June 20 is the official first day of summer, but this weekend marks the unofficial start. It is often a time for picnics, barbeques or get-togethers with friends and family.
Traditionally, Memorial Day was called Decoration Day. It was on May 30, a day set aside to honor fallen soldiers from the American Civil War. The graves of soldiers were usually decorated with flowers. When I was growing up, my grandmothers still called it Decoration Day. But today we know it as Memorial Day, and it has expanded to honor veterans of all wars, and fallen family members as well. It now falls on the last Monday of the month to give us a three-day weekend.
Most people have their gardens in by now, but I’m still working on planting mine. I just built a new raised bed a couple of days ago, a tiny one that I call the pumpkin patch. I planted 3 Queensland Blue pumpkins and 3 Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins. They are also known as Cinderella Pumpkins because the fairy godmother is said to have turned this type of French pumpkin into a marvelous pumpkin coach. They are flattish, vivid red pumpkins, a French heirloom, and are said to have been served at the second Thanksgiving dinner in the Plymouth Rock colony in Massachusetts in 1623. Rouge Vif means vivid red in French.
My granddaughter Megan picked out a real beauty at Trader Joes last year for Halloween, and I saved seeds from it. I planted 6 seeds that I will thin to three plants, hoping to get at least 3 Rouge Vif d’Etampes pumpkins, one for each little granddaughter.
I saved the Queensland Blue pumpkin seeds from one that I ate about 5 years ago. These are Australian heirloom pumpkins that made it to this country in the 1930s. They have the toughest, hardest rinds of any pumpkin that I’ve ever encountered. You almost need power tools to cut them in half. The seeds are awesomely thick and would probably made great pepitas (roasted pumpkin seeds). I might try that if I get any pumpkins from these seeds.
But my goal is one each blue pumpkin for the girls in addition to a red one. This is going to be a challenge, because I have yet to successfully grow a pumpkin in my front yard. I did grow a tiny New England pie pumpkin in the back, so it should be possible. My plan is to let the vines sprawl all over the yard outside the box.
Sorry about the unattractive bags of steer manure and potting soil, but I have one more raised bed to build before I will be done with this section. Then I can weed the Garden of Perpetual Responsibility. Again.
The “Power That Is” in the household says that we have to get ready to go enjoy a Memorial weekend party with friends.