“ Squash fruit, usually orange in color when ripe (although there are also white, red, and gray varieties). Pumpkins grow as a gourd from a trailing vine of the genus Cucurbita (family Cucurbitaceae). Cultivated in North America, continental Europe, Australia, New Zealand, India and some other countries, Cucurbita species include Curcurbita pepo, Cucurbita maxima, Cucurbita mixta, and Cucurbita moschata all plants native to the Western hemisphere. The pumpkin varies greatly in form, being sometimes nearly globular, but more generally oblong or ovoid in shape. The rind is smooth and its color depends on the particular species (very dark-green, very pale-green, & orange-yellow are common). The larger kinds acquire a weight of 40 to 80 lb (18 to 36 kg) but smaller varieties are in vogue for garden culture. Pumpkins are a popular food, with their insides commonly eaten cooked and served in dishes such as pumpkin pie; the seeds can be roasted as a snack. Pumpkins are traditionally used to carve Jack-o'-lanterns for use in Halloween celebrations. „
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Pumpkins are probably the most wasted vegetable in the world as most of them are grown to use at Halloween. The majority of people just scoop out the inside and bin it not realising it is actually quite tasty. In my 4th year of gardening, the first year was hilarious but now I am more familiar with the type of plant they are and how to grow a nice pumpkin.
Be warned! Seed manufacturers such as Thompson Morgan will entice you to buy their pumpkin seeds by showing a picture of the worlds biggest pumpkin on the front with a small child sitting on it, before you buy this particular variety please be aware of how much space it takes up and what a large garden you will need in order to grow it!
I have grown these massive varieties and in my second year of gardening managed to get one so that when I posed for a photograph with it, I could only lift it for so many seconds - not quite a world record but a feat nonetheless. That was then, when I developed a large piece of land belonging to my parents that was strewn with weeds and filled it with veg - this is now and my garden can't accommodate such shenanigans any more.
You can get some pumpkin seed that grows small manageable and highly tasty pumpkins that don't end up like the giants you carve out for Halloween.
Like most veg, a pack of seeds starts from less than £1, before you buy and think about growing; please take into account how much space they literally consume...
Pumpkin plants, if left to their own thing can trail on forever like a beanstalk from a fairytale clinging along the soil. Each plant is supposed to be spaced out around 2-4 feet apart every way, but I have planted them closer with good results.
Pumpkins like it sunny, but not in full blown sun, so I suggest a small amount of shade from a hedge or tree at some point during the day.
You won't need a greenhouse or polytunnel to grow a pumpkin, but if you are going for it then be prepared for it to trail all over your garden (unless of course you control it!)
Pumpkin seeds are massive and if you drop them you can easily find it - unlike some other seeds which are so small that you could accidentally inhale them if you sneeze whilst sowing... They are about the same size as a guitar pick.
Sow in middle of spring to late spring in large pots (minimum of 20cm), one seed per pot. They germinate quite quickly and the plants will soon outgrow even that large pot.
Seeds are supposed to be placed on their side in the soil and not flat, this way the shoot that emerges finds its way to the surface without any problems.
You can even sow pumpkins in their final position from late spring, but be careful of frosts. If you sow directly outside then you can use an old plastic bottle with the top cut off as a way to propagate and protect the emerging seedling.
I start mine off in pots indoors and then transplant outside when all risk of frost has passed. By the time they are large enough to transplant, the stem is about an inch thick and the plant just slides out of the pot with its roots and is easy to place into its final position.
If you have a large patch of ground to grow pumpkins and let them go wild then great, be creative and plant them so that they all trail away from the centre of a circle.
Pumpkins like water so make sure they are regularly watered - you can also feed them with a high potash feed to encourage better plant growth and faster fruit growth when they have set - you guessed it... Tomorite is your friend!
Flowers on pumpkins are large and yellow - it is worth protecting them somewhat if the weather is very wet, last year most of the flowers on my pumpkins got battered and just fell off which delayed the fruit appearing on plants. You can see when a female flower is going to produce a pumpkin because it is visible at the base of the flower.
You have several options when growing pumpkins in restricting the plant, letting it go, restricting the number of fruits or just letting it go wild.
By letting it go wild, the plant will trail along the ground for months and can get as long as around 30+ feet without much trouble! The general rule is that you are supposed to cut off the growing tip f the plant when 3-4 fruits are visible on the plant, then like most other vegetables it means that the plant is putting its efforts into the fruits on it rather than trailing to next doors garden (or even the next street...) You will have to keep an eye on this as even though you remove the tip, this means the plant wont stop trying to grow - you'll find it growing longer still and you may have to give it a few snips still.
If you are growing a massive variety then you need to a) cut the tip off the plant to stop it growing and b) only allow the plant to grow one fruit - this way it puts all of its energy into one fruit, and not several as well as the plant.
I'd only suggest growing one giant if you want to impress the neighbourhood with your skills, for a local vegetable show or to try and break the world record (I don't think our climate will suffice for a record breaker though!). If you are slightly obsessed or mad about Halloween then you can also place a small car sized pumpkin at the end of your driveway to make everyone stop and stare...
When the pumpkins have formed, check where they have formed because the fruit needs to be kept as dry as possible on the surface it touches. Use a piece of wood, a brick or tile to lift it off the soil/grass and that way it wont rot from being exposed to the damp.
From sowing to harvesting you are looking at around 6 months, so literally end of September to mid-October for the harvest. You can tell when it's ripe because the colour will change to go quite dark orange, or if it's an unusual variety then check a picture online to see what you need to match it to. Quite a lot of pumpkins start off green and then ripen orange.
Pumpkin plants are quite spiky and if you grab a stem you can be left with bleeding hands from the little spikes that protrude. This is the plants defence against predators. Wear gloves when removing a pumpkin and use a small saw or serrated knife to cut the pumpkin off. Trust me, use a knife or saw because you won't be able to pull it off without seriously damaging the pumpkin, the plant or yourself!
Pumpkins can keep for quite a long time once picked; if you store them at 10 degrees in a cool environment with lots of air circulating then they can last for 3-6 months. A good crop can last the whole winter and be used for many warming meals!
Pumpkins aren't just for Halloween - you can use them in cakes, soups, pies and (the only way I like to eat them) roasted like parsnips. When you cut the pumpkin and use it in your cooking, be sure to save the seed and dry it out to use it next year, if you like them you can just reuse the seed. Seed can keep for many many years if it is stored correctly.
Why grow pumpkins?
To eat. For Halloween. To break a world or local record. To make your friends envious of your mad pumpkin-growing skills.
