Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mini Pumpkin Teepees

by Lindsay Del Carlo, Renee's Garden Trial Garden Manager

Everyone loves miniature “baby” pumpkins because they are extremely productive, easy to grow, fast to mature and lots of fun to have around for all the fall and winter holidays. This summer, we used a space saving method and made bamboo teepees for these vigorous vines to twine up. We found that growing miniature pumpkins up vertically in this fashion created a handsome and decorative focal point in the garden beds. In no time at all, the bamboo tripods were covered with an abundance of 4 to 5 inch little ribbed orange pumpkins that we will use for decorations with plenty to bake as tasty edible bowls for pumpkin pudding or savory soups or other fillings. Here’s how to make your pumpkin tepees with our “Mini Jack” baby pumpkin variety.
First sow groups of two-three seeds of Mini Jack Pumpkins in a triangle with 2 feet between each group. After the seeds have emerged and have several sets of leaves, thin to one strong seedling in each group so you have a triangle, as you see in the picture.

Second, put 2 bamboo poles per plant, one on each side of the seedling. Here we are using bamboo that is 8 ft. long and about an inch in diameter.

Place the poles so that they are standing perfectly upright. This makes it much easier to gather the poles at the top to tie.
Once the poles are all in place, gather them at the top and tie together with some garden twine.

Mini Jack plants will grow and twine up vigorously. Once they start to vine, tie each branch to the bamboo pole to train them upwards. Make sure to check them a few times a week, and continue to tie the branches to the poles. The plants do have tendrils that will cling to the poles and other branches, but by anchoring them with ties you will ensure sustainability on the pole as they will become heavy with many miniature pumpkins.
The little pumpkins will be creamy colored at first like those in this picture, but as they mature, they will turn bright orange. Harvest them by cutting them by the stem handle. Once cut, cure them for a week or 10 days in a sunny, dry spot and then store in a cool dry place. They’ll last for months.

Mini Jacks mature earlier than regular sized pumpkins, rewarding you with armfuls of deeply ribbed fruit that make welcome gifts, colorful edible decorations.


Marie said...

I'd love to grow these but are they tasty? I always hear that people use them for decorations and I imagine that they are edible of course... but do they taste good?
In any case, the teepees are a great idea!

Renee Shepherd said...

Yes they are good to eat -- they make ideal individual servings, and we especially like using them as edible soup bowls. Teepee are a great space saver and work well for all vining veggies and flowers.

Marie said...

Thank you! I've been thinking about these since I saw your post... I'll definitly try it next year.

gail hengen said...

this is the concept i want to do with beans and such next year. i saved some limbs from our large split leaf maple to use them instead of throwing them away :)
how tall are your bamboo stakes for the mini pumpkins? i saw your in Washington state. I'm just upriver from Lewiston Idaho near the ID/WA border :)

Sue the webmaster said...

Hi Gail. Setting up teepees is a great space saver and works well with any climbers. Poles can be anywhere from 5 ft or more, depending on what you will be growing. Sweet peas, for example, will get taller, so need longer poles. I garden here in Seattle, but Renee and Lindsay and the rest of the "crew" are in Santa Cruz, CA. Good luck and check out the article on Vertical Gardening in the articles section of our website

sue said...

It's best to avoid BAMBOO poles in the veggie garden, where they are simply earwig condo's, cosseting those seedling-munching pests close to their food supply, your garden plants. Use saplings, or branches from any fairly straight-limbed tree instead, or the fiberglass poles available at the garden center.

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