Year one, I planted butternuts in a large pot and a fair bit of vine and lots of flowers, but it kept on drying out, so therefore no pumpkins.
Year two, butternuts again, and in a small garden bed. For my hard work I received two smallish butternuts that were very tasty, but there were just not enough of them.
Year three. Success!
I planted quite a few varieties but only three really grew well. In the photo are Australian Butter, Golden Nugget and Queensland Blue pumpkins that I picked yesterday. There are still about four more pumpkins on the vines still growing, and to my amazement I found a self seeded Butternut plant that has been pollinated amongst my tomatoes. I should get two nice sized butternuts as a gift from nature!
So, why was this year different than the first two? Well, I selected an area where the plants could stretch their legs, and prepared the bed with lots of organic manure and compost. I also ensured that each plant had more than enough water and that the bed was well drained. I set up drip irrigation to water them twice a week as allowed by water restrictions, and grey-water from our washing machine from just about every wash. When each plant got about 5 metres long, I pinched off the growing tips so that side shoots would develop female flowers. I then let the bees do their thing, and when I notice that they were not around, I tried my hand at pollination with some success.
When I harvested these seven pumpkins I kept as much stalk as I could on each of them so that they will keep for longer. I removed the vines that were attached to them, being careful not to disturb or cut the vines to the still growing pumpkins. I checked this morning and everything is still alive and well. Later on today, I will be putting all those vines into the compost bin to rot down into more wonderful hummus.
I love pumpkins in soup, scones, roasted, mashed, steamed. There are just so many ways to eat this wonderful vegetable. I reckon we will have enough to get us through winter, and maybe into next summer at this rate!