By Gail Thomas
Pumpkins are a favourite for the home gardener and the cook – nothing like a bowl of warming pumpkin soup or roasted as an accompaniment to chicken or other meat. For something a bit different why not consider planting spaghetti marrow/squash or gem squash as these varieties have ‘strands’ of textured flesh similar to fine spaghetti, hence the name. Read more
A cornucopia of produce
I’ve had a cornucopia of cucurbits this year, with lots of ‘Black Beauty’ zucchini and and bright yellow button squash. The pumpkins are not producing as prolifically because I planted them in an out of the way position with not enough sun, but the plants are still growing and the pumpkins are getting bigger. Unfortunately, for the last few weeks the powdery mildew has also been growing. Powdery mildew is a fungus that attacks cucurbits (zucchini, marrow, pumpkin, cucumber etc) and grapevines, some fruit trees and a range of other plants including begonias and roses. It first appears as pale grey spots on the surface of leaves, spreading to cover the whole leaf and stem. If untreated, eventually the whole plant will shrivel, brown and die. Powdery mildew is most prevalent in moderately dry regions, when the weather starts to cool in autumn and where water sits on foliage for long periods. Almost counterintuitively, it is less likely to be a problem in wet weather as well as very hot, dry weather.
Last weekend saw a celebration of old cultivars and varieties of both fruit and vegetables. At Diggers Heronswood, Dromana it has been the Harvest Festival Weekend with a really beautiful array of pumpkins and squashes, garlic for sale and tomatoes to taste. Nearly all of these are heirloom or open pollinated varieties that are so important both for our gardening history and our future. Heirloom and heritage varieties are an integral part of organic gardening, many are the result of selective breeding over numerous generations so that they show special characteristics.
Turk's Turban, Delicata, Potimarron, Australian Butter, Buttercup and Bohemian are just a few of the heirloom varieties of pumpkins available to grow.
Heirloom varieties of squash, gourds and small pumpkins