|Project by Radicalfarmergal||posted 1448 days ago||1858 views||1 time favorited||10 comments|
We planted sugar pumpkins this year. My sons and I had read a book about how some Native Americans planted corn, pumpkins and beans together, calling them the three sisters. The shade of the pumpkin leaves helps to block weeds and retain moisture in the ground around the corn and the beans grow up the corn stalks. We decided to experiment with this method and planted the three plants together. The experiment turned out great for the corn, which grew to enormous size and offered a very abundant harvest, but the pumpkin vines under the corn grew very slowly and developed powdery mildew.
When the pumpkin vines finally managed to escape to sunnier areas away from the corn, such as between the cabbage and basil plants and up and around the compost pile, they started growing rapidly and produced pumpkins like crazy. At least in New England, pumpkins appear to like full sun. Despite their slow start, we harvested over a dozen sugar pumpkins this year. Some were still mostly green when the first frost came and killed the vines, but we kept the pumpkins on a sunny, grassy slope and turned them regularly until they were all deep orange.
We just finished the last of our pumpkins, enjoying baked seeds, pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins, brownies and finally soup. As the weather turns colder and the wood stove heats the house, I also use the wood stove for cooking. Using a cast-iron Dutch oven, I made pumpkin soup for the first time. My DH and I thought it was really delicious (I won’t repeat my youngest son’s opinion) and very warming on these cold wintry days. I marvel that even though we are at the winter solstice, we are still able to enjoy food we have grown ourselves. Here is a rough estimate of what goes into my pumpkin soup:
Pumpkin and Barley Soup
The interior flesh of two small sugar pumpkins, baked ahead of time until fork tender
1 small onion
2 medium carrots (Ours were freshly harvested from our garden!)
2 celery stalks
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cinnamon
4 cups chicken broth
1 cup barley
salt and pepper to taste.
Put olive oil in a Dutch oven over a medium high heat and when it is hot, add the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, cinnamon and ginger and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring, until the mixture is lightly caramelized.
Add the barley, potato, chicken broth, and pumpkin and bring the mixture to a boil.
Turn it down to a simmer and cook for 15 to 20 minutes or until the vegetables and barley finish cooking. Season with salt and pepper and serve with fresh baked bread.
To all in the Northern Hemisphere, I hope you have a wonderful winter solstice. As a gardener, I love to celebrate the winter solstice because I know the days will gradually become longer and eventually the weather will become conducive to outdoor gardening once again.
-- "To forget how to dig the earth and to tend the soil is to forget ourselves." M. Gandhi