2nd Place Award for “Easy to Grow & Adds Color to the Garden” goes to Pumpkins!

pumpkin in vine

A nearly ripe pumpkin still attached to the vine (with all of the leaves removed)

Hello there! This post follows on from a previous post about what I think is easiest to grow in the garden. Since time is precious, we only plant what is easy to grow in our garden. In my view, the first place award of the “easiest to grow” contest belongs to garlic, but this is followed quite closely by pumpkins. We have found them to be very easy to grow, love how they brighten up the garden with their orange blossoms and the actual pumpkin, and especially love cooking and baking with them!

plant pots inside with cat

Potting up our seeds in a sunny hallway in April. The cat *usually* leaves them alone…

In late April, I usually start my seeds inside as we have a sunny hallway where they do well. The seeds are the seeds which I washed and saved from my pumpkins the previous year. The original purchased seeds were organic (of course!). In the picture above, my pumpkin plants on the right are well on their way, while my sunflowers on the left (shhh, those are my 3rd place winners for the “easy to grow” award!), have been planted later as I want them later in the season. Despite Kitty knocking over the plants, they survived just fine.

Four Pumpkin plants (in left bed, the right bed have yellow squash) in early June of our very dry, warm summer this year

a young pumpkin plant

a young pumpkin plant (2016)

bed of pumpkin plants and blossoms

Bed of pumpkin plants and their bright orange blossoms (from 2017)

I have only grown baking pumpkins, although there are many different varieties of pumpkins. Basically, I want pumpkins for soup and pumpkin bread, so I tend to stick to what I like. 🙂

Did you know? There are male and female pumpkin flowers. This one is a male, standing high above the plants.

When it comes time to move your new potted plants outside, it’s important to not just throw them out into the wide open world without first acclimatizing them. It takes about a week. I’ll usually leave them outside during the day and bring them in at night. By the very end of May, after all chances of frost are gone (hopefully!) and we’ve given them their daily-dose of ‘outside weather’ for a week, I’ll plant them in a sunny spot in the garden.

compost in a wheelbarrow

Compost from our garden

Pumpkins love compost. Sure, what plant doesn’t? I work LOTS of compost into the soil. From what I read, they also like water, but I’ve never had an issue with needing to water them any more than other plants (haha! I do live in Ireland though…). We did have a very warm and dry summer last year, actually, and all of my pumpkins matured by the end of August! I’d never had that happen before. They are normally still green in October!

female pumpkin flower atop of baby pumkin

A female flower atop of an immature fruit

After they’ve settled in to the bed, the first flowers to appear will most likely be male. There are normally more male flowers than female, and the female flowers will bloom later in the season. But honestly, I don’t pay attention to any of this (or I haven’t in the past), and everything just falls into place when it should. I’ve always had between 6 to 12 pumpkins per season, which is fine by me.green baby pumpkin

Pumpkins start out (very) green!

small pumpkin hanging from the vine

pumpkins prefer a sunny spot to “hang”

pumpkin growing in an ornamental grass

This pumpkin wasn’t fussy about where to grow… Can you see it in the ornamental grass???  It’s not like I planted it there!

different sized pumpkins

pumpkins grow in all shapes and sizes

Normally, near the end of the season I cut off all of the leaves of the vines to help the sun to ripen the pumpkins from green to orange. This can also happen after they are cut from their vines. To prolong the life of the pumpkins, you should leave them a bit longer in a sunny spot, after cutting from the vine. It is best not to leave them sitting in the soil though, especially at this stage. I’ll either have them sitting on flat rocks or I’ll bring them onto the front porch area.

pumpkins and yellow squash in garden

Pumpkin bed (on left, yellow squash on right) in August

pumpkins and sunflowers

Cut free from their vines, the pumpkins can end up anywhere in the garden for photo shoots! (2017)

Oh! I forgot to say that I also like using pumpkins in my photographs! That orange (and even when they are still green) is just fabulous!

pumpkins, apples, pears, sunflowers in the garden

Our fall garden (2018): pumpkins, apples, pears, and sunflowers!

pumpkin in sunlight

Isn’t that beautiful?

pumpkins and red apples

I love the colors of the red apples and orange pumpkins!

