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Pumpkins!

Updated on October 29, 2014

Welcome to my Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkins are very popular during the fall season, especially for Halloween and Thanksgiving. They have so many uses. You can plant, grow, and cook pumpkins. They can also be used for decorations, or to create beautiful, albeit temporary, works of art. Pumpkins are even chunked in competitions.

My two favorite reasons to love pumpkins? Jack o lanterns and pumpkin pie! What do you love about pumpkins?

Pumpkins

A pumpkin is a squash fruit that grows as a gourd from a trailing vine of certain species in the genus Cucurbita. Although native to the Western hemisphere, pumpkins are cultivated in North America, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and some other countries. Cucurbita species referred to as pumpkins include Curcurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita mixta, and Cucurbita moschata.

The pumpkin varies greatly in form, being sometimes nearly globular, but more generally oblong or ovoid in shape. The rind is smooth and varies in color between cultivars. Although orange is the most common color, some fruits are dark green, pale green, orange-yellow, white, red and gray. Large specimens acquire a weight of 40 to 80 lb (18 to 36 kg), but smaller fruits are more frequently encountered.

Although the pumpkin is botanically classified as a fruit (the ripened ovary of a flowering plant), it is widely regarded culinary as a vegetable. Their insides are commonly eaten cooked and served in dishes such as pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, and pumpkin soup; the seeds can be roasted as a snack. Pumpkins are traditionally used to carve Jack-o'-lanterns for use in Halloween celebrations.

Source: Wikipedia Article

Growing Pumpkins

Pumpkins can take three to four months to grow to maturity, so check a planting chart for your local area to find the appropriate time to put in the seeds in your growing zone.

Of course there is much preparation that needs to go into your garden area before planting, so on a nice day, go check out the area. Take Ph soil samples and think about the layout of your rows.

Pumpkin vines need lots of room! A single pumpkin plant will spread 4' - 6'. Consider shade and watering sources. Start a compost pile. And dream about your beautiful pumpkins to come!

Pumpkin Cultivation

Pumpkin cultivation is a form of gardening that is based on growing pumpkins or other similar squash varieties. And while pumpkins are now grown mostly for autumn and winter decorations rather than for its food value, pumpkin farming is still a major business in North America and around the World. It is believed that people have been cultivating pumpkins since 7000 B.C.

Source: Wikipedia Article

The Perfect Pumpkin: Growing/Cooking/Carving
The Perfect Pumpkin: Growing/Cooking/Carving

The Perfect pumpkin is really the perfect sampler of all types of pumpkin information, such as the history of pumpkins, how to grow them, how to carve them, how to cook with them (an entire recipe section!) and even crafty things such as how to make your very own pumpkin hand soap.

 

More on Pumpkin Cultivation

Pumpkins have historically been pollinated by the native squash bee Peponapis pruinosa, but this bee has declined, probably due to pesticide sensitivity, and today most commercial plantings are pollinated by honeybees. One hive per acre (4,000 m² per hive) is recommended by the United States of America (US) Department of Agriculture. Gardeners with a shortage of bees, however, often have to hand pollinate. Inadequately pollinated pumpkins usually start growing but abort before full development. An opportunistic fungus is also sometimes blamed for abortions.

Pumpkins have male and female flowers, the latter distinguished by the small ovary at the base of the petals. The bright, colorful flowers are short-lived and may open for as little as one day.

Although in the rest of the world pumpkins are grown for eating, in the US they are grown more for decoration than for food (particularly around Halloween). Popular contests continually lead growers to vie for the world record for the largest pumpkin ever grown. Growers have many techniques, often secretive, including hand pollination, removal from the vines of all but one pumpkin, and injection of fertilizer.

Source: Wikipedia Article

Jack o lanterns

A jack-o-lantern, sometimes also spelled 'Jack OLantern', is a pumpkin whose top and stem have been cut out and interior removed, leaving a hollow shell that is then decoratively carved. Jack-o-lanterns are associated with the holiday Halloween. The term is not particularly common outside North America.

