All about pumpkins

By Beth Moore

October 31, 2013

Pumpkins are a type of gourd that grows on just about every continent (Antarctica not included). The majority of pumpkins are bought and sold around Halloween, commonly to convert to jack-o-lanterns. However, pumpkins can be used as a delicious food source. Here is some other interesting information about pumpkins.

Pumpkins are believed to have originated in North America. Seeds from pumpkins dating back to 7000 B.C. have been found in Mexico. The name “pumpkin” evolved originally from the Greek word “pepon,” for large melon. The French called them “pompon,” and the English eventually changed the word to “pumpion.”

There are dozens of varieties of pumpkins and they come in many colors, including white, besides the familiar orange. Most pumpkins can be harvested for carving. However, certain varieties are better for cooking. These include the Buckskin, Chelsey, Dickinson Field, and Kentucky Field.

It is possible for the home gardener to grow pumpkins. It may take a few tries, but the results can be worth it if pumpkins eventually form. Keep in mind that although pumpkin plants will produce several flowers throughout the life of the plant, a person can expect only one to two actual pumpkins per vine. Pumpkin plants naturally produce separate male and female flowers on the same plant for pollination.

Pumpkin plants should be watered, but only the roots, in the early morning or during the day for good health. Wet leaves can lead to mildew. Later-day watering may result in powdery mildew, a blight that can form and spread quickly. Bugs are another problem that may destroy a pumpkin plant. The cucumber beetle is a carrier of plant disease.

Of course, if growing pumpkins seems too much work, a trip to a local pumpkin patch is a good excursion for families. Pumpkins ripen at the end of summer into early fall. However, it could be best to wait until later in the season to pick a pumpkin because a picked or carved pumpkin won’t last forever. And most people will want to be sure their pumpkin is on proud display for Halloween.