Fall is a bountiful time of year when lots of things are happening in the garden. Plants start to get ready for cooler weather, birds are gathering seeds, and the squirrels are very active looking for nuts to bury for winter. Fruits and vegetables such as apples, winter squash, kale, swiss chard, spinach, potatoes, and garlic are really to eat.
In September, the full moon is called the harvest moon. This special time of year signals the beginning of the fall equinox and the transition to colder days where plants begin to slow down. The energy of plants turns downward towards the roots as the aerial parts give up their seeds to wildlife and wither back to rest for winter. The darkness of night comes sooner and we say good night to the sun just a little earlier each day.
One of our family’s favorite plants to grow are pumpkins. The photo shows 5-month old Gus with his first pumpkin from the garden. Pumpkins are fun and easy to grow, just give them plenty of room to spread. In the Northwest, you can harvest pumpkins in October, just in time for Halloween.
In spring of 2011, TJ got some giant pumpkin seeds from a friend along with an entertaining video called Lords of the Gourd http://video.pbs.org/video/2140299292/. After watching the video, we were intrigued and ready to start growing giant pumpkins.
A few weeks after planting the seeds they were tall enough to transfer to the garden. They grew, and grew, and grew and by October we had three huge pumpkins. The heaviest one weighed 75 pounds! The others weighed around 60 pounds. TJ was able to carry them onto our front porch for Halloween.
Just like any flower or vegetable, giant pumpkins require fertilizer. Unlike other vegetables, they need lots of room to spread out. I plant mine in one of the raised beds and allow them to creep out and ramble through the garden. They are like some kind of crazy prostrate Jack and the Beanstalk plant. When guests come to visit, Gus always asks them if they would like to see our giant pumpkins. It is very fun for children to watch them grow. In the spring, we share seed starts with our gardening friends and many of them are now hooked too.