Saturday, April 14, 2012

Our Garden- Sugar Pumpkins

I heard that a chicken that eats pumpkins lays eggs with darker and richer yokes, so I have decided to test that theory and see if it is true.  I'm also testing using recycled toilet paper and paper towel rolls as starter containers.  I guess you could say that our pumpkins are almost a complete experiment this year.

I chose sugar pumpkins for our garden.  Sugar pumpkins are different from carving pumpkins and from what I've heard, are more popular in other parts of the world where pumpkins are eaten more often.  It seems that most Americans turn their nose up at the thought of eating pumpkin in anything except for pumpkin pie.  Interesting.

My mother and grandmother referred to this type of pumpkin as pie pumpkins which pretty well sums up the American view of pumpkins.  You either carve them or put them in a pie.  There's so much more to a pumpkin than carving a scary face into it or adding sugar, sweetened condensed milk and baking it for an hour.

The differences between a sugar pumpkin and a carving pumpkin are extensive.  A carving pumpkin is obviously more hollow on the inside with a thinner flesh.  Carving pumpkins are considerably larger and the flesh is more savory than sweet.  A sugar pumpkin has a much thicker flesh that is sweeter from the natural sugar contained in the pumpkin.  They are more solid inside with a smaller core.

Pumpkins keep for quite a long time after they are harvested if kept in a cooler environment.  Depending on how many of these seeds make it to full sized plants and how many pumpkins each vine produces will obviously determine how long we and the chickens get to enjoy fresh sugar pumpkin.  When stored sitting on cardboard in the cool basement, we can expect to have pumpkins all the way to July/August of next year.  No special canning or processing needed which makes them the perfect food in my book.  I am going to test that theory for accuracy this year by keeping an eye on them after they are carefully lined up on the cardboard in the area of the basement that I have designated for food storage.  Of course I'll have canning jars on stand by just in case I start to notice spoilage sooner than what is expected.

Another reason that I'm hoping these pumpkins take off (and why I'm attempting to get 18 plants) is not only will it feed the chickens, pumpkin and squash seeds are a natural dewormer for my little feathered friends.  That's right.  Chickens can get worms.  A lot of different types of worms to be exact.  The raw seeds ironically enough have a coating on them that paralyzes worms and lets the chicken's body dispose of them.  Those seeds combined with adding garlic to their food on occasion will result in naturally worm free chickens.  Now common sense tells me that when I add garlic to their food that it can possibly change the taste of the eggs when they start laying them so I'll have to keep that in mind and use the garlic sparingly.  Garlic will also be an addition to next year's garden.  I could kick myself for not doing it this year but who knew?  I sure didn't.

So... I'm keeping my fingers crossed that all 18 of these pumpkin plants grow and grow well.  In my quest for us to become more self-sufficient and cut out chemicals, genetically modified food and limit the things we have to buy at the grocery store, sugar pumpkins will be an excellent addition to our garden.  Sweets loves pumpkin pie so I imagine I'll be making a few of those.  I like pumpkin anything so I'm sure I'll be creating a few interesting and different pumpkin dishes this coming year.  The chickens will LOVE a nice, raw sugar pumpkin treat that will not only make them happy but will help them medically and make their eggs tastier for us.  The eggs that ironically enough I'll use to make Sweets' pumpkin pie.  It's kinda funny how those little circles work.

Happy rainy Saturday my friends!




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