Denny Schrock

hijinks in a field of dreams

Written on October 6, 2011 at 10:54 am , by

Pumpkins, spider webs, ghosts, witches, and zombies are making their annual appearance up and down the streets of the neighborhood as Halloween decorations pop up everywhere. My front porch sports Hijinks with Baby Pam in a Field of Dreams.

That’s Hijinks pumpkin, an All-America Selections Winner in the center of the photo above. Hijinks is a small (7 to 9 pounds) pumpkin that develops brilliant orange color just 100 days from planting. The plant has good resistance to powdery mildew, but I found that squash bugs love it just as much as any other pumpkin or squash variety. It’s flanked by Baby Pam pumpkin, which matures even sooner. Its 4- to 5-pound fruits are reportedly excellent for cooking and baking, too. (Pumpkin pie, anyone?) Both varieties are an excellent size for little kids to handle.

Field of Dreams ornamental corn rounds out the display. This new variety is extremely decorative. Through the growing season, it brightens the garden with striped foliage (see below). The mature ears of corn are solidly one color but vary from shades of mahogany and maroon to deep yellow orange. The ears filled well in my garden, even though my granddaughter and I planted only two rows about 8 feet long. As you can see, the tiny plot yielded ears with mostly dark kernels. As a bonus, Field of Dreams can be used as popcorn, too! The initial test of its popping quality earlier this week at our household was pronounced, “Delicious!”

We’ll be sharing the pumpkins and popcorn with our grandchildren. After all, Halloween is for kids of all ages, isn’t it?

Field of Dreams ornamental popcorn in the garden

Denny Schrock

Fall’s bountiful harvest

Written on November 19, 2010 at 10:04 am , by

DSCF3100 Although we’ve had a few frosty nights here in Des Moines, IA, my veggie garden continues to produce prolifically. I took this shot of some of the home-grown bounty on my dining room table last evening. The center bowl contains a mix of baby lettuces and mesclun (Both were protected from frost in the garden by floating row covers.) and a couple mini cabbage heads–secondary heads that developed after the main crop head was harvested earlier this summer. I use them like large Brussels sprouts or as I would regular cabbage.

Surrounding the bowl (from the center foreground) are purple ‘Graffiti Hybrid’ cauliflower, ‘Golden’ beet, heirloom red tomatoes, Swiss chard, ‘Small Sugar’ and ‘Long Island Cheese’ pumpkins, collard greens, ‘Red Cored Chantenay’ carrots, ‘Soldier’ beet, and ‘Furry Yellow Hog’ tomato, another heirloom variety.

Shortly after I took this photo, I enjoyed a tasty dinner that included a lettuce-mesclun salad with chopped tomatoes and carrots. Some of the other veggies will make it to the Thanksgiving table–either in the form of a side dish or as part of the centerpiece. They’re so colorful that they’re a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach. For more ideas on beautiful vegetable varieties to grow, see our slide show on growing colorful vegetables.