One of my cats is cray cray. Fletch is a Bengal cross rescue cat named after Irwin Fletcher (Chevy Chase Fletch). He does lots of weird stuff. It might be the wild Asian leopard bit coming out. Fletch tears pumpkin leaves off the vine or should I say, SHREDS THEM VIOLENTLY. One day I was in the garden and heard loud tearing sounds behind me – Fletch was at it. Even if I’m inside at the back of the house, I can hear him doing it from outside. Creepy! He has done a hell of a lot of work considering I harvested 19 Jap (or Kent) pumpkins (Cucubita spp.) from a vine that took over 3 garden beds. In permaculture, we talk about ‘chop and drop’ mulching, Fletch has now coined the phrase ‘chew and drop’. Who knew Fletch would become a feline mulching machine? Whoever said the domestic cat had no function in nature? Clearly Fletch has been working his little kitty butt off in my closed backyard system.
P U M P K I N S E E D S F O R P L A N T I N G
If you have been growing some awesome pumpkins or you’re about to eat one, save the seeds! Seed can be saved one month after harvesting. If you buy pumpkins, the best bet you have of growing ones similar to your original pumpkin is to use seeds from open-pollinated and heirloom varieties. So try buying a pumpkin from a farmers market and ask the farmer.
1. Scrap the seeds from your favourite pumpkin with a big spoon.
2. Clean the seeds by separating them from the pulp then rinse well in a colander under water until they are completely clean.
3. Make sure they are dry and spread them in a single layer on a tray lined with baking paper. Place them in a cool, dry and dark location for about 3 weeks.
4. Keep them in a labeled envelope and plant when ready.
Sow seed in soil with a few handfuls of compost. Pumpkins love full sun, regular watering and fertile, well-drained soil. Being ground cover plants, they can take up heaps of space-be warned! They can also be grown all year round in tropical and sub-tropical climates. Native and honey bees are the usual pollinators so make sure you plant lots of flowers in your garden to attract them and they’ll do the hard work for you.
Pumpkins usually take 70-120 days to mature. I harvest when the vine around them starts to die and when they sound hollow when tapped. Cut them off of the vine with as much stalk as possible. Also try eating pumpkin leaf tips (throw them in a stir fry) as removing them also helps to contain the plants so they don’t take over! After harvesting, vines and leaves can be used for composting.
P U M P K I N S E E D S F O R E A T I N G
Pumpkin seeds are very high in magnesium, rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, fibre and a rich source of zinc.
s p i c y p u m p k i n s e e d s
1 cup pumpkin seeds
2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika
Pinch of hot chilli powder
1. Clean and rinse your pumpkin seeds (as above). Make sure they are pretty dry.
2. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees and line a large baking tray with baking paper.
3. Spread out the seeds on the tray and roast for 12 minutes or until lightly roasted.
4. While they’re still warm, place seeds in a large bowl then add the olive oil and toss. Add the spices, sea salt and toss again. A tasty snack with a few drinks or yummy with avo and toast!