Friday, December 30, 2016

Potato-Pumpkin Patch Planning

One of my favorite Christmas gifts wasn't even an official gift. It was a Tupperwave packed full of roasted pumpkin and a Baggie full of seeds from said pumpkin, given to me on Christmas Day by sister Kathy. She had roasted the last of her pumpkins and shared the innards with me.

This wasn't any regular pumpkin. It was grown in her side garden from one of two seeds that she was given at a Garden Club of America meeting. The two seeds were direct descendants from a squash, introduced from Jamaica, that Thomas Jefferson grew at Monticello in the late 1700s: the Cucurbita moschata, commonly known as an Upper Ground Sweet Potato Squash. The word pumpkin doesn't even appear in its name, which comes from the fact that the taste of the flesh closely resembles that of a sweet potato. This suits me fine as I'm not overly fond of the taste of pumpkin, but love sweet potatoes. (Jefferson simply referred to it as a Potato Pumpkin.)

I'm saving the seed from this pumpkin in hopes of growing some Upper Ground Sweet Potato Squash in my pumpkin patch at Farm Dover in 2017, and sharing the seeds with any friends who have a large enough space in which to grow them. The vines are known to go crazy, spreading far and wide over the garden. The plant produces an abundance of medium-to-large bell shaped, tan-skinned fruit with moist orange flesh. Each fruit can weigh up to 20 pounds when ripe.

The Potato Pumpkin. Photo from

Every seed holds a connection to the past and to the future. I love the thought of growing a replica of the fruit that was grown in the gardens of the third President of the United States and I equally like the thought that if I'm careful about growing and saving seeds, I can help ensure the survival of this heirloom squash.

So while the seeds are on my counter drying for a week or two before being stored, I portioned out most of the roasted squash into my crockpot, added a bit of brown sugar and some pumpkin-pie spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and cloves) and turned the knob to low and let the mixture simmer away for most of the day.  Like magic, it turned itself into pumpkin butter that I'll use for spreading on my morning toast, adding to steel-cut oatmeal or for making pumpkin pies.

The remaining cups of roasted squash got turned into a creamy, dreamy pumpkin soup for lunch today.

I'm intrigued by the thought of saving seeds from my garden this coming year. I don't think it is all that hard and there are lots of reasons to try it. Here's 40 of them. My only other effort on this front has been to save some seeds from my nasturtiums, which I recently wrote about.

Nasturtiums seeds saved from my 2016 garden.
I'll let you know how my experiments in seed saving go and happily share the saved seeds. After all, Kathy only planted two and ended up with a yard full of pumpkins. 

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