Seriously, they are fun to grow especially when the fruit develops they can grow in size within the space of a day noticeably. They can be expensive to buy for cooking; most of the ones for Halloween would be pretty gross if you ate them because they are modified to grow quickly for the purpose of carving them.
My second year in growing them, I had a pumpkin patch and they took over an area around 10 square meters and in the end I am pretty sure we had 30-40 pumpkins... They were shared with friends and family and we even sold some to local pubs to use in their seasonal meals! If you live in the countryside, why not start an "honesty box" where people leave money and take a pumpkin, it's a great way to make a few extra pounds and if you have the space, time and resources then they can be quite profitable and enjoyable too.
Thanks for reading, hope I have inspired or helped you and contact me with any questions.
Right, it's the end of the football season now so in my calendar that means it's time for frost sensitive plants to go outside - either as the small seedlings that have been taking up space on my kitchen window sill (much to the annoyance of Mrs 'dablue) or as seeds directly into the soil. One of the things I always grow are pumpkins - mainly for their vigour of growth and the fact that they produce huge long vines that make my back yard look like it's been fed on waste from Chernobyl.
Not only are they satisfying to watch grow, they produce some pretty useful fruits that make lovely soups and / or a lantern for the kids at Halloween.
As I alluded to above, pumpkins won't survive if they're exposed to frost so it's important to wait until at least the middle of May to make sure it'll be warm enough for them outside - either as a seed or as a seedling. When planting a pumpkin seed, it's a good idea to plant them on their edge so that water won't sit on the big flat teardrop shaped part of the seed, increasing the chances of it rotting before its had time to sprout.
The plant will pay you back in spades if you let it grow in rich soil / compost with plenty to drink - they are very thirsty plants and need regular feeding to sustain the massive growth. A soil containing some well rotted manure and a regular top up with blood and bone fertiliser does the job for me. Also, when planting out pumpkins, consider the space they'll need - they grow like stink and can take over if you don't plant them away from other plants which could easily be crowded out.
Pumpkins can either be left to trail along the floor or can be trained to climb up sturdy poles. If you go the climbing option, then it's best to use some very heavy duty support - pumpkins can grow to be very heavy (some varieties like Atlantic Giant require have to be grown on a wooden pallet and are only able to be moved by a forklift truck!). Whichever way you grow them, once the plant has three good pumpkins on it, pick off any remaining fruits which appear afterwards. This will ensure that all the plant's energy goes into just those three fruits which you've left on. Also, if you have any large leaves which are covering a fruit, remove these as the pumpkins themselves need exposure to good strong sunlight in order to ripen.
When you're left with three good fruits on the vine, stand these on some straw or a piece of wood to keep them off the floor where they could be susceptible to rotting. When it gets to September time, the plant itself will start to look tired - leaves will turn yellow and fall off and the vine will start to look dried out and hairy, but hopefully the pumpkins themselves will be fat, vibrantly coloured healthy looking fruits that are (hopefully) making the most of a still sunny and warm-ish month. I never leave the fruits on past October, as I can't guarantee frost free nights. When harvesting the pumpkins, leave on a "handle" of a few inches of the "mother" vine either side of the stem, it'll make handling them much easier.
Only store them if they are dry, hopefully they should a few months if kept indoors in a warm room.
PESTS AND DISEASES COMMON TO PUMPKINS
Aphids can cause mosaic virus to enter your plant. Mosaic virus causes spotting on the leaves, stunted growth and misshaped fruits. Prevention is better than cure, so try and prevent aphids from nibbling on your plants in the first place. There's two main ways of treating aphids - if you have a green conscience you can try attracting hoverflies and ladybirds to your garden by planting marigolds and building a "ladybird hotel". Or, if you don't mind making polar bears cry, you can inflict insect death at the end of a spray bottle, labelled with a skull and crossbones. I'm a fan of the first method, but I'll be honest and say that it's not as effective as using chemicals, but at least I know that the homemade pumpkin soup I give to my children hasn't got any chemicals in it which might help them grow a sixth finger.
Pumpkin soup is an easy way of using the huge amount of pumpkin fruit you should hopefully have in September time and is one of those dishes that announces the arrival of autumn - if eating seasonally floats your boat. With a little help from Monty Don's recipe, here's how I do it:
Peel your pumpkin, scoop out all the seeds (you can either bin them, dry them and replant next year or toast them and eat as dried seeds). Roughly chop about 750 grammes worth of pumpkin and sweat in a pan for about ten minutes with some olive oil, butter and two peeled chopped spuds. Add roughly half a litre of vegetable stock to this, two chopped tomatoes and some bay or sage leaves. Let this simmer for about ten minutes, the remove from the heat and once cooled enough, blast it in a blender to remove any lumps. Done. I also add a bit of cream for richness, but it's entirely up to you.
As mentioned above, you can air dry the seeds and have them as a healthy snack - I'll write more about why they're healthy below. Also, probably the most iconic use of pumpkins that springs to most peoples' minds is as a lantern for Halloween. A good pumpkin to use for this is "Jack of all trades" as its got that classic round shape but has a slightly flattened bottom which helps it to sit still when placed down - you wouldn't want a lighted candle rolling all over the place!
The pumpkin flesh itself is very low in calories, but high in vitamins A, C and E. The seeds are a good source of fibre, protein and zinc - a good mineral for us fellas in building up the strength of our "swimmers" (I'll say no more, let's keep it clean!).
Seed companies like Haddons, Thompson and Morgan, Marshalls etc all offer different pumpkin variety seeds in the UK. Commonly grown types include "New England Pie" (as the name suggests - it's a good one making pumpkin pies with), "Atlantic Giant" (you need LOTS of space for this one) and "Invincible" which has a blue/grey skin and looks fantastic. You shouldn't have to pay more than £2 for a pack of seeds, and most packs contain between 5 and 20 seeds - you don't need hundreds unless you're a commercial farmer (then you wouldn't buy them in this manner anyway!).
Try growing a pumpkin, it amazes me how fast they grow and they're one of the more satisfying crops to grow when the oh-so fussy parsnips and basil of mine fail repeatedly, I can always count on having a few good pumpkin plants to make up for it.
Pumpkins have become an increasingly common sight in UK supermarkets over the past few years. They are in season in the autumn and the variety most commonly seen in the shops is the giant pumpkin which is great for carving for Halloween but is tasteless and has a tough and stringy flesh. I occasionally cook with pumpkin and you need a far smaller variety grown especially for culinary use. For the past couple of years I have grown my own pumpkins in the garden and have grown both the giant variety and small sugar culinary variety.
