article and pics. Very helpful. My "unplanned" vine started in a worm tower in December. Now, end of April, it has pumpkins of various sizes and still getting flowers and young fruit. Have not harvested any yet. How long should the vine keep producing pumpkins before it dies off? Regards Wayne