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Thursday, September 16, 2010

First Signs Of Autumn: Pumpkins, Hops, and Rain

This week we've been working on getting in the posts for the apple espalier wires.  We were to finish yesterday afternoon, but the weather had something to say about that, so we'll try filling the last hole this afternoon.

My pumpkins were also ready, and since we were expecting rain, which showed up several hours early, I harvested them a the day before yesterday and then yesterday brought them in to prep and cure.  Prepping them for curing involved washing them all in a ten percent bleach solution to make sure anything that might make them rot is dead.  Curing them involves keeping them at eighty degrees F in eighty percent humidity for a week and a half before storing them at sixty degrees F. 



I have them in a clean bath tub in the hall bathroom with the little heater on, but haven't figured out the humidity part.  So- I'll probably leave them the rest of today, put them in the garage at first, and then as the weather gets colder, they'll probably wind up on the north wall of my bedroom which is the colder room in the house in the winter.   After all that, I'll just hope for the best.  I decided not to process them all at once because I'm getting picky about what goes into the freezer which doesn't have a lot of room in it anymore, and because I want to try the dry storage thing- you know, like root cellaring.  I don't have a basement or a decent hill in which to build a cellar, so I'm starting slowly in that department.  We'll just have to see and I'll keep you posted on that.  Pumpkins are supposed to keep for three months if all is right in their world, so that should take me to mid-December.


Also this week, we harvested the first of the hops and dried them.  They smell awesome and I'm already thinking about where in the backyard to move them so that we can really let them grow and get big and covered in cones.  They just smell wonderful.  I'm not sure if you have to be a beer drinker to appreciate them, but I have to admit that smelling them makes me hanker for a pilsner.

6 comments:

Jennifer Montero said...

Paula - You teach me something new every time I read your blog. I didn't know you could cure pumpkin. Is it purely to help them keep, like root cellaring or clamping?

And I know what you mean about rationing freezer space (I still have a few pots of last year's pumpkin in mine, so I won't be adding any more)

Hop vines with their little pods are used for decoration in English country cottages, laid on top of kitchen cabinets. They look and smell great.

Toni aka irishlas said...

Keep us posted on how storage works. I'm in the same boat - no basement or place for a root cellar.

I've never grown hops, but, I sure do know how to drink beer!

Tamar@StarvingofftheLand said...

Paula, Paula, those pumpkins are BEEEEEautiful! I'm very impressed. I also love the idea that you're living in a place with pumpkins in the bathtub and hops in the oven.

Paula said...

Jennifer- yes it is to help keep them. Winter squashes are different from other things you root cellar- they actually need it to be somewhat warmer than a root cellar, so if you have a colder room in the house, that's better. Same for sweet potatoes- if you keep them too cold, they rot instead. I don't want to pass myself off as an expert- I'm just passing along information as I learn it, and a lot of what I'm doing is for the first time. But funny you should mention clamping- I want to grow potatoes next year and I'm thinking clamping them might be the only way to keep them...I might try a couple of different methods, but I'll post all that of course!

Toni- Steve has a friend who decided that if he brewed his own beer it would probably become a problem, so he grows hops just because he thinks they're pretty and they smell nice. He's actually the person who got Steve started by sending him a couple pieces of root this spring. They really do look pretty, and they should be very pretty in the yard. You could always start by calling them a landscaping plant!

Tamar- Thank you! I guess it's a good thing I'm not actually using that tub right now, huh? And as long as Steve keeps me in home brew, I shouldn't need it for gin.....

Chris said...

Paula...do you guys use your hops in your home brew or are these just for decorative purposes...or both? Can you grow them from seed or small starts? What else can you do with them? Maybe a hops popourri? sp~sorry!

Paula said...

Hi Chris- no, the aim is to use them in home brew. Steve figured out with the first batch that he has barely enough for aroma purposes- he might use them in the Kolsch-style beer he'll be brewing this weekend.

Dunno about seed; most folks plants hops from rhizomes, which are short little pieces of root with growing tips on them. We lost one of the rhizomes that Steve's friend sent, so we replaced it with a Mt. Hood variety that was already a plant.

I don't think they'd be good in potpourri, but hops are supposed to be good for inducing sleep, and folks used to sow them into pillows for that purpose. I would love to fall asleep to the smell of hops, but I'm afraid the pollen would be a huge issue for me!