I really like having pumpkins in the garden. It is great fun to see how many we’ll get, and how fast (or slow) they turn orange. Pumpkin is a taste that I think people either love or hate, there is no in between! There is also nothing like the taste of fresh, homegrown pumpkin!

pumpkin cake on a plate

We call this “pumpkin bread” but really, it should be called “pumpkin cake” as it is so delicious!

I’ve linked our pumpkin bread recipe, but I need to update it to include the crumb topping we now always add.  The original recipe is still awesome, it is just that bit more awesome now!

pumpkins in the garden

pumpkins can be found anywhere in the yard for photo shoots…

I keep our house decorated with a fall harvest theme until Thanksgiving.

pumpkins and scarecrow decorations inside house

We have a fall harvest theme in our house until after Thanksgiving!

Only after Thanksgiving do we start to decorate for Christmas.

pumpkins with santa hats

Christmas pumpkins (No way! It’s too soon!)

Haha! Sorry, I just had to use the picture with the santa hats!  🙂 Back on topic; What about you? What do you think are the easiest things to grow in the garden? I’d love to know!

In peace,
Dana

 

 

Good Enough

My veggie / fruit section of the garden

I haven’t written about the garden in a while. I’ve been beating myself up that it isn’t good enough to photograph, or talk about, or inspire.  Not.Good.Enough.  What??? Over the past eight years I’ve created a garden that brings me right to my happy place. How can that not be good enough? Admittedly, five years ago, this same patch of garden looked somewhat different, and perhaps more inspiring:

Purple Brussels sprouts, pumpkins, and squash in my 2013 garden

In fact, when I visited that blog post recently, the garden blew me away! Seriously, have a look. That did NOT help my feelings of inadequacy for my current garden! But so much has changed since then. The biggest change was that four years ago I went back to work after being a stay-at-home mom for 16 years. 16 years! Wow! I was lucky. I loved it. And now I am glad to be back working (outside the home) too… except that means a lot less time for taking care of the garden. It means that my view of what is Good Enough has had to change. And today I am stopping myself from saying it isn’t good enough, to saying it most certainly is Good Enough!

a cluster of our pears – almost ready for picking

our pear tree with a few handfuls of pears

I will focus on the good stuff: Our fruit trees.  We have one pear tree, one “eating apple” tree, and one “cooking apple” tree (Arthur Turner), and they are all filled with fruit this year! I must give credit to my husband for tidying up the base of our trees.  Ideally, the clearing should match the width of the branches, so every year as the tree grows, the clearing should be widened. It had been a few years since this task was done, so it was a big job this year. After all of his digging, he then worked a lot of our compost into the soil.  I think the trees look neat and tidy, and rather pretty if I do say so myself! (although perhaps slightly tilted?!)

funny, my husband doesn’t think this tree is leaning ever so slightly …

Fabulous combination of pretty and delicious!

I don’t have a variety name for the eating apples. They are sweet, and delicious tasting.  The cooking apple variety, Arthur Turner, are not sweet, and definitely need sugar when used. They are usually a greenish yellow color, but this year they have a pink hue.

do you also see the slight tilt on this tree too???

a pink hue to our Arthur Turner cooking apples

This year I planted pumpkins, squash, and sunflowers. As surprising as it is to hear, Ireland experienced a drought this summer. So some things in the garden didn’t quite thrive.  My sunflowers bloomed very early and died very quickly!  I cut off a few large heads, and have dried them to use the seeds next year. The rest are still in the garden for the birds to enjoy.

My daughter was helping me take pictures of my lavender wreath (which is in her hand) when I took this picture of the sunflowers. Kitty also enjoys being in pictures, just not posing for them… Off to the right you can see my leaning gladiolus The Dark Knights. I sense a leaning theme.

A bird eating the seeds from a sunflower

It is worth leaving the dying flowers for the birds to feast on the seeds, even though the plants look unsightly!  I love seeing the birds in the garden. It is worth having the dead plants there just for them 🙂

a common Blue tit sitting on one of my sunflowers

this is what the flower head looks like when you leave it in the garden for the birds to eat – lots of seeds missing!

The pumpkins also had an unusual growing situation this summer. Similar to the sunflowers, they ripened much quicker than usual.  Honestly, it is usually around Thanksgiving time (November) when mine finally turn orange!  This year they turned orange in August…

Four pumpkins completely orange in August…

They have provided a lovely splash of color in the garden, along with the summer squash.  (I stopped picking the squash many weeks ago, but they still provide beautiful color!)

nearly ripe pumpkin … in August!

