If you like Halloween, and if you haven't already, just imagine growing your own pumpkins. A single vine can yield a small holiday supply -- two vines would insure enough for Thanksgiving pies and even enough for a jack-o-lanturn carving party (don't forget to save the seeds for roasting and be sure the first pumpkin picked is made into soup, served to your guests at midnight).
Pumpkin vines are beautiful and they give your yard a nice, warm, feeling of home with just a touch of rural wiliness, like a late October night.
Pumpkins are the perfect heralds of Autumn, from the moment the tips of their stiff, prickly leaves begin to tremble yellow. Great pumpkins tell us the truth about time, about the weather, truth about the world and the coming winter. They look at us and make us look at ourselves in time, in the autumn year.
For those who love Halloween, the pumpkin is a whole lot more than a simple squash. Pumpkins are magical plants. Like banshees, they smile, they frown, and with the wind through their teeth, they even sometimes whistle and howl at the moon. They look at us with their glowing eyes making us laugh and wonder about the eerie, underworld of things...
Enough of those scary stories. Let's say "Trick or Treat" and pass the candy.
After Halloween, just as the colder weather is moving further down into the valley, bury your jack-o-lanturn in the garden, face pointing toward the sky. Let it become part of your autumnal soil turning ritual. With more luck than a Jet Black Cat, we will let "Jack, the Pumpkin King," take our place another year.
"May you become food for worms, Jack. So much richer the earth shall be. So much richer our garden shall be come spring."
The Pumpkin Cookbook
by Nicola Hill (Editor)
The Pumpkin Cookbook contains over 40 delicious recipes featuring this bright orange vegetable which must be the best known and most widely used of all the squashes. The recipes range from traditional favorites, such as Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, Pumpkin Soup and Pumpkin and Raisin Muffins to the more interesting and unusual, including Pumpkin and Ginger Ice Cream, Pumpkin Cookies and Pumpkin and Sage Risotto. The range of both savory and sweet recipes shows just how versatile this nutritious vegetable can be and proves that it need not just be used at Halloween and Thanksgiving time.
The comprehensive introduction includes fascinating information on the history and folklore surrounding this native American vegetable, which dates back to the times of the ancient Egyptians and Greeks. There are also fun ideas for carving pumpkins...
Another great Halloween and Autumn character is corn. If you have room, a few rows of corn can not only be several great garden party's worth of corn-on-the-cob, but the corn plants, if left in the ground to live and die, will become an excellent backdrop for Halloween and the coming Thanksgiving days. Corn fields -- even mini fields in the midst of the city -- conjure the feeling of time and transition. Autumn and the cold grey-browns of winter. You can also harvest the plants into a bundle and bedizen the porch. Add one or two dried Sunflowers and you'll be hearing the eerie screech of the Blue Jay. You might even attract a Woodpecker or a Gold Finch. Such creatures are truly children of the corn.
Other squashes can also be fun at Halloween. White pumpkins and large gourds can be used for carving scary faces. For fall and Halloween color, try mixing black and orange pansies in small to medium sized containers for the porch or for the space outside the kitchen window where the basil used to sit.
If you have lots of eggplant still on the plants the night before the Killing Frost, you can harvest them all, even the tiny ones, and put them in a large shallow bowl. On display they become huge berries only an ogre would consider eating raw. But the night after Halloween -- on the Day of the Dead -- All Souls Day -- you can cook them into a most delicious Ratatouille or Mousaka.
Eggplants are beautiful plants throughout their entire growing season. Even their stems give off a purple sheen and light. Some people grow eggplants just because they are beautiful.
Plant three or four four-inch pots in mid to late spring. They will keep you going for the summer. Six plants would be nice if you have the room. We carry an interesting variety each year. Oh, and we carry pumpkin and sunflower seeds.
With some planning, it is easy to conjure the magic of a New England fall into our gardens. Our particular region offers the needed changes that trigger the autumn color -- and we offer the plants that will respond to the changes our seasons can bring.
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