Pumpkin and Tomato Pullin’

You may recall that temperatures here began regularly reaching into the 100’s last week.  Not particularly liking to walk the garden to pick fruits when it’s muggy and 85 first thing in the morning, my body quickly gets into the “rip it up” mode.

Yesterday’s rainstorm put me in the mood (it’s now a full 20 degrees cooler), but it also put the mosquitoes in the mood.  I hastened my plant destruction chore — yes, rain significantly helps keep the mosquitoes off — and pulled all ten tomato plants and the rest of the pumpkin vine while it is still cool outside.   Mockingbirds wasted no time picking off surprised, juicy caterpillars, between the rain drops.

The garden carnage now laid out in a uniform thickness on the back lawn, I will wait for a drier day when it’s time to mow the grass (uh, I’m lazy and prefer to let the lawn tractor do the chipping chore for me).  That should clean things up sufficiently in this awesome, chemical-free, work-free garden — until it all repeats next season.

Pumpkin flesh and seed getting ready to be cooked

I will purée and dice what tomatoes we don’t eat today and tomorrow to freeze and use in sauces and soups.   We find tomatoes tremendously easy to keep and eat.  We keep them on the counter at room temp until we’re ready to slice and eat.  If there’s a cut or worm hole on one, I’ll put it in a covered container (to keep the fruit flies contained), but it’s rare when any ‘maters are given privileged fridge real estate.  Even with the tremendous yield we’ve had this season, tomatoes have been eaten predominantly fresh, given away, or diced and used in soups and sauces.

I love pumpkin.  They keep well, better than summer or zucchini squash.  The pumpkins will keep for a while longer — and it’s hard to beat a weekly homemade pumpkin-and-coconut milk pie.   Occasionally, I’ll shred them for muffins or in pancakes.

I still have to figure out what to do with all these green tomatoes.  Fried green tomatoes are hard to beat, but I can’t fry them all — my arteries might simply explode with delight.   So I’m going to attempt this Southern Food at About.com Chow Chow (Piccalilli) recipe.  It looks to be a delicious relish (thanks, Mammaw, for giving me ideas!).

The Last Tomato and Pumpkin Haul of 2012 (and a few Bell Peppers)

Four of the tomato plants were doing sufficiently good enough (the one’s in the mulched, untended ground) to try one of Bubba’s tricks.  I cut the trunk of the plant 6″ from the ground, piled cooked compost around it, and mulched heavily.  Bubba, an old-timer 3rd generation food-grower, claims that this will encourage the roots to feed and produce a whole ‘nuther producing plant in the early fall.  We’ll see.

Until then, I still have two lovely cherry tomato volunteers (sweet bites of juicy goodness!) and six bell pepper plants to enjoy.  The okra should be coming up any day.

Bermuda grass?  No longer a problem!!  Any stolon runners I did find in my prepped beds were strays that had set root well outside the box — they apparently found it difficult to take root in the fluffy stuff.  The layers of cardboard (blocking mother plant propagation) and building up apparently did the trick nicely.   St. Augustine runners (our turf grass of choice) are easily removed from the heavily mulched areas just outside the box.   Just pull back and snip with some shears.

I’m delighted to say, that after battling with it in my garden for three years, Bermuda grass and I have reached a truce.

I wish I could say that of the mosquitoes.

* * *

The girls get ready for a cool-down in the pool bladder.

Happy Summer and Gardening, be it poolside or enjoying the beauty from within the air conditioning!

20 thoughts on “Pumpkin and Tomato Pullin’

  1. It looks like quite a haul there! How about canning some of those tomatoes? Is this really pumpkin harvest time for you? I guess you don’t grow any jack-o-lanterns then huh? That would take some getting used to. Great post.

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    1. No canning yet…we ate most of them off the vine. Six mouths, remember? I have a smattering of green maters left which I will use to can relish. As for pumpkin, we’ll have another crop in the fall too, though maybe a little late for Halloween. I already see a couple ‘more volunteers coming up!

      I still walk my garden every day (out of habit). It looks barren. Still too hot to plant anything, but not too hot to get the ground ready.

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  2. That pumpkin and coconut milk pie sounds great. One of our early attempts not to waste something that is usually wasted was centered on a halloween pumpkin, which we decided needed to be eaten rather than trashed. Between the maple pumpkin soup, pumpkin seeds, roasted pumpkin, pumpkin pie, and a few other things I can’t quite remember (it was 20 years ago), the thing kept Bonnie Lee & I fed for a week.

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    1. “…fed for a week.” This is the reason people traditionally grew them and stored them in the basement during winter months. The keep well, and one can feed the whole family!

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  3. Coconut milk and pumpkin pie? That sounds like heaven to me. We tried to grow pumpkins last year and ended up with one tiny, pathetic little thing that my son still wanted to carve for Halloween. Maybe this year will be better. My husband does all the gardening and has managed to cram lots of stuff into a small space. So far we have lettuce up the wazoo.

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    1. Hey, girlie. Welcome back from your hiatus!

      This is the time of year to drop some of the jack-o-lantern variety into a part of your yard for your very own pumpkin patch. Just make sure there’s nothing in the way — it will take over that area! I think, for your son’s sake, you should try again.

      My lettuce is doing great too, but the it’s coming out of the caterpillars’ wazoos.

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  4. Aw, cute little outfits! I am dying for a fried green tomato! I’ve yet to have one and I’ve been wanting to since the blasted movie came out two decades ago!

    Do those little pumpkins really make good pie? I always thought people grew them for more ornamental purposes? Shows you what I know.

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    1. There are many sizes of pumpkins. The smaller ones are called “pie pumpkins” for that reason! Pumpkin is a hardy squash that requires zero care while growing, and the fruit will sit on the counter of the kitchen for weeks to months until you’re ready to do something with them.

      I haven’t sowed a single pumpkin plant. Every year, 3-4 come up on their own as compost “volunteers” and I just step over them and harvest when it’s time. Now THAT’S lazy gardening!

      My pie tastes nothing of the canned-and-evaporated-milk variety that we grew up with. I throw the cooked flesh in the high-speed blender with a few yard eggs, coconut milk, raw honey, and spices and bake in a cookie crust.

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  5. Ah we are kindred spirits…I did some of my own rip-it-out style gardening just this morning. The sweet pea plants were all but passed and rather than walking through and picking (its nearing 95) I tore all of the plants out, sat on the covered porch with a huge fan blowing on me and picked from the pile on my left dropped the pods in the pail, and deposited the vine to the pile on my right…then off to the compost (where the chickens will finish the job! Lazy gardening- hell yeah.

    J

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    1. I love your style too, Jess! And I love freshly shucked peas. The only thing I’m missing is the chickens — no fair.

      I just went out to pick a fig or two (I don’t have many because our deer from last year is eating them). I looked down and my leg was COVERED with mosquitoes. I ran into the house to escape them, looked out from the glass door. It took them a while, but they all met me at the porch, just outside, bouncing along the glass. “Let me in…” they beckon. Creepy.

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