There are two more pumpkins in the garden, but they have chosen to grow and ripen at the normal rate for us albeit in an unusual place:

this pumpkin is growing in ornamental grass (this was not planted by me!) and will hopefully turn orange right around Halloween 🙂

I tend to be rather hard on myself. When I stop and pay attention, I do of course appreciate that I have worked quite hard to create my happy space of a garden.  “Good Enough” was never an expression I would have accepted years ago.  But now I know that it is much more important to appreciate what is in front of me.  I might need reminders of that every now and again, but I do now accept that Good Enough is Perfect!

I hope you have enjoyed the views in my Good Enough garden!

In peace,
Dana

There were only a few gladiolus stems this year (due to the drought) but they were still pretty!

 

 

 

 

 

The vegetable garden’s summertime review

Organic Pea Karina

Organic Pea Karina with a sweet pea flower

Life has seriously gotten busy recently, so I do apologize for having neglected my blogging, and for not having visited your blogs as well.  I am very much looking forward to sitting down and reading what all of my gardening and cooking blogger friends have been up to!  When exactly that is going to happen is another story…

My last post was about my summertime flowers.  I feel I have split loyalties, between my flowers and my vegetables.  I do love having both of them, but when it comes to taking pictures the flowers are just a wee bit more glamorous.  And I love taking pictures!  I’ll do my best to show off my vegetables looking fab (which might just be covered in muck!).

Red Robejla organic onions

Red Robejla organic onions

My red onions did very well this season.  That picture above is of them before I dug them out.  They were very nearly out of the soil already.

Red Robelja organic onions

Red Robelja organic onions

I think I will try and grow more next year.  There doesn’t seem to be a lot there!

A nice size Robelja onion.

A nice size Robelja onion

Red Robejla organic onion

Red Robejla organic onion

After the stems started to dye down, I dug them out and placed them atop of my garlic bed which had already been cleared.  We were lucky enough to have some dry weather so I left them there for a week or so.  They are now finishing their drying in my back room.

My onions drying out

My onions drying out

I’ll throw in a picture of my potatoes for good measure. They are not glamorous, but they did taste good!  Sarpo Mira is the variety, which is blight resistant. I’ve grown them for 2 years now.  I think next year I will be adventurous and try a different variety.

Peeled spuds

Peeled spuds (Sarpo Mira)

I have only one picture of my carrots and it is not pretty!  They are good large, sturdy carrots ( organic yellowstone), not like the orange ones you typically see.  But they taste good!

Organic Yellowstone carrots.

Organic Yellowstone carrots.

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

Talk about winning the prize for the least glamorous vegetable!  My Brussels Sprouts were completely covered with caterpillars on a regular basis.  What I’m sure would be beautiful leaves if left uneaten by those critters, is simply ugly after all of that destruction.

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

We do have sprouts!  I’m really not sure if they will be worth it though. That process of picking off caterpillars is really for the birds.

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

Did the critters leave anything for us?

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

Organic Brussels Sprouts Rubine Red

Another view of the least glamorous vegetable in the garden.

Another view of the least glamorous vegetable in the garden.

Let’s talk pumpkins!  We planted pumpkins in a few different spots, but they thrived in one bed in particular.  Guess I know which bed had the best soil! Pumpkins like a lot of food.  Also, to get bigger pumpkins, you can cut the vine after the pumpkins are formed which will force all of the energy to go into growing the pumpkin and not on growing the vine and further pumpkins on the vine.  The problem is, I really like the flowers!  🙂

IMG_0701Not to worry, I did get some pumpkins and their size will do just fine for me.  They are baking pumpkins, actually, so would be on the smaller size anyway. I have quite a few photos because I thought it was neat to see how the color changes.  I only have a couple that are orange, but the rest are on their way.

In the beginning...

In the beginning…

A long, long time ago...

A long, long time ago…

My favorite pumpkin with a perfect shape!

Phew!  Finally a size that is respectable!  My favorite pumpkin with a nice round shape.

Two hangin' together.

Two hangin’ together.

The two hangin' changing color!

The two hangin’ and changing color!

Love the speckled look.

Love the speckled look.

One orange pumpkin!

One orange pumpkin!