Source: Wikipedia Article

More on Jack o lanterns

Sections of the pumpkin are cut out to make a design, often depicting a face. A variety of tools may be used to carve and hollow out the gourd, ranging from simple knives and spoons to specialized instruments. Printed stencils can be used as a guide for increasingly complex designs. It is possible to create surprisingly artistic designs, be they simple or intricate in nature. After carving, a light source (traditionally a candle, now often a battery-operated light) is placed inside the pumpkin and the top is put back into place. The light illuminates the design from the inside. Sometimes a chimney is carved in the lid to allow heat to escape.

Traditionally the carved pumpkin would be a face, often with a simple crooked toothed grin. But toward the end of the 20th century, artists began expressing every kind of idea they could imagine on pumpkins. Today, it is common to see portraits of political candidates, celebrities and cartoon characters.

Source: Wikipedia Article

Pumpkin Carving

How to Carve a Pumpkin

Step by step article on pumpkin carving and list of tools you will need.

Pumpkin Carving 101

Information about tools, stencils, tips, and photography.

The Pumpkin Wizard

Over 150 stencils and templates. This web site is devoted to the art of Pumpkin Carving.

Spookmaster

Halloween Pumpkin Carving and Painting Instructions

Follow these easy instructions for carving or painting your pumpkin with SpookMaster templates to create a masterful design!

Pumpkin Masters

America's trusted Halloween brand. Tips, carving tools -manual and powered, free patterns, contest. Each year, our products are featured on national television and consumer magazines such as Good Morning America, The Tony Danza Show, Better Homes & Garden, NFL Today and much more!

Stoneykins

Stoneykins.com is devoted to the art of pumpkin carving. This is a great site with hundreds of patterns to choose from.

History of the Jack o' Lantern

People have been making jack-o-lanterns at Halloween for centuries. The practice originated from an Irish myth about a man nicknamed "Stingy Jack." According to the story, Stingy Jack invited the Devil to have a drink with him. True to his name, Stingy Jack didn't want to pay for his drink, so he convinced the Devil to turn himself into a coin that Jack could use to buy their drinks. Once the Devil did so, Jack decided to keep the money and put it into his pocket next to a silver cross, which prevented the Devil from changing back into his original form. Jack eventually freed the Devil, under the condition that he would not bother Jack for one year and that, should Jack die, he would not claim his soul. The next year, Jack again tricked the Devil into climbing into a tree to pick a piece of fruit. While he was up in the tree, Jack carved a sign of the cross into the tree's bark so that the Devil could not come down until the Devil promised Jack not to bother him for ten more years.

Soon after, Jack died. As the legend goes, God would not allow such an unsavory figure into heaven. The Devil, upset by the trick Jack had played on him and keeping his word not to claim his soul, would not allow Jack into hell. He sent Jack off into the dark night with only a burning coal to light his way. Jack put the coal into a carved out turnip and has been roaming the Earth with it ever since. The Irish began to refer to this ghostly figure as "Jack of the Lantern," and then, simply "Jack O'Lantern."

In Ireland and Scotland, people began to make their own versions of Jack's lanterns by carving scary faces into turnips or potatoes and placing them into windows or near doors to frighten away Stingy Jack and other wandering evil spirits. In England, large beets are used. Immigrants from these countries brought the jack o'lantern tradition with them when they came to the United States. They soon found that pumpkins, a fruit native to America, make perfect jack o'lanterns.

Pumpkin Recipes - Fab-BOO-lous cooking ideas from all over the web!

Punkin Chunkin

Pumpkin chunking (or 'Punkin Chunkin' or pumpkin chucking') is hurling a pumpkin by mechanical means over great heights and distances in an attempt to hurl the pumpkin the farthest. In order of increasing effectiveness, the devices include compound slingshots, catapults, trebuchets, and pneumatic air cannons. The range achieved by loads greatly depends on their mass, shape, and size; the yield limits, stiffnesses, pitch, and elevation of the hurler; and the wind speed. The better pumpkin chunkers specially grow dwarf, regular, firm pumpkins ideal for use as a cannon projectile, as sabots are prohibited in competitions.

Such competitions disallow self- or ground-powered pumpkins by chemical reactions. Another rule is that the pumpkin must be whole after leaving the device for the chunking to count, which limits the forces in the cannon barrel (pumpkins that do not leave the barrel intact are referred to as "pumpkin pie in the sky"). Outside of lengthening the barrel, the limit is on the pumpkin which, as a corollary, of course must be natural. The special pumpkins grown by some are thus not suitable for eating. The latest record for a chunked pumpkin is about 4800 feet.

