THIS IS WHY You Never Pick Up a Pumpkin By Its Stalk

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A Thanksgiving meditation for you, from this writer currently baking pumpkin pies in Georgia…

Before we begin, brace yourself for a shocking revelation. The canned “pumpkin” sold in the stores is a different vegetable than the orange pumpkins sold in the produce department. Growers raise specialty squash grown just for the canning companies.

Once I learned that, I was determined not to support poser pumpkins. I buy real pie pumpkins every year, then roast and puree them for my pumpkin pie. (see below for the EASIEST way to roast a pie pumpkin—or any hard winter squash)

And while I actually dislike pumpkin flavors (don’t get me started on the horror of bananas, either), my hubby Mitch loves pumpkin desserts.
He also loves infomercial exercise equipment. A few years ago, Mitch’s pull-up bar fell from a doorway, striking me in the head. The next day I decided to grow my own pumpkins. (Coincidence? You decide.)

Two months later, on a blistering hot Georgia afternoon, I noticed weeds growing around the pumpkin vine, threatening to strangle my gorgeous new baby pumpkins.
Obviously, the weeds had to go. Those freeloaders were eating up the soil’s nutrition that was meant for the pumpkins. They clearly didn’t belong. I wanted a pumpkin patch, not a mixed-use development.

Eyeing the first weed, I grabbed it and tugged. As the weed emerged from the ground, its roots bumped a baby pumpkin, and the pumpkin fell right off the vine, its stem torn.
The same thing happened with the next weed I removed. Every time I yanked up a weed, I disturbed the stalk attaching the pumpkin to the vine. The disruption severed the connection, effectively killing the pumpkin.

Now, pumpkins are big, sturdy vegetables. But what I didn’t know was that their connection to the vine is delicate, and the stalk is vulnerable. If you attempt to remove the weeds that grow near the vine, you’ll damage the connection between stalk and vine.

A strong, undisturbed connection to the vine was more important than the weeds growing in the garden.

Now, you may know that Jesus once told a parable about roughly the same thing. Not that Jesus ever grew pumpkins or was injured by pull-up bars manufactured in Taiwan, but He spoke about the connection between vine and fruit, warning us not to pull weeds before the harvest was ripe. (See Matthew 13: 24-30 if you’re curious.)

If I had listened to Jesus, my pumpkins would have lived and I would have stacked all of them outside my front door to flaunt my vegetal wealth. However, after pondering my pumpkin disaster, I have settled on a few valuable insights. The garden always has something to teach me.

First, I saw quickly and clearly that attacking weeds at the wrong time kills the harvest. Self-improvement can be the enemy of abundance.

Our connection to the vine brings life and bounty. Protecting the connections is what Thanksgiving is all about. Nurture the connections that feed you. Strong connections yield good harvests.

Weeding has its place in the garden, but it’s not during the growth cycle. Recognizing the season is more important than spotting the weeds.

Thanks to another life lesson learned too late, I had to buy my pumpkins at the store this year. Next year, I will do better. It will be a pumpkin-palooza here.

BTW, Mitch has asked to permanently install a pull-up bar. With no new head traumas, I don’t know where the idea for my next hobby will come from. But I’m thinking about bead work. With sharp needles and terrible vision, what could go wrong?

Remove produce sticker.
Rinse the exterior.
Place whole, uncut squash or pumpkin on a rimmed cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
Place in 350-degree oven. Bake for 10 minutes per pound. Allow to slightly cool.
Slice open the squash (exterior will be soft by now).
Drizzle parchment with olive oil and seasonings, if desired.
Place halves face-down on the sheet.
Bake until soft, about another 45 minutes.
Cool and scoop.

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