Pumpkins are pretty easy to grow; the best time to sow them in the UK is between April and June. The pumpkin seed is large and it is best to start them off indoors in a pot of compost. They start to grow incredibly quickly with shoots appearing within a week and growth visible on a daily basis.
Once the plants are well established, you need to plant them outdoors. I have grown them in both a pot and in the ground and have had the best results in soil, possibly because the root system can spread out further.
The pumpkin plant continues to grow extremely quickly and soon needs support to stop the weight of the stem making it droop down to the ground. I have used normal garden canes for this which has worked well. Again growth can still be seen on a daily basis as the plant grows very quickly.
The plant starts to produce lots of huge leaves and small white flowers. It is best to remove some of them in order to let the plant concentrate its resources on a few flowers. I have always left a few flowers on the plant for pollination and in case you lose them for any reason (my kitten knocked the lone baby pumpkin off one plant last year for example).
The plant produces a number of vines which like to wrap themselves around anything they can find for support. I have found training them round canes works well and they take a firm hold very quickly. It is these vines which support the fruits.
The pumpkins themselves produce a number of fruits on the vines and it is best to allow each plant to only grow one or two fruits. You will notice a small bump under the flower and this will eventually grow into a pumpkin over a number of weeks. It is best not to handle the pumpkins too much as they can easily break from the stem while still small, as they get larger the stem will grow thicker.
The pumpkins will touch the ground, it is possible to support them with straw to stop them becoming bruised. The size of your pumpkin will depend on both the variety and the growing conditions but with a culinary pumpkin it is best to eat them when they are still reasonably small as they taste better. Once they are harvested from September to November they keep for a good length of time in a cool, dry place.
I have grown pumpkins for two years now and have had a decent crop both times. The pumpkin is an extremely greedy plant in terms of both water and food -I have used a multipurpose fertiliser with no problems and feed every couple of days. The only problem I have had with the plants is that the leaves have turned yellow when they have not been fed enough and this was corrected when I gave them an intensive feed.
Pumpkins do take up a fair amount of room in the garden but it is worth it for a few bowls of delicious pumpkin soup and a nice big pumpkin to carve at Halloween too. Kids will love to grow them because of the rapid growth which they will be able to see on a daily basis and they are also suitable for a novice gardener due to the ease with which they are grown.
So I admit im a little bit late and have missed the major annual pumpkin related event but what will you do with the orange beauties now? They are liable to be on offer in supermarkets everywhere as shoppers turn their backs on this fabulously versatile ingredient and so join me for a quick review of pumpkins and a few of my favourite pumpkin recipes!
Pumpkins are from the same family as squash and according to Saturday Kitchen at the weekend are seeing a huge surge in popularity as people like me realise there is more to them then making scary faces at Halloween (an art form in itself! A quick Google search brings up some incredible images and as you can imagine the US has plenty of Pumpkin carving contests). Amazingly they are considered to be a fruit but frankly it can be used for both sweet and savoury dishes. Generally speaking they are orange, green when not quite ripe, because of their colour they share many of the same nutrients as carrots, namely beta carotene which generates Vitamin A for the body and prevents build up of cholesterol on arterial walls. They contain a high level of fibre, 3 grams in one cup as well as potassium which can lower hypertension.
They generally weigh between 4-8 kg and I remember many years ago throwing the whole thing out on the 1st November! Disgraceful!
Thanks to Wikipedia I learnt that although we used to carve creepy faces into all other manner of vegetables it wasn't until the 1837 that we did the same to a pumpkin and even later before they became synonymous with Halloween. This year mine was lovingly turned into a ghost, I draw on them first and then spend a good hour perfecting the somewhat sinister image.
Once my pumpkin has had its night of glory I cut it into sections, remove the flesh and dispose of the rind. You can even utilise the pumpkin seeds (apparently great for prostate - just roast and eat as a snack. I easily end up with three separate meals out of a medium sized pumpkin which this year cost me £2.50 in Somerfield.
I use mine to make pumpkin and sage pasta, pumpkin pie, pumpkin and roasted red pepper soup.....
**Pumpkin & Sage Pasta**
A super speedy meal and good for the veggies...
400g chopped pumpkin
½ teaspoon sugar
50g butter (get ready to loosen those belt buckles!)
small bunch of sage (I use dried)
enough spaghetti for 2
juice of ½ lemon
25g of Italian hard cheese, I use Parmagiano
1. Tip the pumpkin into a medium-sized saucepan that has a tight-fitting lid. Sprinkle over the sugar and a generous pinch of salt, then drizzle over 3 tablespoons of water. Cover the pan, place on a medium heat and steam the pumpkin, stirring every so often for 10-15 minutes, or until it is soft but still holds its shape. You may need add a spoonful or two of water during the cooking the pan seems dry. Set aside.
2. While the pumpkin is steaming, tip the butter and sage into a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter is foaming, then turn off the heat. Boil the spaghetti in a big pan of salted water for about 10 minutes until just cooked. When the spaghetti is cooked, scoop out a little of the cooking water, then drain and return the spaghetti to the pan.
3. Put the sage butter over a high heat until sizzling, then pour in the lemon juice and let it splutter for a second. Tip the pumpkin, melted butter, 2-3 tbsp pasta water and half the cheese in with the spaghetti and give it a really good stir. Season generously with salt and pepper and serve with the remaining parmesan to sprinkle over.
A good old North American classic - I made this for the first time last year for a Canadian who was missing home and now adore it!! I cheat and use a ready made sweet pastry case because as usual Im pushed for time! This one is courtesy of Antony Warrhol Thompson.
For the filling:
450 g/1lb prepared weight pumpkin flesh, cut into 1in/2.5 cm chunks
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk (use the white for another dish)
3 oz/75g soft dark brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
10 fl oz/275 ml double cream
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
2. Use a shop bought sweet crust pastry case, about 9 inch/23 cm diameter and 1½ inches/4 cm deep.
3. To make the filling, steam the pumpkin then place in a coarse sieve and press lightly to extract any excess water.
4. Then lightly whisk the eggs and extra yolk together in a large bowl.
5. Place the sugar, spices and the cream in a pan, bring to simmering point, giving it a whisk to mix everything together. Then pour it over the eggs and whisk it again briefly.
6. Now add the pumpkin pureé, still whisking to combine everything thoroughly. 7. Then pour the filling into your pastry case and bake for 35-40 minutes, by which time it will puff up round the edges but still feel slightly wobbly in the centre.
8. Then remove it from the oven and place the tin on a wire cooling rack. Serve chilled (stored loosely covered in foil in the fridge) with some equally chilled créme fraïche, but warm or at room temperature would be fine.
Seriously tasty definitely worth a try!