Source: Wikipedia Article

Pumpkin Throwing Competition

World Championship Punkin Chunk

Air cannons, slingshots and trebuchets, built specifically for flinging pumpkins!

Interesting Facts from the 2005 World Championship Punkin Chunk:

*91 Machines recorded measurements

*Grand Total distance shot was 52615.11' or 9.96 miles of chunkin!

*8 out of 11 classes set new records

*Top three finishers in all classes recorded 27 new personal best.

*39 additional machines achieved a new personal best

*2 new machines entered the 4,000' Club (Which only has 6 members)

2005 was not only a record for attendance by the general public, it was also a record year for CHUNKERS!

How are the machines classified?

Adult Air, Adult Centrifugal, Adult Catapult, Adult Trebuchet, Adult Human Power, Adult Human Power Centrifugal, Adult Torsion Catapult, Youth 11-17 Air, Youth 11-17 Catapult, Youth 11-17 Trebuchet, Youth 11-17 Human Power, Youth 10 & Under Catapult, Youth 10 & Under Trebuchet, Youth 10 & Under Human Power and Theatrical.

Other Uses for Pumpkins

No one knows exactly how old pumpkins are, but we do know that prehistoric peoples gobbled them up. Archeologists have dug up ancient pumpkin seeds in Native American cliff dwellings in Colorado and in Peruvian ruins. In fact, pumpkins were probably one of the first foods to be cultivated by natives of North and South America.

The traditional Native American way to cook a pumpkin was to plop a whole one into the ashes of a fire, bake it until it was tender, scoop out the soft flesh, and dribble it with maple syrup.

Europeans got their first taste of pumpkins soon after arriving in the New World in the early seventeenth century. The colonists called this newfangled food "pumpion" or "pompion." The plentiful pumpkin kept the hungry settlers from starving, and they soon learned many ways to cook it. The colonists feasted on pumpkin beer, pumpkin stew, and mashed pumpkin. They even ate the pumpkin flowers. In fact, the colonists ate so much of this squash, they sang this little tune: "We have pumpkin at morning and pumpkin at noon. If it were not for pumpkin, we should be undoon."

Sometime in the late seventeenth century, the colonists began a Thanksgiving tradition by combining cooked pumpkin with milk, eggs, and molasses to make pies. In 1705, Connecticut colonists in Colchester actually postponed Thanksgiving until they could get their hands on enough molasses to whip up a batch of pies.

Pumpkin pie became so popular that it was included in the first cookbook published by an American. Amelia Simmons printed the recipe in her book, American Cookery, in 1796. Her pie included one quart of pumpkin, three pints of cream, nine beaten eggs, and lots of sugar and spices.

The pumpkin was not just a life-saving food for the colonists. It had lots of other uses. Pumpkinseeds were steeped in hot water to brew a dark tea. This powerful potion was used as a medicine to treat tapeworm and other diseases.

According to an eighteenth-century book on the history of Connecticut, dried pumpkin shells gave the colonists a head start on haircuts. A pumpkin shell was placed on top of a colonist's shaggy noggin and used as a cutting guide. People with these hairstyles were called "pumpkin-heads."

You can even make your own pumpkin soap!

What do you have to say about Pumpkins?

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    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 3 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      Fascinating facts about pumpkins. Pumpkins have become so much associated with both Halloween and Thanksgiving. Loved the story of how 'Jack 'O Lantern' got its name!

    • TemporaryTattoo1 profile image

      TemporaryTattoo1 4 years ago

      We only see pumpkins in Ireland around Halloween time, pitty really cause of all the great recipes that exist here on squidoo that i wanted to try :(

    • profile image

      MikeDeHaan 4 years ago

      Your lens is a terrific resource, which I acknowledge in "Halloween Ideas for Healthy Eating with Pumpkin" in my DeHaan Fitness and Weight Control blog. Thanks!

    • Countryluthier profile image

      E L Seaton 4 years ago from Virginia

      Nicely done Punkin Pitching Squid!

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 4 years ago from United States

      Great pumpkin resource!

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