The after work gardener, Tuesday 16 August
6 days since my last post and it's now surpassed the size of my head and feels like it might weigh rather a lot more. I have tried gently lifting it off the branch on which it is precariously balanced to test its size, but realised very quickly that to do such a thing would result in immediate harvesting.
Now, don't get me wrong, this is no 300lb beauty of the like Toby Buckland has been writing about in his piece on the BBC Gardening Blog nor is it the size of beanbag, but I think it might make a risotto, a batch of soup, and maybe even a pie.
My current worry is when to harvest? From reading around it says between 12-16 weeks after sowing - but in my north facing garden, things can take a lot longer to reach fruition due to the severe lack of sun. Other articles say to harvest before the first frost - which I'm hoping can't be for at least another month, but most sources reckon to wait until the skin is a deep colour, the rind is hard and the stem begins to dry and shrivel.
Now, my pumpkin is slightly unusual in that it is ranging over the barren apple tree rather than being supported on the ground, and indeed Toby Buckland suggested engineering a make-shift hammock to prevent the fruit from falling off. However, I've chosen to let nature take its cause (as I can't see where to sling a hammock) and have decided that it might be best to harvest just before the supporting apple tree branch snaps - I'm guessing if it drops of its own accord then I'm too late.
I've also read about the whole 'curing' thing, where you leave the pumpkin in the sun for the skin to harden enabling you to then store it for up to 6 months, but with the aforementioned lack of sun, currently only one fruit to speak of, and a distinct need to vary my diet from the glut of runner beans and cut 'n' cum lettuce I've been eating each day, I'm sure I'll be cooking this beauty pretty much on the day of its picking.
Any pie, soup or risotto recipes greatly received.