**Pumpkin & Red Pepper Soup**
Warming and perfect for watching the fireworks with for Bonfire Night...
1kg of pumpkin, peeled and chopped
3 Ripe Tomatoes, chopped
1 Red Pepper, Halved and roasted until slightly soft
1 Red Onion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
I Large Tablespoon Crème Fraiche (optional but yummy!)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Some dried chilli and parsley to garnish
Gently fry the onion and pepper in the olive oil. Add the chopped garlic, then the tomato and pumpkin. Give all the ingredients a good stir and fry for a few more minutes, then add one and a half litres of water and bring to the boil. Cover the pan and simmer for about twenty minutes or until the pepper and pumpkin are cooked. Add the juice of half a lemon, the salt, pepper and simmer for another two minutes. Stir in the Crème Fraiche, then whizz the soup with a hand held liquidiser.
I hope you enjoy and if Im too late for this year that it inspires you for next!
Pumpkins are a great crop for novice and experienced gardeners alike. With careful choice of variety the crop is prolific, delicious, and, easy to store.
+++ What Pumpkin Plants need to thrive +++
1) Water - plenty of it.
2) Muck or compost.
3) Space to spread out
+++ Planting Pumpkins out +++
1) Dig a good sized hole and fill it with well rotted compost or equally well rotted strawy manure. If using compost a handful or two of chicken manure pellets would be welcomed by your plant too.
2) Plant a pumpkin plant into the organic matter in the hole. The compost or manure will not only provide much needed nutrients, it will also help to retain water.
3) Firm the roots well in with the heel of a boot, and water well.
Beware slugs! Take steps to control them using your favourite method. Water regularly and copiously in dry periods.
+++ Harvesting and Storing Pumpkins +++
Harvest pumpkins before the first frost, i.e. if you are worried there is going to be one, pick them! Ideally the stems will have dried and the skins hardened in the late summer/early autumn sun.
Store pumpkins in netting hammocks (old potato and onion bags suspended with string are ideal) in an unheated room in a heated house.
They should keep at least until Christmas, and if you are lucky, even longer.
Fall (or as soom say Autumn) is now upon us. Get ready for falling leaves, colder temperatures, less sun (was there even that much sun in the summer?) , and flowers to start dying. Although these are the negative side effects, many of us tend to forget all the positive ones. Like being able to now use our favourite jumpers and jackets, going on those last minute holidays up to Scotland (before it turns to ice), and....Pumpkins!
Growing up in the U.S., Pumpkins are a staple to the American diet of appreciating the changing of the season guard. You wake up one morning near the end of summer, go to a store, and see several types of squash and pumpkins (a type of squash) for sale. That's when you know when summer is officially over. You allow yourself ten seconds to be saddened by this before you smile and think mmmm "Pumpkin Pie"!
If there is one thing I miss from the states, it's Pumpkin Pie. I'm always so miffed when Fall rolls around in England and see that the most wonderful, mouth-watering, almost-good-for-you Pie is not being sold. I tell my brother-in-law (who's a native here) " Why don't you guys freaking have Pumpkin Pie". He counters that with " Why don't you "guys" have freaking bangers and mash"? Well, I can't argue with that.
There are a lot of various foods one country has that another one doesn't. They just don't seem to catch on, even if they taste mind-bogglingly good. (i.e. - Clotted Cream and Scones haven't reached the states, and Coney Dogs haven't reached Britain.....I don't get that). The biggest descrepancy in my mind though, is the quintessential "fall" seasonal foods.
I know this is a review that is suppposed to just be all about Pumpkins, but lets not forget there breathern Squash, and Goards, and Corn on the Cob, and Sweet Potatoes. You can make a million things out of those vegatables and yet many don't seem to understand how or even want to. WAKE UP PEOPLE!
These are the foods that actually "help" you lose weight believe it or not. If your craving carbs, simply cut up a sweet potato and make "Yam Chips" out of it, ( I'll post the receipe for that on here later), or take a butternut squash, cut it into cubes and toss it with some other grill-able veggies in the oven, and then there is one of the most versitile, the Pumpkin.
Let me break down for you all the things you can do with this veggie in a top 10 list.
1.) Make Pumpkin Pie:
Yes, i'm ramming this down your throat, but your going to kiss me later for forcing feeding it to you. It can be served hot, cold, with whipped cream or without or you can just spoon it off the crust like I do (I hate crust on pies....yes i'm weird).
I've known dozens of people who have ate an entire Pumpkin Pie all at once. It's just that good. You also don't have to be too concerned about fat/calories. This (and it's brother Sweet Potatoe Pie), are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and don't have a high amount of fat or sugars. If you eat it like I do in fact, it's even lower (crust is very fattening). Plus, it's very very VERY easy to make. I'll even include a recipe for you at the end of this review!
9.) Pumpkin Bread:
This includes all type of "breads" like Muffins, Cookies, and Coffee Cakes. If you were go go online and type in "Pumpkin Bread", you'll get a plethora of recipes. If you don't like any type of Pumpkin Bread I am willing to give you 100 quid. (Unless I know your lying just to get the 100).
These breads are also easy to make and are extremely moist. Pumpkin stops them from drying out. They also can be frozen in most cases and don't get hard or go bad quickly. I make them on occasion and give them to people as gifts, which sounds cheezy, but they're one of of the few foods I think are "giftable". Your kitchen smells amazing afterwards as well.
8.) Pumpkin Seeds:
Sunflower Seeds, Sesame Seeds, and what? Pumpkin Seeds? You can eat those? Yes.....yes you can. As a matter of fact, they're better tasting than those other two seeds mentioned above. You do have to do an at home roasting process for them, but it isn't that difficult.
The downside is that this is where all the fat is in a pumpkin. 1/2 Cup of Pumpkin seeds are about 22 grams of fat and 200 or so calories. Before you go off and say "No Thanks", remember that this is "Good Fat". Even if I hate when people say good fat, they do have a point. There is a huge difference between fats that were just not starting to differentiate.
Pumpkin Seeds are best used with trail mix or as a snack when you have a day where your active. Let's say you just went for a run with the dog and have a few hours before dinner but are starving. That's when you eat pumpkin seeds. It's similar to nuts the type of fiber, protein, and vitamins they have. They also will stay fresh for a long time if you keep them in the fridge.
7.) Pumpkin Cheesecake:
I had to put this here even it is slight decadant. If your a cheesecake lover, then you must make this or have someone make if for you as soon as possible. I have nothing more to say about this than....it's ******* Good.
6.) Pumpkin "Leftovers":
If you buy a large Pumpkin you will have TONS of leftovers. Most of you will not have enough time in the day to open up a pumpkin, scoop it out (which is a little gross mind you), and then use all the insides for various recipes. Generally you'll have one desert in mind and will need to discard the rest not called for. So, you just throw it away? Wrong.
