Halloween Pumpkin


At this time of the month October there are plenty of pumpkin to choose from the patch or grocery store.    Pumpkin is a member of the Cucurbita family, large trailing vine with heart-shaped leaves.  they are in reality a winter squash.

Pumpkin are high in vitamin A, B, and C, iron, phosphorous and potassium.

About 99  percent of the pumpkins sold in the grocery store are used as jack-o-lanterns.  these large, deep orange color pumpkins is a variety called Connecticut Field are stringy to eat and high water content.  they are not good for eating, suitable for carving only.

Smaller pumpkin called “pie” or sweet  flesh that is less watery making these the best for eating.  I grow this variety in my garden excellent for pies, quick breads, cakes and muffins.

My favorite sweet pumpkins for eating are winter luxury and New England Pie.  winter luxury will grow 5 to 7 pounds, it has a unique netted skin, dense and sweet tasting.  New England pie  will grow 4 to 7 pounds, dry, stringless and relatively starchy.

The best temperature to store pumpkin is 50F to 55F, with relatively low humidity.  Storing in high humidity will rot the pumpkins.  Store away from light in area with  good ventilation.

To keep your home-grown pumpkins or store-bought, cut them into slice pieces or large chunks nd microwaved, boiled, baked in oven or steamed.  Puree cooked pumpkin meat, freezes well and can be kept frozen up to a year.







Roasted pumpkin seeds, also known as “pepitas” are wonderful nutritious snack !

Cut the pumpkin, scrape the seeds and put them in colander to rinse.   Remove any pulp strings. (this can be tedious) and dry thoroughly. Put seeds in a large bowl, add a few drops of olive oil (I like extra virgin).  Spread on cookie sheet line with parchment paper.  Roast in the oven at 375F until seeds are golden brown color.  Keep and eye on them and move them around occasionally to ensure even roasting.  Cool completely  and store in air tight container.   If this sound too much to make buy in health food store or in grocery store with bulk section.


The most prominent Halloween symbol is of course the carved pumpkin with lit candle inside.  This is an Iris tradition of carving a lantern, which goes back centuries.  this lantern usually carved from a potatoes or turnips.  The pumpkin carving was first associated with Halloween in North America, where pumpkin was more readily available much larger and easier to carve.








Garden Peas

Home grown peas always taste better than store-bought.  Growing your own is easy and you do not need a large garden to grow this nutritious vegetable.

Pisum Saticum the botanical name for garden peas.  Loaded with vitamin A, B, C, Riboflavin, Protein, Carbohydrate, calcium, Iron, Phosphorous and Potassium.  Adding peas to your diet also has health benefit.  They are excellent nourishment and strength restoring.  Peas contain nicotinic acid reportedly recommended for reducing cholesterol in the blood.  Steam diced carrot and peas , mix with meat, or sprinkle on salad.  Anyway you use peas they are healthy nutritious.

Garden peas was discovered at all place in Burma (Myanmar) and Thailand by an archeological expedition at approximately 9750 B.C.  This is a much earlier finding than the peas found bronze age (approximately 3000B.C.) lake dwellings in Switzerland and Savoy.  The Greeks also cultivate peas and they were brought to Britain by the Romans.  Peas were the first vegetable to canned and later deep frozen.

Peas are cold weather crop, so plant them early.  I started mine in the greenhouse in flats in early February, then transplanted outdoors in early spring depending weather condition.  Green Arrow variety is my first choice shelling peas, they are prolific producer, long pod up to 10 peas per pod, excellent pea taste.  Pick them early when they are still tender.

Many diseases affect peas.  the most common is pea root rot (Fusarium or aphanomyces euteiches) which causes browning and dying of the foliage from the ground up.  Another pea disease to watch is the powdery mildew, those white powdery mold on the leaves, stems and pods in hot weather.  Choose resistant variety.


When done with harvesting, pull the stalks and spread them on the ground in a sunny area of the property to dry.  when they all look brown and brittle I use my gas driven mower and mow the stalks into shredded particles.  Dried pea stalks have nitrogen  content that is beneficial for compost and the garden.

Peas are good for freezing too.  shell the peas, spread on a cookie sheet then put in the freezer for several hours or until peas are frozen.  Fill one gallon plastic bag with the frozen peas, depending how often you use, it will last until next planting or longer.



