October 28, 2012

Oh My Gourd! The Pumpkin's Weird Cousin

Pumpkins get all the attention this time of year while the less popular member of the Cucurbitaceae family grows in stranger shapes, colors, and sizes. 

Yes, I'm talking about the gourd! Judging from how tough the insides seem and how strong the outsides are, I'm guessing gourds should be left out of the Wigwam. (I've had some experience with super durable pumpkin shells.

While visiting Janoski's Farm this past week, I found some colorful, oddly shaped gourd examples:gourds


A few interesting gourd facts:

       -Gourds have been grown for over 10,000 years, mainly for ornamental purposes

       -Most are inedible with really tough guts

        -Hardened gourd shells can be used to make utensils, artwork, birdhouses and musical instruments

       -There is an American Gourd Society, which accepts new members for only $15 per year

       -Sad to note, but after 15 years, the Gourd Art Festival had its last showing in 2011

People get awfully creative with gourds...

The Gourdguy has an entire blog dedicated to things he creates out of gourds, including this gem:

On Etsy, Art from Lyn's Heart features an intricate birdhouse:
Gourd Art Birdhouses Birds, Hummingbirds & Flowers

Also on Etsy, Faerie Blue Moon has a gourd rattle:
Gourd Rattle Percussion Instrument Red and Black Meander Design

The American Gourd Society has a large photo gallery with flamingogourds

So give some autumn love to the pumpkin's weird cousin this season!

Related Posts & Links:
Pumpkin Shell Discovery

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October 21, 2012

Pumpkin Flavored Whaaaaat?

As Halloween comes creeping up on us, let's take a look at some interesting and unusual products that have been infused with pumpkin this season!

Lip Balm- This one is earth friendly and not tested on animals. If you are interested in other brands that don't test on animals, PETA keeps a pretty comprehensive list at the Cruelty-Free section of their site.

Dog treats- With a name like "Nummy Tum Tum", how could you resist? This can be used on top of your dog's food as encouragement or as a treat by itself.

Coffee- Whether it's pumpkin, pumpkin spice, or pumpkin cinnamon, the selection of coffees and teas with an autumn flavor infusion is amazing!

Pumpkin Butter- I guess you could use this like peanut butter on bread or maybe on a biscuit or roll? The green color kind of threw me off...

Face Mask- Schmearing pumpkin all over my skin sounds refreshing- but pumpkin latte? Not sure.

Shampoo/Shower Gel/Bubble Bath- I'm a little wary of multi-use products, but this could be an exception if I was dying to really SMELL like fall. 

Even some old favorites (not necessarily organic or green!) have introduced pumpkin-infused versions:

So here's to a flavorful fall!

The worms are still finishing off the garden castoffs and eagerly awaiting their own yearly jack-o-lantern treat. To puree or not to puree? Since the pics are so much cooler when they get them whole, that's an easy decision!

Related Posts & Links
Pumpkin Eaters
Useful Jack-O-Lanterns
How Do the Pumpkins Grow?
Pumpkin Shell Discovery


October 14, 2012

Shhhhh...The Garden is Now Sleeping

The first frost came and went, and my garden looked all used up. Time to put it to bed!

dead organic gardenNotice that orange thing in the corner? Yep, that was my mystery plant-turned-pumpkin! At first, I thought it was a watermelon, but after a few weeks, it started turning orange.
organic pumpkin
Back to the bedtime story!

After reading and asking, I came to the conclusion I would put the garden to sleep pretty much how I do everything else: MY WAY.

My plan was to harvest the funky veggie remains for the worms and chop up the plants to compost right there on the spot.  I got some husbandly help, and here's how it went down:
organic garden composting
First, we picked off all the veggies and he used hedge clippers to chop up all the remaining plants.  Then, he used the shovel to get really serious on the harder stems.
organic garden composting
He also used the shovel to dig down 4-6 inches, turning over the dirt and mixing in the clip chopped garden remains.  

I left the berry plants in the lower half to die out, and he used the same clip/chop/turn method on the pepper plants. Then I doused it with the water left in my rain barrel.

Organic garden season #1 wrapped up for Lilliworm!
organic garden composting
So what became of the funky leftover veggie scraps?

worm wigwam feedingAnd how did the worms feel about all of this?
worm wigwam
We'll see how my sleeping garden method plays out this winter and spring- and of course, during organic growing season #2.

Related Posts & Links:
Stubborn Peppers and Mystery Plants
Lessons from a First Year Organic Gardener
Planting and Fencing and Raining...Oh My!

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