If you have a dog then you have a winner. It's not bad for them, just the opposite. If you have a garden then there's another way. Simply, mix it with the soil. My grandfather would do this to his garden in the fall. Take all the leftovers from pumpkins and mix them with his garden soil. It helps keep in the moisture.
4.) Pumpkin Casserole:
Everyone thinks you can only use this veggie for deserts. That is far from the truth. There are lots of recipes that call for this in savory dishes too. Look it up for yourself. It might be another way to "get rid of" your leftovers too.
3.) The Hard Pumpkin Shell:
This might be a stretch for some of you that aren't females, but if you cut up hard outter pumpkin shell into small chunks and soak them in a large pot full of water, cinnamon, and nutmeg you have just made some very nice potpourri. I saw this once on a Martha Stewart Show.
You boil/soak the shell portions with some cinnamon and nutmeg until they're soft then let them sit in the sun until the moisture is dried out. It works a lot faster if you have a freeze drying machine but you do the same with apple peels as well. Mix some dried apple peels with the cinna-nutmeg-pumpkin and you have some amazing smelling stuff to put around the house.
2.) Halloween Jack-O-Laterns:
I don't celebrate Halloween myself, but for those of you that do, it's a fun treat for the kids to get a Pumpkin and cut out some faces in them. Just make sure they are watched with the knife. I'm sure you might watch to even help them do it if they are under than 11 or 12. You clean out the inside after taking the "top off" , then after the kids cut out the faces, you can stick one of those tealight candles inside. It's just spooky enough for the kids to love it without freaking out.
1.) Decorative Pumpkins:
My favorite thing to do in the fall is take several different sizes of pumpkins and set them outside on my porch. Usually I mix other goards and squash with them, but even alone they look nice. It's a cheap way to celebrate the season and they last well into the winter. Most Pumpkins don't "go bad" for several months. If your not a cook, this is the easiest way to go. =)
So there you have it. 10 ways to use and appreciate Pumpkins. I pray at least someone reading this can one day use one of them (hopefully the pumpkin pie). Have a Happy Fall!
Pumpkins are known as a wonder vegetable.
It comes from the same family as the squash and gourd they are large and orange both on the inside and outside. They have a hard skin and contain lots of large seeds inside. (these can be dried and planted to grow your own).
The seeds are planted in the spring and harvested in the autumn if the skin does not have any bruises or blemishes they can be kept in the cool for up to 6 months.
The word pumpkin comes from the Greek word Pepon meaning large melon. The English termed it Pumpion or Pompion back in 1547.
Pumpkins was one of the many foods used by the Native American Indians both as food and to weave rugs. It was a welcome discovery by the pilgrims. This is why pumpkins are always served up at thanksgiving.
Pumpkins are also associated with halloween and used to make laterns.
Pumpkins have many beneficial properties and are a good source of vitamin A and C and are high in potassium and magnesium. They also contain vitamin B6, vitamin E, folate, iron, phosphoric, panthotheic acid and copper.
They are low in salt and saturate free and can help lower cholesterol.
For 100grams of pumpkin there is 20 calories so they are good for dieting. Pumpkin also helps curb the appetite.
Pumpkins contain lots of antioxidants and protects the immune system. They are very good for the eyesight and can protect against cancer, heart diease and strokes.
Recipes for pumpkins are very limited and I have only found pumpkin pie and a bland pumpkin soup. But they are much more versatile than this. I have made a soup with it but spiced it up. I also like to roast pumpkin with vegemite on it for extra flavour. They are good plain just as a vegetable with meat or fish or in stir-frys and curries or mashed together with potato (especially on top of Shepherds pie).
I have also made pumpkin whisky and pumpkin wine.
You can but pumpkins in supermarkets, markets and fruit and veg shops. You can buy them either whole, in half or wedges if you only want a small amount. The cost usually depends on weight but sometimes shops sell a whole one for a certain price.
Pumpkins are soft with a delicate sweet taste. Ideal for children and very good for the whole family.
It is that time of year again when I go to my veggie patch and select a couple of voluptuous pumpkins to make Halloween lanterns and soup. Well actually I am telling a small fib because this year they are more like large oranges than giant footballs. I blame global warming, but if there is one thing that pumpkins like while they are growing it is regular water, and lots of it. My water butts were empty for part of the summer so everything suffered slightly this year. Never mind, they will probably taste slightly better than the big ones.
So let's start at the beginning. I started growing pumpkins several years ago when my children were small and they were easily impressed by how quickly pumpkins grew. They are, usually, quite easy to grow to a football sort of size, although if you are looking for a monster then some specialist tender loving care is necessary.
First, a little background information about pumpkins. Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family - technically known as Cucurbitaceous. Also part of this family are marrows, courgettes, squashes and melons. Pumpkins are a squash and the squashes are divided into summer (when they are ready for harvesting) and winter (again when ready for harvesting) varieties. Summer squashes include marrow and courgette (aka zucchini in Italy and the US), the winter squashes include butternuts and pumpkin .
Pumpkins originally come from America and the word 'squash' originates from the Native American word 'askutasquash' which means 'to be eaten green or raw'. Strangely, the word pumpkin originates from the French word pampion which means 'sun-baked squash'. In the UK we usually think of a pumpkin being the large, round, orange squashe used at Halloween and rather bizarrely as Cinderella's carriage. The American tradition of eating pumpkin at Thanksgiving dates back to the Pilgrim Fathers. When they settled in New England they declared a day of thanks and prayer for the collected harvest in the autumn of 1621. At that time pumpkins were prepared by removing the tops and seeds and filling the cavity with milk, honey and spice and then baked in an oven.
So how to grow your own. At the time of writing (October) if you haven't already done this then your Halloween pumpkin will have to be bought in, I saw them in Tescos the other day for £1.99, but carry on reading and then you will be ready for next year.
