Chickens

How To Hollow Out a Pumpkin The Easy Way

pumpkin collageEach year I grow a couple of extra pumpkins to carve for Halloween. Instead of scooping out the insides myself, I give the chore to my chickens. But I guess it’s not really a chore to them, considering how eager they are to help.

chickens eating a pumpkinEach pumpkin is hollowed out in record timing, flesh and seeds vanish (I’m careful to remove the pumpkins soon after, otherwise they’ll eat the whole thing before I get the chance to carve crazy scary faces). This saves me a bit of time and the hens get a healthy afternoon treat containing a natural wormer.

pumpkin hollowingUncooked pumpkin seeds contain Cucurbitin, an amino acid that can eliminate parasitic worms such as tapeworm and roundworm.

chicken eating a pumpkinEven more reason to get your flock involved with pumpkin carving!

Happy Halloween, Blessed Samhain x

Allotment

October Allotment Photos

allotment

I spent a lovely afternoon at the allotment yesterday. A dull and chilly day but I didn’t feel the chill working on the plot. It was a day of weeding, harvesting (carrots, potatoes and a few pumpkins) and generally mooching around in the shed, tidying up and sipping hot tea.

allotment, allotment shed, pretty allotment

allotment flowers, blue allotment shed

We’re almost half way into October and the plot still offers plenty of Cosmos for wildlife and picking, the flowers just keep going and going until a hard frost arrives.

allotment, raised beds

I have a couple of rows of potatoes still to lift and I’ll get that done before the ground freezes.

harvest potatoes

I’m very pleased with my carrots, they’re a lovely size with straight roots and the best I’ve ever grown. Putting rabbit fencing around the plot certainly helped matters. As much as I enjoy the comedy value of pulling misshapen carrots (you do get some strange and wonderful shapes), I was determined to grow some decent carrots this year. And I did, yay!

sunflower seedhead

Sunflowers hang their heads, ripe with seeds, I’ll cut the heads soon and lay them flat for birds to help themselves.

pumpkin october 14 0945 BLOG

This lovely pumpkin will be used for carving at the end of the month for Halloween! I finished painting the inside of the shed door before I left for home, I’m so pleased with the colour, it looks stunning against the colour of the Cosmos and pumpkins don’t you think? I’ve decided to paint the inside of my shed ‘Country Cream'(Cuprinol) and add a few finishing touches, some of which I sourced from artisans including lovely bunting which I just can’t wait to put up. I just need the paint and away I go!

Allotment

September Allotment Photos

allotment collage I’m coming out of my blogging hibernation, it’s been a while since I’ve visited the plot let alone post about it. And I’m feeling guilty. I trundled off to the allotment at the weekend to tackle a really difficult bed (we all have one area that’s the bane of our lives don’t we?). Brambles, bindweed, creeping buttercup and couch grass greeted me. Gah! My heart sank, but I got on with the job of clearing it of top growth and roots, digging over and topping with manure. It really helped to lift my spirits but I soon felt achy so decided to make the move home before my back give way completely. allotment flowers But before I left I took photos of the prettiest part of the plot, all the summer flowers are still in full swing including a lovely sunflower alongside tired ones. I did really well with the sunflowers this year, using seed a friend sent to me. butternut squash There’s plenty of butternut squash to harvest and little pumpkins, lovely big marrows (I grow them for the chickens mainly) and here’s my second year attempt at a giant pumpkin…. allotment pumpkin …..didn’t quite work but it’s the best size I’ve grown yet so I’m happy with that.

Allotment

Fairytale Pumpkins

allotment

I love growing pumpkins for many reasons but harvest time has to be the best – certain pumpkins remind me of Cinderella carriages and I’m almost sad at having to chop the stalk and take them home. The snake-like plants are fantastic ground cover to keep weeding down throughout summer and the flowers are edible as well as pretty. This year I grew three varieties, ‘Jack O’ Lantern’ and ‘Baby Bear’ both from Mr Fothergills seeds and Atlantic Giant from T&M (just the one plant though, they are thugs!).

pumpkins

Overall a pleasing yield from just a few plants, I have a couple suitable for carving and the hens will never turn their beaks up at the chance to devour a pumpkin or two. I read elsewhere that feeding pumpkins to chickens is a good way to naturally worm your flock, apparently the coating on fresh pumpkin seeds paralyse internal worms. I don’t know if there’s any truth to this claim, have you ever heard of this? All I know is our hens  get stuck into a pumpkin without any encouragement, stripping the fleshy insides and gobbling down the seeds.

The Atlantic Giant pumpkin I grew, sadly it began to rot before reaching epic proportions. Still, there's always next year!
The Atlantic Giant pumpkin I grew, sadly it began to rot before reaching epic proportions. It was well on its way to being a Cinderella carriage. Still, there’s always next year!

Sadly the Atlantic Giant pumpkin (I thinned down to just one fruit, aiming for size rather quantity) was a bit of a disappointment, it grew to a decent size but nowhere near the giant I envisaged, then it began to rot even though I took precautions against this by raising the pumpkin onto a pallet. Not a world record breaker but I did much better than last year and I won the fun competition I took part in with my neighbour who’s yet to see a fruit!

allotment pumpkins
Certain pumpkin shapes and skins remind me of Cinderella’s carriage, like this one right at the front. Variety ‘Jack O’ Lantern’.

Did you grow pumpkins this year, did you manage to grow a giant? Any bloggers out there up for a fun competition to see who can grow the biggest next year?

kitchen garden

Poor Pumpkin

I decided a little late in the year to try growing Pumpkins, something I have wanted to try for a while but concerned as usual that there would not be enough space. After a lot of mumbling and frowning I did a last-minute sowing of Racer that produced 2 strong plants, I then planted these in an unused patch of weedy ground, and pretty much ignored them. To my horror one of the plants gave up and died, the other kept growing away happily and produced a fruit. Just as I was starting to feel very smug about my baby Pumpkin, I suddenly remembered that we were having a new fence put up. You guessed it, the new fence would be built right where my poor Pumpkin was! I had no choice but to harvest it while green and then place it in the sun to cure and ripen. A few weeks later it doesn’t look too bad and is almost completely orange now, not a bad size either considering. Oh well, I will probably let my children have this one for carving (hopefully it won’t rot in the meantime) and start again next year.

What are your favourite variety of pumpkin to grow?