I think I must be the only person in Tiffin who dislikes pumpkin pie. Add to that the fact I do not knowingly eat maple flavoring in anything, and cannot even swallow one sip of iced tea, and I am afraid I might be regarded as definitely un-American.
Does it help that I love apple pie?
I just found the worst recipe I have ever seen. It makes my stomach uneasy just to read it. The author suggests a tasty breakfast dish can be made by stirring canned pumpkin into a dish of oatmeal, and topping it with pumpkin pie spice.
Did I mention I don't like oatmeal, either?
But my personal tastes don't really matter. Pumpkins are great decorations, and I have carved and cut many of them through the years. The first sight of a pumpkin at a farm stand is always a sign summer is past, and the holiday season is almost upon us - moving quickly through Halloween to Thanksgiving and on to Christmas - always before we are ready.
Pumpkins are fairly easy to grow. The seeds can be planted indoors about three weeks before the last frost is expected, and then should be transplanted into the sunniest spot available when the temperature is consistently in the 70s.
The best site is a small mound about 3 feet in diameter, and you can sow four or five seeds in the middle of this hill, spacing them 6 to 8 inches apart.
Ideally, there should be rich soil with good drainage. Be sure you have plenty of space. An average vine can be expected to spread up to 15 feet in all directions, with its roots the same size.
Because each fruit on the vine will be about 80 percent water, it is obvious plentiful watering is essential for good growth, with 1 to 2 inches of water a week. More is needed in hot or windy weather.
Water in the morning, at ground level when possible, to avoid wet leaves at night. The leaves are subject to fungal disease if they are left wet for long periods.
Growth is steady once the first three leaves have developed, and may spread as much as 6 inches a day in ideal conditions. The first flowers should appear 10 weeks after planting, and will only live for one day.
Baby pumpkins that are not successfully pollinated will turn yellow and wither. You can trim back the vines once the fruit appears
Your pumpkins cannot be hurried, and probably will need more than 100 days to reach maturity. When the vines wither, the green pumpkins have changed color, and the rind is hard, it is time to harvest.
Leave several inches of stem, and let your treasures dry in the sun for a few days. Cover them if there is a light frost expected during this time, and take them inside if there is a hard freeze.
And then there are the giant pumpkins.
I watched a program on PBS a couple of weeks ago about a contest for the heaviest pumpkin, and the winner was more than 1,300 pounds.
To produce something of this size requires dedication bordering on fanaticism throughout the growing season. Special seed varieties are used, and the pumpkin chosen to be the candidate receives attention not only every day but sometimes around the clock since protection from predators such as rabbits (or competing growers) becomes necessary in the final days.
The world record is held by Christy Harp, who had a 1,725-pound Atlantic Giant. Just think what that would do for your compost pile!