Packets of seeds can be easily bought for about £2 from garden centres, DIY stores, supermarkets or even your village store if there is still such a thing near you. The seeds are an off white colour, a flat oval shape and just over a centimetre in length. Pumpkins like a rich soil so you should prepare the ground by digging in lots of compost or rotted manure. I have also had success by growing them in a grow bag which can be bought from most garden centres for little more than a pound. If you are using a grow bag I would suggest you grow just one or two plants as they grow big are very hungry for nutrients and water. You should try to find a sunny spot away from strong winds as, despite their brutish façade, they are in fact not too hardy a plant. It is recommended to make a small mound or hill of rich soil about 2 feet apart in which you plant the seed. The seeds should be sown in late May or early June at about 1 inch deep in the hills. Traditionally these seeds are planted with the seed on its edge but I know people who just plant them any which way so perhaps they know instinctively which way to grow on their own. Soaking the seeds overnight before planting will speed up germination. If you have a cloche to use for a couple of weeks then that will also hasten germination and protect the young plants from peckish birds. Germination is quite quick - about 6-9 days
The first leaves to appear are a round edged baby pair but soon after appear the true leaves with jagged edges a bit like a green five pointed star. Once three or four of these true leaves have developed the plant really takes off and you can almost see it grow some days. At about this time you need to decide which plants look the strongest and thin them out so they are spaced at least 3-4' apart from each other. I always find this hard to do as I hate pulling out healthy plants but you do need to be resolute. When the plant is growing so rapidly children can have loads of fun by marking each days growth with a stick or stone and checking back to see how much the plant has grown.
About 10 weeks or so after planting the flowers will start to appear. This is when you have to understand the birds and bees of the pumpkin... Some flowers are male and some female. Both are a golden yellow colour so you have to look closely to tell them apart. The males tend to be more numerous and are on a thin stalk behind the petals. The female flower can be identified by the small bulbous mini green pumpkin behind the petals. Ideally on a warm summer's day you can just let nature take its course and allow the bees to do the pollinating for you. If the weather is not so good, or you would prefer to give a helping hand, then remove a male flower and fold back the petals and push it gently onto a female flower. Alternatively you can use a small paint brush to gather pollen from the male flower and paint it into the centre of the female flower.
Pumpkin plants like to be kept moist at all times so if there has been no rain you will need to go out and water them. Try to water the roots rather than over the leaves. If you are really keen to pamper your pumpkins then drip systems and soaker hoses are ideal. They are a very efficient use of water, are fairly reasonably priced and easy to install. They will still need a regular soaking with a watering can even if you use a drip system. You need to remember these plants can grow to at least 20 feet long so make sure there is enough space to wind the vine round your garden. It is possible to make good use of space by winding the vine round where tall veggies are growing, for example around runner beans or sweet corn.
However the flowers have been pollinated once the fruits start to swell you need to feed about every 1-2 weeks with a tomato feed or similar. If you are hoping to grow really big pumpkins you should limit the number of pumpkins to about two per plant by pinching out new growths, otherwise 3-4 per plant would be alright. When tending to the plants I would recommend wearing gardening gloves as the vines are in fact quite prickly.
The moist soil around the Pumpkin plant makes it a magnet for slugs and snails. They scrape away the outer skin to eat the soft inner flesh. If possible you should place an old tile or a piece of plastic under the growing pumpkin which may deter them slightly and this will also prevent the pumpkin from starting to rot on the damp soil. There are various slug pellets on the market although I prefer to keep my veggie patch as organic and free from chemicals, as far as possible, so I can't really recommend any chemical pest control.
Pumpkins should be allowed to mature on the plant, although they must be picked before the autumn frosts arrive. When harvesting you will have to use a very sharp knife, although I have been known to resort to garden shears. Try to leave a piece of the stem several inches long as this helps them to stay fresh and will delay rotting. The winter squashes need to be cured by allowing them to stand, after harvesting, for about a week in a warm greenhouse or a dry sunny spot in the garden. This will harden their skins and if you tap the pumpkin it will sound hollow. They are then ready to move to a cool, dark place where they can be happily stored for a couple of months. You do need to make sure they are not touching each other in storage as this will cause accelerated rotting.
If you want to grow pumpkins purely for size then 'Hundredweight' is a popular variety and more recently 'Atlantic Giant' has arrived from the U.S. and seems to grow even bigger. The heaviest UK grown pumpkin record stands at a whopping 1124 lbs, grown by Ian & Stuart Paton in 2006. The world record for the heaviest pumpkin is held by one grown in the U.S. which weighed a gargantuan 1689 lbs and was grown by Joe Jutras in 2007. Unfortunately these larger specimens tend to lack flavour, are very fibrous and not really so good in the kitchen. This is not really surprising as pumpkins are in fact about 90% water. If you are growing pumpkins for the kitchen then choose one of the smaller varieties such as 'Autumn Gold' which have a slightly sweeter flavour, although still, to be honest, do taste rather bland.
Now you have your pumpkin in time for Halloween it just needs carving out. First draw a circle about 6 inches or so around the stalk, ideally large enough to get your hand through. Cut round your line to make a lid. If you keep the knife angled slightly towards the centre of the pumpkin you will get a lip so the lid does not fall through onto the candle. Carefully scoop the flesh out with a spoon until hollowed and empty. You may need to hold the spoon by its bowl to get extra leverage while scooping. The more you get out the easier it will be to carve although don't make the walls less than about 1 inch thick otherwise they will dry out too quickly and your creation will soon become all wrinkly and withered. Draw your face design on the outside of the pumpkin, or let your children do it, with a felt tip pen letting your imagination go wild; although being practical you need to make the eyes, nose and mouth fairly large because you will find it difficult to cut out tiny features however artistic they may be. For the cutting you will need to use a sharp knife so best not let the children do this, we don't want any real blood in the design. Once the face has been carved you can place a lit tea-light in the pumpkin and replace the lid, this is when you are glad that you cut the lid big enough to get your hand comfortably in and out. If you have a particularly large pumpkin you may need two or three tea lights to achieve maximum effect. This is really simple to do and can look very scary when the lights are out, particularly for younger children. I can remember having to take one out of the kitchen, many years ago, as my daughter couldn't eat her tea as she found the lantern too scary! When Halloween is over the lantern can be put in the compost bin to start the growing cycle all over again.
Waste not want not and pumpkins are a wonderfully nutritious food, so after carving your lanterns here are a couple of ideas of what to do with all that lovely orange flesh. Pumpkins are low in fat and sodium and rich in potassium, vitamins A and C and of course fibre. Unfortunately they have a somewhat bland and slightly sweetish flavour which is not particularly pleasing on its own. Pumpkins therefore combine well with other more flavoursome ingredients in cooking and can be used in many recipes including soup (probably one of the most usual things to make) and pumpkin pie which is traditionally served in America at Thanksgiving.
The seeds are also edible and are an excellent source of magnesium, zinc and Omega oils. When you have scooped out the seeds rinse them in a sieve under running water and pat them dry with kitchen paper. Spread the seeds on a roasting tray, brush with a little vegetable oil and bake them in a moderately hot oven for about 20 minutes. If you like you can sprinkle on some herbs or spices before cooking to make a change. Give the seeds an occasional shake as they bake to make sure they don't burn. They make a delicious snack and a good alternative to crisps to nibble on.
