But let's go back in time a couple of months and look at the growing of this wonder fruit. And yes it also falls into the question of “Is it a fruit or a vegetable” with the lovely tomato. Many fruits are considered vegetables even though botanically they can be classed with fruits. Since ‘vegetable’ is not a botanical term, there is no contradiction in referring to part of a plant as a fruit while also being considered a vegetable. And the definition of fruit is anything that contains the seeds to perpetuate its species in the edible part. As compared to radishes and lettuce etc that do not.
The pumpkin-grower couldn't decide and spent a very long time choosing. He finally chose a 4-inch pot with one plant in it and then requested I get a packet of seeds for him to plant. As we were a little late getting them started - pumpkins take from 90 to 120 days to mature - I was afraid he wouldn't see much from the seed plants but agreed. We took them home to the prepared beds and planted them and adjusted the drip system for watering.
More research into pumpkins has taken place since this experience and I have discovered some new tricks to try next year. In the book Carrots Love Tomatoes by Louise Riotte I learned that nasturtiums planted near the pumpkins will help deter the striped pumpkin beetles. This sounds great and will add some beautiful color to the garden as well. I also learned not to plant the pumpkins near potatoes because this has a tendency to lower the potatoes' resistance to blight (Phytophthora infestans). And planting the pumpkins around the corn can help keep raccoons out of the corn. Evidently the raccoon loves to stand up and eat and he can't see over the large pumpkin leaves. Also he is not too keen on climbing through all the vines. So some new tricks to try next year.
But this wonderful cucurbit has many other uses than just Halloween carving. The seeds of all pumpkins are edible and there are 2 varieties that have been developed with no hard shell. This makes them even easier to eat. They can be eaten raw but most people prefer them toasted with a little salt.
Different varieties grow to different sizes. 'Atlantic Giant' is preferred by many who are trying to grow the largest pumpkin for contests around the country. But most any variety can be grown to an extra large size by simply pruning the plant to 2 main vines and then removing the blossoms from these except one or two at the far end of the vine. Then heap soil every 2 feet or so up the vine and new roots will form that will help feed this giant pumpkin.
Another variety is the 'Jack Be Little' that only grows to 2 or 3 inches in diameter. These are very popular for decorating throughout the Halloween and Thanksgiving seasons. 'Small Sugar' is a variety that is extra sweet flesh for eating. This kind and many other similar varieties work wonderful for canning your own pumpkin to use throughout the year in pies and breads. Anyone familiar with the Victorio Strainer, used a lot to make tomato and other juices, will be tickled to find out that there are also attachments for it to make canning pumpkin easier.
Another way to use a pumpkin is to serve a hot soup in it at a dinner party. The guests will love it and if the soup is cooked part of the time in the pumpkin, the pumpkin itself can become part of the soup.
A few years ago while taking a flower decorating class we put floral foam in the pumpkin and then made a flower arrangement in it. The results were striking and make a fun addition to the Fall season decorations.
So whether you are planning on celebrating this holiday as a time to scare and be spooky or a time to honor deceased loved ones or anything in-between, Happy Pumpkin Day to you all!!
Guest blog bio – Virginia "Ginny" Taylor is the mother of 6 and grandmother of 10-½ . Her dad taught her how to weed when she was around age 10 and the secret of raking rocks around age 12 - she has been an avid gardener ever since.
"When in need of some calming peace there is nothing that can compare to running your hands through the soil, pulling a weed and/or watching things grow."
She has also gone through the Master Gardener program in her area and enjoys sharing her gardening experiences with others.
Thanks to Ginny for a great article - hopefully we will be hearing from her again soon.
Get your hands dirty!