This is the same orange pumpkin, but with my foot in the picture which shows you how small it is! (the pumpkin, not my foot)

This is the same orange pumpkin, but with my foot in the picture which shows you how small it is! (the pumpkin, not my foot)

Can you believe how many photos of pumpkins I've taken?

Can you believe how many photos of pumpkins I’ve taken?

I’m moving on from pumpkins. I have a feeling you’ll be seeing more of them in my blog throughout the fall.  I bought a globe artichoke plant in May and I am so glad I did.  I didn’t manage to eat any of the artichokes, but the benefit of that is that they form really interesting flowers!

Globe artichoke Cynara Scolymus

Globe artichoke Cynara Scolymus before blooming.

Oh but wait, it gets much better!

Globe artichoke Cynara Scolymus

Globe artichoke Cynara Scolymus in bloom.

Globe artichoke Synara Scolymus

Globe artichoke Synara Scolymus

The entire plant is coming into bloom!

The entire plant is coming into bloom!

Globe artichoke Cynara Scolymus. Something interesting to look at.

Globe artichoke Cynara Scolymus. Something interesting to look at!

The globe artichoke plant is so different from anything else in the garden, and I love that.  I must show you how that particular garden has really shaped up this past year.  That will be for my next post!

But before I go, I’ll leave you with some more flower pictures.

I hope your schedule is less hectic than mine has been!

Dana

Fall roses in my silver sugar bowl.  Just because.

Fall roses in my silver sugar bowl. Just because.

Fall roses tumbling down!

Fall roses tumbling down!

Fall flowers from the garden in my Polish Pottery vase.

Fall flowers from the garden in my Polish Pottery vase.

Fall flowers in the evening sunlight.

Fall flowers in the evening sunlight.

Oh yes, I definitely favor flowers to veggies for pictures! 😉

The garden in November.

Orange Pumpkins!

Orange Pumpkins!

November?! Really?  I hope you won’t have forgotten me, as it’s been too long since I last posted!  I’ve missed you. 🙂  Lately I’ve been wearing two of my many different hats; Mom of Swimmers hat, and Mom of Irish Dancers hat.  We’ve all been working really hard!  After two months into the full swimming schedule our girls improved all of their racing times at the first swim gala (meet) a couple of weeks ago.  That’s a great way to start the season.   Our three Irish dancers have been working since the summer towards the Ulster Championship Feis, which took place this past week in Donegal . It’s harder for the littlest one to keep that focus for so long, but she did well. (She’s finally making progress on keeping those feet turned out!)   My kids also dance on teams, and it is just fantastic to watch as they keep their straight lines and perfect formations while dancing around the stage!  We are so proud of them.  They all danced their best, which is all we could ask for. It is rewarding to see the kids really putting their all into their activities and to watch them improve through their efforts.  Sometimes it takes more work than other times, but thankfully we’re all going in the right direction!

As for my Mom in the Garden hat, I too, have been putting in some “hard work”.  It’s called weeding!  The fence line is pretty much in constant need of clearing. I really like how it looks after I get a section finished.  It’s nothing glamorous, not really even picture worthy, but if it isn’t maintained it sure is noticeable! If you know me, you know that I’d rather spend a week weeding than even think about using chemicals.   I just think it is better for the environment and better for us.  The hard work is worth it, and it is great being outside.

Anyone curious about my pumpkins?  I had very green pumpkins when I cut them off of their vines in early October.  https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2012/10/09/the-race-is-on-green-or-orange-pumpkins-for-halloween/ I brought them inside, and placed them in sunny locations.  I was completely skeptical that they’d ever turn orange, they were *really* green,  but turn orange they did!  Little by little, the jack-o-lantern pumpkins completely changed color.  My cooking pumpkins were much slower to change, and have more of a marbled look.  Doesn’t matter, I am looking forward to making some pumpkin soup!

Pumpkin soup, and lovely orange pumpkins to decorate with.  Yes, that will be perfect for Thanksgiving in a few weeks.  No rushing into things for me!!!

Happy November 🙂

Dana

Beech hedging changing color  in October.

Beech hedging changing color in October.

Weeding along the fence of beech hedging.

Weeding along the fence of beech hedging.

A bird party on our house!

A bird party on our house! A little distraction while I was weeding.

Early morning mist on the apple tree and blueberry bush.

Early morning mist on the apple tree and blueberry bushes.

My favorite fall picture (so far!).