Here are two recipes I have used. I make no apology for the measures all being in old money.
To make pumpkin pancakes you will need:
8 oz plain flour, wholemeal if you prefer
¼ pint pumpkin purée
½ pint milk
2tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2tbs vegetable oil
You make the pumpkin purée by baking pumpkin chunks in a hot oven or by boiling in a pan for about 10 minutes until soft and then liquidising with a little milk or water.
Combine all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Beat together the pumpkin purée, egg yolks, milk and oil in a second bowl. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and then, in another bowl, beat the egg whites into soft peaks. Sorry, lots of washing up here. Then fold the egg whites into the batter. Then cook like regular pancakes in a frying pan with a little hot oil. I like it served with golden syrup, but I do have a sweet tooth!
Another idea is to make pumpkin soup which is a warm and comforting dish - great for cold winter nights. For this you will need:
1 ½ lbs pumpkin cut in chunks
1 lb potatoes cut in chunks
1 large onion, diced
1 stock cube made up to 1 pint or you can use home made stock
1 pint milk
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon
Pinch of nutmeg
1 oz butter and 1 tbsp vegetable
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt the butter with the oil in a large pan and fry the onion until it starts to soften. Add the pumpkin and potatoes. Stir well and cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the pan. Stir in the stock, nutmeg and tarragon and simmer gently until the vegetables are soft - about 10 minutes. Allow to cool slightly and then blitz in a blender until smooth. Pour back into a clean pan and add the milk and any extra seasoning according to your taste. This will give four generous portions. Serve with hot crusty brown bread, yum.
What ever you decide to do I hope you have a wonderful Halloween full of spookiness and fun.
©perfectly-p 2007 (aka perfectlypolished)
It breaks my heart, it really does. It happens every year in spite of the warnings. Pestered parents succumb to their childrens demands and for one day it becomes the sole focus of the familys attention. But the very next day its out on its ear, left to fend for itself
Is this what happens in your home? Shame on you! Surely you know that a pumpkin isnt just for Halloween!
Looking around at this time of year, however, one might think that pumpkins existed only to be carved up at Halloween. Speaking as someone who lists the pumpkin as her number one vegetable (though it is strictly speaking a fruit), I find this not only annoying but also frustrating. A well-carved pumpkin does look fantastic with a candle inside it but we see pumpkins for sale for such a short time that to me it seems a waste to use them in this way.
The pumpkin is a really versatile vegetable and can be used in a huge array of savoury and sweet dishes. It also has lots of health benefits as well as being very tasty and something that does not perish quickly stored in the right conditions. However, most people have never sampled pumpkin even those who buy one to make a jack olantern every October. They really are missing a treat!
Pumpkins originated in South America but are now grown widely in North America as well as continental Europe, Australia and India. It is related to the squash and to the courgette and comes in a wide variety of breeds but the pumpkin that appears in our stores in October ready for carving is the Connecticut Field variety.
It is thought that carving vegetables to make lanterns originated with the Celts; 31st October marked the end of their calendar year and they would place a burning candle inside a carved turnip or beet to ward off evil spirits. One of the spirits was known as Stingy Jack and is where the name Jack olantern came from. Irish emigrants took the tradition to America and pumpkins became the vegetable of choice for this lantern.
It is possible to grow pumpkins in Britain though I have never had the garden space to try for myself. I have, however, apprised myself of some of the important factors. First, you need a sunny spot in which to grow pumpkins. In Britain it is best to start your seeds off indoors then transfer then outside once the frosts have died off. Early May would be a good time. You need to make a small hill of soil roughly 3 feet across. Next make a small moat around it, about five inches deep this helps keep the plants well watered. Sow 4 seeds in a circle in the middle of the hill they should be about 6 to 8 inches apart. As with other planting, it is helpful to soak the seeds overnight to help them sprout more easily. Finally cover them with about an inch or so of soil.
The seeds should sprout in about two weeks. Then to small leaves will appear and a day or so after this the true leaves will start to appear. Pumpkins grow on a vine and this can be a very strong plant but not one that will a detrimental affect on other planting. They can stand a lot of pruning too so you can be quite ruthless though pumpkin plants do benefit from sprawling. You should plant in rich soil and pumpkin cultivation is vastly helped by the use of manure or other soil enriching products that can be bought widely. Since a pumpkin consists of nearly 90% water, it is safe to say that you should not be afraid to water your plants as much as possible, Regular and prolonged watering will do them no harm at all.
Around the end of August your pumpkins should be approaching a nice size and starting to develop that lovely rich orange colour we associate with this seasonal gourd. If you have chosen that variety of course. Pumpkins come in lots of different colours including white, pale green, dark green and even robust red. They also come in different shapes though the Connecticut Field is almost a globe. When your pumpkin is starting to develop well you should shuffle it round a bit so it sits upright (with the stalk at the top) and this will promote a better, rounder shape.
On average a pumpkin of this variety will be somewhere between 10 and 15 Kilogrammes but the largest ever grown was recorded in September 2007 in the United States and weighed in at 766 Kilogrammes. This would make a lot of pies.
Sweet pies are probably the dish that most people associate with pumpkins; is a dish traditionally served at Thanksgiving dinners in the United States and one I love to make. You can eat pumpkin pie all year round by using tinned pureed pumpkin but I dont think its anywhere near as good as fresh pumpkin.
Smoked haddock and pumpkin soup is another favourite in our house along with a pumpkin and chickpea curry, a Mexican dish of pumpkin in chocolate and chilli sauce and a delicious pumpkin pate that takes a while to make but is worth the effort. Wherever you might use a butternut squash you could use pumpkin in its place so pumpkin is great for all kinds of soups, stews and curries.
I wont give any recipes here but will be happy to send them to readers who contact me with requests. What I will say is that the secret to a good pumpkin pie is plenty of maple syrup and a liberal sprinkling of cardamom.
You dont need any special equipment for preparing pumpkin but it should be said that it does require some brute force to slice into a pumpkin and to peel it. If your recipes requires the flesh to be pureed the best way is to steam a wedge of it in a piece of aluminium foil for about forty minutes then the flesh can be easily scraped out of the skin.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF EATING PUMPKIN
Briefly, these are the benefits of eating pumpkin: it has no cholesterol, it is very low in salt, it contains high quantities of beta-carotene that is said to reduce the risk of certain cancers and lowers the risk of heart disease. If that wasnt enough eating the seeds (known as pepitas and often flavoured with spices in South America) is thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer as well as being a good source of magnesium, zinc, essential fatty acids and potassium.
