Pumpkin Picking in July

This might not come as a complete shock to you but I love pumpkins.  I love all kinds of pumpkins.  Pumpkins that we grow, pumpkins in a pumpkin patch, stuffed pumpkins that I can hug, pumpkins that light up, cupcakes that look like pumpkins, balloon pumpkins. I love them all.  
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I wear clothing with pumpkins on.  Even in December.  I love them!
Nets vs Bucks. Who's going to win?  THE PUMPKINS!

One of the most proudest moments of my life was a few years ago when I went to Target the day after Halloween and  found a giant light up pumpkin that I have been eying up for 90% off!  It was huge!  I needed it! I hugged it tightly and rushed to the register.    So off I went, struggling to carry and lug this guy home on the G train.  Some people smiled at me on the train, some people wondered why I was carrying a glittery pumpkin that had a power cord attached it.  But I did not care.  This pumpkin was mine and the world was a better place because of it.  We went on to name him Big Mr. Pumpkin.
The Pumpkin Family this year.
(Big Mr. Pumpkin shown here in the middle with his real grown brothers).

This was our first Christmas tree together in 2003, with a pumpkin on top.  We put it up in October and it stayed up until late January! 
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My pumpkin obsession started early on.   Besides my very strong feelings of all things Halloween, I have always loved growing pumpkins.   Even in the early years I could be found completely taking over my parents small back yard with my  growing all over  the place pumpkins.  I was so proud of this pumpkin.  I also kind of looked like Harry Potter.  20 years later, my eyesight got better so the Harry Potter glasses weren’t needed but I still love the pumpkins!
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 Today, the pumpkin love is still there, but even stronger. So when we planned on starting the rooftop garden years ago, I had one thing on my mind, pumpkins! Oh yes, we needed the orange warriors of the garden.    We have worked up to growing pumpkins twice a year because why not?  Why not have pumpkins all year in my opinion.  We grow one batch to harvest in July and one batch to harvest in October.  This means that this month I get to start baking with fresh pumpkin and I absolutely love it! 

My favorite things to make with pumpkin:
Pumpkin Rolls
Pumpkin Muffins
Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese
Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin Brownies
Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Those are my go to pumpkin recipes and I love each one dearly!  Over the next few weeks I will be sharing a few of those and I will continue to share them throughout Fall so when October and November rolls around, we’ll be pumpkin set!  Once you bake or cook with fresh pumpkin puree you just got out of a pumpkin, you can’t turn back to the canned stuff.  You just can’t.  It’s delicious, it’s beautiful.  It’s oh my, I love you pumpkins, kiss me please.

So let’s not wait any longer, let’s meet our pumpkins we just picked!

A few details first about these guys:
Pumpkin seeds were planted on April 22  and transplanted outside May 20.
We grow both Jack-O-Lanterns and New England Pie variety.
They were picked from July 18-July 20.
I hand pollinate pumpkins in the very early morning when the female flower is open with Q-Tips and love.  
Although some people only cook with pie variety pumpkins, I find nothing wrong with using Jack-O-Lantern puree and often use it for baking.
Pumpkins biggest enemies are powdery mildew and aphids.   The kind of seeds we buy are resistant to powdery mildew. If you see aphids, squish them up with your hands ASAP.

You do not need a big yard or field to grow pumpkins, we grow ours in containers!
They were grown in 27 gallon containers.
Sub irrigated planters work great for pumpkins!
Jack-O-Lanterns plants are grown in their own container. (1:1 ratio)
New England Pie are grown 2 plants per container.
Leave your pumpkins roam, let them stretch out and take over.

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Baby pumpkin seedlings, getting ready to go into the big scary world.  But it will be ok babies!

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In just a little over a week one of the seedlings in the picture above turned into this.  As soon as they move into their container and can spread out, the plants grow quick!

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And then I start waking up very early to hand pollinate with a Q-tip.   You will know by that later that evening or the next morning if it worked or not.  This one was a success!

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Then they get bigger a little at a time…

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And greener.   And when they get dark green, you will start to see those orange specks of color pop out…

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And then you wait until they are completely orange! Can you tell the difference with the one up top and the one down bottom?  The one down bottom is still slightly green, give it about 2 more days…

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And then it will be ready!

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Oh pumpkins, you beautiful darlings you! You make me so happy!

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You really do brighten my day.  You’re my pumpkin sunshine!

Great job pumpkins this summer!

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I will see you soon!  Your brothers, the next batch of pumpkin seedlings, are already growing tall!  They will be moving outside soon enough and the cycle repeats..
See your orange beautiful selves in October!

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Love,

The proudest pumpkin mama in the world!

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