Tomatoes and Pumpkins and Winter Squash, Oh My

With a period of sunny and (mostly) dry weather I was able to get in the field and do a little maintenance work on my tomatoes. I weeded around each of the plants and I used my broadfork to aerate the soil in the walkways. My field has poor drainage so the heavy spring rains created long-lasting ponds around some of the plants. The standing water removed the oxygen from the soil but oxygen is very important to soil health and plant growth. Broadfork to the rescue, which allowed me to manually break up the densely packed soil improving the aeration and drainage.

broadfork
Check out the lower clay layer

All the tomato stakes are in the ground and I have just began to tie my plants, I use a version of the Florida weave. Some plants of are big, while some are small and stunned but pretty much every plant looks really lush and green. During my staking I even saw some green tomatoes and I saw lots and lots of grass, the primary weed in this field.

tomato rows

It is not even officially summer yet but it is time to start thinking about fall … at least a little bit. I have recently planted all of my pumpkins, gourds, and most of my winter squash out in the field.

pumpkin rows

I know it seems crazy to make space in your farm (or garden) right now for fall’s super stars. But pumpkins take about 100 days to grow and mature into those beautiful orange orbs. So you need to plant your favorite pumpkin varieties in the next 3 weeks to make sure you have a bountiful pumpkin patch before the frost and in time for Halloween (yup pumpkins are sensitive and will die from the frost).

I sell 4 different varieties of pumpkin seedlings at the farmers’ market:
Baby Pam – the classic orange 3-4 pound fruits, great for craving and perfect for eating.
Crown – with a denim blue color these 6-10 pound fruits have thick orange flesh that make the best pumpkin soup.
Winter Luxury – deep orange skin with a silvery netting these 6 pound fruits make the perfect decorations that you can use later in your favorite pie recipe.
Musque de Provence – a show-stopper of a pumpkin this French heirloom weights in around 20 pounds with a dusty green and pink skin. Sometimes called a Fairytale pumpkin as it looks like it popped right out of a story book.

Winter squash is similar it also needs to planted in the next 3 weeks or so to be able to harvest mature fruit before the frost hits and kills the plant, damaging any fruit on left the vine.

For people who love winter squash but have a tight space for gardening or only have containers don’t worry I grow a couple varieties that don’t vine and are actually bushes like a zucchini plant.

The 4 different varieties of winter squash seedlings that I sell:
Waltham Butternut – elegant 9″ tan fruits weighing 4–5 lb. Orange dry flesh has a sweet nutty flavor and excellent keeper.
Burpee’s Butterbush Butternut – smooth tan 2–3 lb fruits with small seed cavities and deep reddish-orange flesh. Grows well in containers.
Sweet Reba Acorn – compact bush habit, heavy yields of 1–1½ lb fruit. This is one of the sweetest acorns, flesh dry and substantial.
Burgess Buttercup – dark green fruits with golden orange, stringless flesh and sweet, rich flavor. Typically produces 10-12 (3-5 pound) fruits per plant. Often overlooked but this flavorful winter squash should not be missed.

winter squash seedlings
Winter squash seedlings

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