Competition Winning Pumpkin and the Consequent Glut…..!

Person Author: Helene Coleman Calender November 4, 2012 Posted Tags: , , , , , Comment 1 Comment

The allotment we belong to holds an annual Halloween pumpkin growing competition. We’d never grown a pumpkin before, but thought we’d enter and have it as another vegetable ticked off our ‘attempted to grow’ list. We were given a Big Max seedling in May which we planted into a circular trench to aid water retention (unbeknownst to us we didn’t really need to worry about that given this year’s summer deluge!). We dug plenty of compost into the trench from the allotment compost heap, minus the little bits of plastic bags and general non-biodegradable rubbish that inevitably finds it’s way into communal compost heaps, along with a couple of spades of straw. We thought the addition of straw would add aeration around the root system. We hadn’t read that this was necessarily the case, but we thought it was a good idea none-the-less!

After the initial planting we faced the May and June wash out which meant that we were hardly able to visit our allotment. By the time we did in early July, the weeds and taken over, although it was obvious to us that our pumpkin was starting to assert itself and grow, with a tennis ball sized fruit at the end of it’s, by now, rather large stem. We had read in various books and on blogs that we would have to select one fruit to keep for the plant to put all of its effort into. We were lucky, our plant self selected and once one fruit had become established, all of the other fruit died off quickly of their own accord. Needless to say, once we had cleared all of the weeds and we started to get a few warmer days, things really began to take off. A few feeds with tomato food seemed the really help the pumpkin along. By mid August we had what looked like a reasonably large fruit. Around that time we placed the fruit on top of a wooden board to help make sure that it didn’t rot underneath.

From then on, it took on a life it it’s own, still growing a little but slowing turning into that glorious classic orange colour. The competition came around last weekend. Unfortunately we weren’t able to be there as we were away at a wedding in Spain but our pumpkin was entered and won, weighing in at a massive 14kg! We were so excited when we got the message telling us we’d won. We’d barely managed to grow anything successfully this year and to be told that we had won filled us with a lot of confidence that going forward we can do this veg growing lark!

So we now have a glut of pumpkin. We’ve deseeded it and cut it into pieces but it still takes up at least two shelves of our fridge. Last night we had Pumpkin Soup. Steve fried 1kg of 2cm cubed pumpkin with one diced onion and two gloves of garlic for around 3-4 minutes then added 500ml of homemade vegetable stock and boiled for about another 5-6 minutes until soft. The mixture was blended into a thick soup, poured back into the pan and the juice of a lime, around 200ml of double cream and salt and pepper added. Steve also rustled up some homemade bread, hot out of the oven, to go with it. We have a lot of pumpkin coming up over the next few days…. with a Pumpkin Risotto, Pumpkin with Pappardelle Pasta and no doubt even more soup to come….still it won’t take away the sweet taste of winning the competition!

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