One of our late winter projects is ordering seeds. The catalogs get spread out on the kitchen table and Mom, Dad, and I flip through beautiful pictures of pumpkins, squash, and gourds. It’s hard to even think about fall or Halloween in early March, but orders need to be placed soon. We compare our lists from last year and decide to order more or less of a specific variety depending on its previous yield and sales. Dad usually finds the oddest-looking gourds like Warted Mix – small-multicolored gourds covered with warts. Mom and I like the heirloom pumpkins –Marina di Chiogga, the white Valenciano, and the French Rouge Vif Detampes or Cinderella pumpkin. Long Island Cheese, whose shape reminds us of a big wheel of Gouda, is the base pumpkin we use in our Pumpkin Maple Butter. The fun shapes and unique colors of the heirloom pumpkins allow for creative fall decorating. We love to stack them and make our “pumpkin topiaries”.
By the time we finished placing our orders from five different seed companies, with each of our “wish lists” satisfied, we ended up with about 40 varieties of pumpkins, 25 kinds of winter squash, and an assortment of 10 different gourds. A seedy job done. The next challenge – a good spring season conducive to getting all of these seeds planted! But after a long winter’s rest – none of us mind the outdoor job and chance to breathe in the fresh spring air.
Even if we end up ordering a few too many seeds, not much goes to waste at the farm. Last year our left-over misshapen pumpkins ended up at a wonderful place. In November, my friend Vicki (we go back to high school days), who works at the Buffalo Zoo, contacted us to see if we had extra pumpkins. We loaded up the zoo’s large dump truck and Vicki took them back to the animals. I guess the bears and elephants love them. She also explained that when the animals are given whole foods, they have to break them open making it more challenging and stimulating for them - and who doesn’t benefit from a good dose of Vitamin A?
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