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The Prince’s tomato festival

Louis Albert de Broglie  and his tomato garden
Louis Albert de Broglie and his tomato garden

More than 600 varieties of tomatoes are grown in the vegetable garden of the renaissance style Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire Valley, by Prince Louis Albert de Broglie, whose passion for gardening has earned him to be nicknamed as the gardener Prince. Born into nobility with a lineage of reputed statesmen and academics which include Louis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond, 7th duc de Broglie who won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1929, Louis Albert began his fabulous journey into the world of gardening in the early 1990’s. Owner of this remarkable property, who is also known to have saved Deyrolle, Paris historic and prestigious science institution from financial bankruptcy, he has recreated 70 of the old educational boards which can be seen along the walks in the park. Micro-farming using permaculture as means for a sustainable agriculture is another of his on going project. Inspired from Ferme du Bec Hellouin in Normandy, the experimental small scale farm lies just behind the gardens of the castle where some of its products are sold at the property. It is all about tomatoes and La Bourdaisière collection of ancient and rare varieties is now recognized by the National Conservatory (CCVS) as one of the most prestigious collection of tomatoes in France. Walking through the conservatory is a true delight. The vegetable garden is laid out in an asymmetric manner with an artfully bound wooden rustic sticks placed on beds along grassy path interweaving with companion plants alongside dark red leafy tall upright amaranth plants and an amalgamation of aromatic herbs, flowers as well as medicinal plants. Brought together to form a perfect symbiosis with the natural environment, these randomly planted herbs and flowers between tomato plants are not only a pleasant sight, but they also act as source of attracting bees and a natural repellent against insects and other undesirable elements that may harm the tomato plants. Delectable tomatoes enhanced with superb colours come in all shapes, oval, elongated, red, green, yellow, violet, with inventive names such as Banana legs, Delice d’or, Big rainbow, Kaki coing, Rouge d’Irak, Gardener’s delight, Principe Borghese, Green Zebra, Grinta amongst others … They all come into bloom with the annual festive weekend that takes place in September. My visit to the festival is certainly one of the most enjoyable especially when you get to discuss with the gardener Prince himself who speaks with great enthusiasm on gardening and his projects.

The tomato garden at the Château de la Bourdaisière
The tomato garden at the Château de la Bourdaisière

Head for the marvelous tomato bar located within the conservatory and relax in the garden while trying out their fresh vegetables juices.

Tomato bar ibn the conservatory of tomatoes at Château de la Bourdaisière with an array of mouthwatering delicacies
Tomato bar in the conservatory of tomatoes at Château de la Bourdaisière with an array of mouthwatering delicacies

For sure tomatoes are daily picked from the vegetable garden, and here it is juicy yummy tomatoes being “harvested” for the day …

Picking tomatoes from the vegetable patch
Picking tomatoes from the vegetable patch

By noon time to unwind at the invitation of the Prince for a wonderful lunch in the midst of his vegetable garden. A real treat with a meal served on an attractively decorated table and a selection of tomato dishes … of course !

Garden dining with tomatoes specialties including tomato bread, ratatouille, fresh tomato salad ...
Garden dining with tomatoes specialties including tomato bread, ratatouille, fresh tomato salad …

And their delicious organic tomato jam … a must try !


The day is not over yet and I am still enjoying the garden view while sipping more fresh juices in the midst of an idyllic dahlia garden. The idea of a dahlia garden came from Martine de Roquefeuil, a dahlia expert and the property director. Created in 2009, the contemporary garden was redesigned by Louis Benech the renown landscape architect. Today it boasts for its collection of over 5000 bulbs with more than 200 varieties in shapes and colours. One dahlia variety named La Bourdaisière was specially created for the garden by Ernest Turc, a reputed plant nursery from Angers. Walk up the small “tumulus” mound to get a picturesque overall view of the gardens and the vineyards.

The Dahliacolor contemporary garden with La Bourdaisière variety (top left)
The Dahliacolor contemporary garden with La Bourdaisière variety (top left)

Château de la Bourdaisière in the Loire Valley home to the annual tomato festival.

Château de la Bourdaisière
Château de la Bourdaisière

Château de la Bourdaisière
25 rue de La Bourdaisière
37270 Montlouis sur Loire
Telephone +33(0)2 47 45 16 31