Experimentation is the key to successful gardening. What grows in your area? What part of your area is best for a specific variety? Because variety-X will grow in your USDA Plant Hardiness zone, does that mean that it will grow in your county? in your own garden? in different places in your yard?
On June 28, I planted some Seminole Pumpkin seeds in soil blocks. One week later, they were well-sprouted and had roots extending from the blocks. They were ready to plant. That is about the fastest seed-to-transplant time I have seen.
My objective is to be able to grow Seminole Pumpkin in marginal areas where my primary crops won’t grow. Seminole Pumpkin is a spreading vine that takes up a lot of room. On the other hand, it has some characteristics that make it an ideal plant for gardening when it counts – when you depend on what you can grow to feed your family 1:
- The fruit can be picked and stored without refrigeration for almost a full year.
- It was a mainstay of the Florida Indians and early settlers.
- It will spread over the ground, cover fences, and climb trees.
- Needs to be fertilized only at planting and requires no protection from insects.
- Is excellent baked, steamed, or made into a pie.
- The young fruit is delicious boiled and mashed.
- The male flowers can be dipped in batter and fried as fritters.
- It produces continually and roots at the nodes.
For this test, I planted groups of three plants in three different areas. They will be given a single dose of fertilizer and then water as needed. My goal is to find a place that I could plant Seminole Pumpkin and let it take over a large part of otherwise-unproductive land. Since this is an excellent subsistence crop that requires a large area, the ideal would be for it to grow over what is now bare areas and lawn grass.
This is quite late in the year to start Seminole Pumpkin, but it will suffice for this experiment. If this is successful, I will be planting them in the Spring.
- Florida State Horticultural Society, 1975, page137. ↩