Sunday, March 6, 2011

There she grows again: The Great Pumpkin Experiment

For me, gardening is basically one experiment after another. Some are successful and some are, well, they don't end in an "oh, wow- I can't believe that worked" moment.

Anyway, last fall, I did an experiment with pumpkins where you put pumpkins, seeds and all, outside and have them wait until spring to send up volunteers. This is something I had read about on the Internet and decided to try thanks to the lovely owner of Indigo Bath & Body, who completely inspired me with the following, which she posted to her Facebook page:
Last year we held our green wedding at our dearest friend and maid of honor's farm, Blossom Hill. As part of the decorations, we used a plethora of pumpkins. After the wedding was finished and guests toted home all the pumpkins they could carry, farmer Melissa took what pumpkins remained and saved them for us for next season. Once spring came, sprouts of pumpkin vines started poking their heads through the grasses in the field. Now we've come full circle, and harvest time is here. This is the last crop ever to be grown by Blossom Hill, and they'll be be harvested and used in our Harvest Pumpkin soap.
(It sounds so romantic, doesn't it? Now, I should warn you that if you absolutely must have pumpkins for fall, I do not recommend this method. I would go with more traditional methods. The jury is still out on my untested, accidental-at-best method.)

Inspired, here's what went down:
  • We carved our pumpkins. And, as usual, that was fun. Normally, we'd roast and eat the seeds. This year, we just dumped all the seeds into a large, white bucket. That's it. No rinsing. No separating. Just dumping. And, then they lived on the back deck for a spell.
  • Shortly after Halloween, I retrieved the carved pumpkins from the front steps. Now, to be totally honest, I have no idea how much time went by. I know it was longer than I had intended, but before Thanksgiving. Long enough that it had rained and I wondered what that would do to the seeds since they were now floating in the bucket.
  • I took those pumpkins and placed them on what I like to think of as the slippery slope of the backyard. I call it this because it is sloped and nothing really grows there except some daylilies. But, it gets a decent amount of sun and could be useful if I gave it some attention. Also, it is a not-so-subtle reminder of what the entire yard could look like if I don't give it the attention it needs. This alone scares me right into action.
  • I filled the pumpkins with seeds from the white bucket. Let me just say that I recommend rubber gloves for this. It was not entirely unpleasant, but it was not pleasant, either. I don't think the aforementioned rain helped.
  • Then, because there was a lot of extra space remaining in the pumpkins after I added the seeds, I decided to cover the seeds inside the pumpkins with peat and sort-of mixed it around feeling very witch-y all the while. My very scientific explanation for why I did this- it just seemed like they would be more stable on the hill if they were sufficiently filled in and weighed down. And, because I had peat in the garage, I used that. This is really ridiculous when I think about it now because peat weighs next to nothing. But, whatever, it's what I did.
  • Then, I walked away, braced myself for winter and prayed for an early spring.
This morning, I went out to the yard to do a quick assessment. I decided to check out the slippery slope. And, in an area that was once a pumpkin, seed and peat pile I found this:
Could it possibly be a pumpkin seedling?
It looks similar, but it can't possibly be one, can it?
In March?
Only time will tell...


  1. You are so funny! Never knew you had so much going on- it's awesome!

  2. Thanks, Reagan! You have a lot going on yourself! Hope today is going great and I can't wait to hear all about it!

  3. Love this, Shawn. I hope it's a pumpkin!!! Fingers crossed.

  4. Thanks, Da Doo Run Run! I am almost positive it is a pumpkin seedling because there are 4 more that have sprouted right next to it and one is still half in its casing. That kind-of takes the mystery away, but it's okay. A few yards away, I have 4 more coming up from another pumpkin. It is so much fun! We have two cold nights ahead of us, tonight and tomorrow, and if they make it, I will update next week. You should try this, it was fun!

  5. I thought that this semi scientific growing experiment was in perfect keeping with your new blog...wonderful! As I mentioned, I could just picture you swishing together that soupy peat/seed/pumpkin mush mixture and had to smile.
    (I remember those carved pumpkins too. We worked very HARD on those & I'm glad to learn that they had an afterlife!!) Your own personal pumpkin patch this year maybe? That should be fun. Keep up the good work!