Seminole Pumpkin - A Garden Favorite!

Seed catalogs are arriving now, so it's a good time to share one of my garden favorites with you, Seminole Pumpkin. I was enticed by the Baker Creek seed catalog description "The wild squash of the Everglades… sweet flesh … productive vines … resistant to insects and disease." Squash bugs are often attracted to my organic garden, and I'd lost hopes of growing my favorite butternut squash ever again. (Note: winter squash and pumpkins are in the same vegetable family). But Seminole Pumpkin gave me new hope, and I figured a plant native to the Everglades should find happiness in my hot, humid Tennessee garden. So I ordered a package of seeds in late 2012.

Big squash plants need lots of space for their vines to spread, so I ended up only growing one Seminole Pumpkin plant in the 2013 summer garden (two are recommended, for optimal pollination). But it proved true to its description, growing strong with no damage by insects, and giving me a good harvest of about 5 big fruit, shaped much like bird house gourds. It was a lovely plant too, with large distinctive variegated leaves and huge yellow flowers (edible by the way). I enjoyed the taste just as well as butternut squash, so more good points for the pumpkin.

This past season I left the vegetable garden unplanted, as I renourished the depleted soil. Low and behold, in early summer a couple of healthy plants began to grow out of my compost bin, and I recognized the leaf as that of the Seminole Pumpkin. Evidently, some of the seeds discarded in the compost bin when I cooked the vegetable the previous fall had survived. Never one to throw away a good healthy plant (which explains why I have too many flower gardens!), I carefully dug three seedlings and planted them in the big pile of rich composted mulch from a nearby mushroom factory, which had been left from tilling some into the garden a few months previous. Wow, did they grow! A few times I gently re-directed the vines, as they spread across one of our walking trails.

By early September, ten big squashes had matured from green to tan and the skins were thick, indicating ripeness. Amazingly, I still had one Seminole Pumpkin left from the previous year, stored in our basement which maintains a year-round temperature of about 60°F... so it stores very well. I picked the ripe ten squashes and  continued to harvest individual pumpkins for several weeks. When a heavy frost threatened in mid October, I read that I should pick any remaining squashes and let them ripen indoors; these would not be as good for longterm storage as those which had ripened on the vines. So I picked about 10 more which still had some green skin. Not wanting to line them up in the living room, where the room temperature would be closer to the recommended 80 degrees for ripening, I placed these on my open shelves in front of the south-facing basement window. It took many weeks, but eventually these fruit did ripen, and tasted just as good as the others.

I also recommend Seminole Pumpkin because it is very nutritious, easy to cut, and the seeds roast up as a delicious snack. My raw harvested squashes cut very well with my best bread knife. You can roast, boil, microwave, and cook squashes in a variety of ways; I find it quick and easy to cook large batches in my pressure cooker, unpeeled. Once cooked and cooled, the pulp easily scoops out of the shell. To use fresh pumpkin in baking (especially in recipes calling for canned pumpkin), it is best to drain off the excess liquid from the pulp. After I mash the pumpkin in the food processor to make a smooth consistency, I either
  • drain the puree in a colander lined with coffee filters and discard the liquid 
  • put the puree in a container and refrigerate overnight, then pour off the liquid which separates from the pulp
This pumpkin freezes well; I measured about 3 cups of puree from each harvested squash, and stored it in zip bags which stack flat in the freezer.

If you want to grow Seminole Pumpkin, just ask me for some seeds and I'll save some I don't eat!

Also, check out these recipes which use fresh pumpkin:
Pumpkin Chai Snickerdoodles
Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
and watch for my future posts (like the yummy pumpkin cake shown here) using this nutrituous delicious vegetable!