This spring Assistant Curator for the Garden, Carol Long, and I decided to experiment with growing several varieties of gourds and pumpkins. We were not interested in growing giant, meteor-sized pumpkins or a truckload of Jack O’Lanterns. We were more interested in trialing heirloom and distinctive looking varieties as potential ornaments for Enchanted Woods and the garden. Last week the weather was kind enough to give us a window for our first real harvest day and you can see some of the results of our experiment below.
Enlisting the help of my son Parker, the 3 of us pushed aside the rough leaves of the pumpkins and gourds in a sort of reverse Easter egg hunt – looking for the sometimes small and camouflaged gourds. We carefully loaded our harvest into the back of a couple of utility vehicles and took them to the Head House for cleaning. Using wash, bleach, and rinse baths, we cleaned all of the gourds and pumpkins and set them out to dry. One of our staff members, Marlin Dise, reminded me that the moisture content for our harvest is probably very high and has probably resulted in greater losses. Sure enough, some of the damaged gourds and pumpkins began to rot within hours. Nevertheless there are still a couple hundred intact and drying nicely, waiting for their autumn debut.