I dont know why we dont much eat pumpkin any more. Maybe people take one look at this big old vegetable and think its going to require a lot of preparation and have a long cooking time?
A few years ago I was in Slovakia and during a train journey I noticed with some excitement lots of fields full of pumpkins ready to be harvested. However, I didnt see any for sale in the markets or any restaurants serving dishes containing pumpkin. So I asked Milo, my Slovakian chum who told me in astonishment Those things! They feed those to animals!
I dont understand why this fabulous food is so neglected. Its cheap I bought one a few days ago and will probably get about six meals out of it (for two people), it cost only £2.00, its nutritious and its versatile.
Dont get me wrong Im not saying dont carve a pumpkin. Just dont throw the flesh away. Use it, go on, and give it a try. You might be surprised!
Pumpkins are cool. My life revolves around Pumpkins. When I was a small boy I was the junior Pumpkin King in Circleville Ohio which has the annual world renown pumpkin show. I won my title with my awesome display of baton twirling. My hero John Holmes is also from Circleville but he died. I still collect pumpkins and have a rather large pumpkin patch. So what are pumpkins? They are a great big gourd that can be eaten in many ways although most people only eat pumpkin pie or carve their pumpkin into a demonic face that they put a candle in to celebrate the satanic festival called Hell-o-ween. But pumpkins are good for one thing where there is no substitute, and that is a night of good old fashioned pumpkin smashing. You can use a watermelon for a jack o'lantern or even buy a plastic one but only one thing knocks a mailbox down with that satisfactory thunk, and that is a 22 pound pumpkin thrown out of a 76 malibu at 85 miles per hour. Indians actually grew pumpkins to eat. They did not have cars or mailboxes or Helloween and also they did not have green grocers so they had to grow all their own stuff and they had the three sisters; corn, beans and squash. I guess pumpkins don't count much then but I think they seem like squash. The pilgrims came to America and they brought stuff like collections of Greek historicals and one guy brought 22 hats but no one brought seeds or even a cow so they had to rely on the Indians, one of which, whose name sounded like squanto had been living in Europe for 20 years. He helped the pilgrims survive, if you can call it that since half of them died right away, but at any rate he taught them to eat pumpkins. My wife used to love to eat pumpkin. She would slice it up and bake it with olive oil and mazzarella cheese on it. I hated it. I collect baskets shaped like pumpkins. I have 73. I also have 53 sets of salt shakers featuring the shape of a pumpkin. I made a very nice latch hook rug w
ith a picture of a cat peeking out of a pumpkin. Pumpkin pie is like our national dessert and anyone who does not have a pumpkin pie on their dinner table on Thanksgiving day is subject to deportation by the Immigration and Naturalization service, it is a new law that came out after September 11th. So lets talk about pumpkin smashing. There are a few approaches to this hobby. The idea is basically to smash someones jack O'lantern. I know this sounds mean spirited, but the naive people are celebrating satanism by supporting Helloween and you could help save their soul if you stop them. That is why it is ok to smash pumpkins. The best way to smash a pumpkin is to throw it against the persons door so it splatters all over and wakes them up. See once you carve up your pumpkin it gets all groddy inside and bugs start to live there so it smells and then it gets wet and rotten and the candle makes all kind of soot all over. Another good thing is to smash the pumpkin right on their porch so the slip when they run outside to chase you down the street. That is how most people smash pumpkins but it is also fun to take them in your car and throw them out of the car but you are liable to get all sorts of messy stuff all over you doing this. All these people don't know crap about growing pumpkins. They turn it into a pecker contest and try to grow a 1200 pounder when they are like eating plasterboard. Anything over 18 pounds is a granite boulder and taste like pumice. Pumpkins suited for eating need to be about 8-15 pounds and grown on the outskirts of the patch preferably next to your tomatoes and marijuana plants. And these sillie bastards in Ohio even have pumpkin flavored ice cream. I hate Ohio. I hate these people. I hate the fact my mom made me be in the Jr Pumpkin Prince competition and twirl a baton. I have sexual dysfunction because of this. I hate everybody. I want to talk about Helloween too. I
t is supposed to be the kids dress up in costumes and scare off all the evil spirits. Now I have seen the exorcist a lot and I watch amityville horror 87 times and I plain don't think these evil spirits are going to be scared of "Bob the Builder" and "Power Rangers". You gotta realize these demons are like 6000 years old and have seen some hard stuff and a plastic mask of Elmo isn't going to terrify them. But I bet you they ran scared this year. All the kids dressed up like Firemen and cops, and anyone in America since September 11th knows when you see either of them, cops or firefighters they are going to try to shake you down for a contribution to thier relief fund, so if the Demons are careful with their money they probaly hit the bricks and fled to the desert.
There is plenty of technical information on growing Pumpkins on the web and in books, but in my experience you don’t need to do anything very complicated to get a lot of fun and satisfaction out of growing Pumpkins. The plants grow very quickly; have lovely big showy leaves a bit like Rhubarb or Gunnera (smaller) and attractive spiral tendrils. The vines grow to six foot or longer and will trail over the lawn or wherever they can. The flowers are yellow and attractive to insects. You can use seeds that you have saved from a bought pumpkin or buy some. Look at the varieties if you buy seeds as some are more inclined to grow bigger. Alternatively you could buy plants from a nursery although this will be more expensive and it is easy to germinate your own. If you have a suitable place you can plant the seeds direct into the earth – make little heaps and plant a few seeds in each, but they need warmth to germinate and I have found it better to start them off in pots of peat indoors. Once they have a couple of leaves they can go outside but will need to be protected from frost and slugs. I have grown substantial pumpkins (50lbs maybe) in grow bags and spare corners of my garden, where they tend to find their own space. They like the sun and need regular water, as they are quite shallow rooted, and they may like a feed. I didn’t need to add anything but water to my grow bags, but their feeding needs will depend on your soil. You may get quite a few fruits growing on each plant but if you cut them back to say four it will encourage them to grow big. Eventually you can leave just one pumpkin to grow on and hopefully it will turn into a real whopper. You may end up with a lot of pumpkin flesh to use, but they will keep for some months if they are undamaged or you could freeze some. You can make a sweet pie by mixing the cooked flesh with egg custard and spices and baking it in a pastry case. It makes
very good soup and can be roasted or mashed. With imagination you can find all sorts of ways to use the flesh in your cooking and some people find it is very soothing to the digestion. Pumpkins are worth growing just for their appearance and the novelty of producing really big fruits. I came to pumpkin growing fairly late in life and wonder why I ever bought them for Halloween. An early autumn walk down the garden to see how they are getting on is a good way to appreciate the changing seasons.