My favorite fall picture (so far!).

Calendula (apricot twist) still going strong!

Calendula (apricot twist) still going strong!

Burgundy Ice Floribunda Rose in October.

Burgundy Ice Floribunda Rose in October.

The race is on: Green or Orange Pumpkins for Halloween?

(still very green) Pumpkin.

(still very green) Pumpkin.

It’s October 9th and our pumpkins are green.  I think they are quite pretty, in their different shades of green.  But maybe I’m just trying to make the best of the situation; the situation being that pumpkins are supposed to be orange!  Starting to panic a bit, I checked on-line to see if I could help things along.  I’m glad I did!  Since their vines are fine, I’ve left them outside.  I could have cut them and brought them in, though.  What they really want now is sun.  Some of the leaves were in the process of dying back, letting in some sun,  but there were still too many for this late in the season. So I cut back all of their leaves. Perfect timing too, as it is a beautiful sunny morning.  I also have to keep in mind that they should be covered at night if there is frost.

So the race is on …  Will we have orange pumpkins for Halloween?  I’ll be sure to let you know!

Dana

Pumpkin Patch mid-season.

Pumpkin Patch mid-season.

Pumpkin patch October 9th.

Pumpkin patch October 9th.  We have just 12 pumpkins in all of those vines!

Speckled Pumpkin.

Speckled Pumpkin.

A lighter shade of green (and some orange?) Pumpkin.

A lighter shade of green (and some orange?) Pumpkin.

My upside down pumpkin.

My upside down pumpkin.

Butternut Squash.

Butternut Squash. This little guy, 4 inches long today, was a bit of a surprise!  We thought those seeds hadn’t taken.

A butternut squash & flower.

A butternut squash & flower.

Fall harvest time in Sheepwalk.

Fall harvest time in Sheepwalk.  Those are some very tall haystacks!

An August garden tour – Potatoes, Blueberries, Pumpkins, and Apples!

I love having a vegetable garden.  It is really cool going out into the yard and picking something for dinner.  Yeah, and at the produce shop, I have a little conversation with myself that goes something like this: “No, I don’t need to buy potatoes ’cause we have lots of them. Nope, I don’t need any zucchini cause we have too many of them! And no, no peas for us this week because we have them, too!”  And I smile to myself 🙂

I like it.  We’re still learning. And growing. And changing.  But I think it is all good.  I tend to only put “pretty” pictures in the blog.  I’ll change that this week.  One picture shows what should be the pretty pumpkin flower, but this one is eaten by slugs.  We have had so many, many, many slug this year!  It’s amazing we have an abundant harvest given how much was sacrificed to slugs.   We’ll be changing the layout of the fruit orchard this winter.  The strawberries needed more space than we planned so we’ll be spreading them out.  Now about the pumpkins: they take up a lot of space!  But I love seeing their flowers so late in the summer.  We’re hoping for some pumpkins this year – if they survive the slugs!  Luckily, our potatoes haven’t been affected by the slugs.  Our main crop variety of Organic Sarpo Mira are delicious.  The soil is excellent after the compost worked through it.  It’s quite easy to fork up the spuds, wipe off the dirt, and boil them up!  I think they just might be our favorites of the garden (for the moment, anyway).

I hope you have access to fresh garden vegetables this summer!

Dana
P.S. I changed my blog around a little bit. I hope you like it!

A view of the fruit orchard. The rhubarb has been cut, strawberries are overgrown, and the pumpkins are taking over! Apple trees are happy.

Another view of the fruit orchard. The blueberry plants on the right aren’t very big, but we were surprised by all of the yummy fruit!

Our eating apples coloring nicely.

The pumpkins growing like crazy.

Pumpkin flowers.

O.K., here is the ugly picture: the flower on the right has been eaten. I decided not to show you the picture of the slugs 🙂

I have a bunch of these tiny little pumpkins … I’m not sure if they are too late to develop fully. We’ll have to wait and see.

My “Before” picture of some of our blueberries.

The “After” picture of some of our blueberries! They were sweet and delicious!

The bed of Organic Sarpo Mira potatoes, our dinner’s worth, and the fork to lift them out with!

They really are a great size! We’re delighted with their taste, too.

I have to have a picture of flowers in my post! This was about 6 PM this evening. After yet another very wet day, the evening was simply beautiful. And for that I am very, very thankful.