Pumpkins: Not just for jack-o-lanterns anymore

For home décor, especially for Thanksgiving displays, it’s hard to beat pumpkins combined with corn stalks and hay bales.

Pumpkins are often a child’s first introduction to horticulture, and from their early history in the Americas to their future in space gardening research, they deserve a little more credit than just being a jack-o-lantern. For home décor, especially for Thanksgiving displays, it’s hard to beat pumpkins combined with corn stalks and hay bales.

All pumpkins are indigenous to North America and were grown along with corn by native Americans, making them one of the first companion crops. Members of the cucurbitaceae family, their close relatives are watermelon, gourds, squash and cantaloupe.

Recently a flurry of new pumpkin varieties has being developed. A bush-type variety, called Spirit, which has vines that only spread about three feet, delights pumpkin growers with limited space. It is prolific, much like a zucchini, and harvesting a dozen or more ten to fifteen pound fruits is not uncommon.

For more adventurous growers, there are various strains of the Atlantic Giant available. They are bred for size. The winning entries in the World Pumpkin Confederation Weigh Off now exceed 1,200 pounds. You would need a chainsaw to carve these monsters and a shovel and wheelbarrow to clean them out. They also look ugly. A much nicer giant is Prizewinner, which averages 90 to 100 pounds and actually looks like a pumpkin.

On the sweeter side, smaller is better.  Sugar or pie pumpkins are the traditional varieties for pies.  Grown from seed stock imported from China, Stokes Seeds Canada has introduced a series of small varieties like Sweetie Pie. Considered a delicacy in China, these miniature pumpkins fit nicely in the palm of your hand. They average only five ounces in weight, measure about three inches across and about one inch deep – real giants. They are very attractive because of their deep ribbing and can be dried like gourds for neat table decorations. A white and orange striped variety, called Pumkemon, and a white one, called Baby Boo, cook up nicely too.

White pumpkins are all the rage, and varieties like Lumina and the larger New Moon and Full Moon are all over websites like Pinterest as the latest and greatest. Flat ribbed varieties, like Cinderella, are hot too and very unique.

Little Lantern, School Time and Orange Smoothie will be of interest to young pumpkin growers. They measure only five to seven inches across, but they really produce lots of little, five to eight pound fruits in eight weeks. They make great pies too. The tiniest is PeeWee which is about the size of a softball and makes great table décor.

Pumpkin seeds, which are very high in vitamins, are a delicacy in the Middle East. With the development of two new varieties, Tricky Jack and Lady Godiva, there are now hull-less seeds, which can be eaten like peanuts when lightly roasted. From Japan comes a new edible seed variety called Kakai. It’s awesome and its fresh seeds are sweet and nut-like.

We all know about those scrumptious pumpkin pies. Another delicious pumpkin dish is made by baking or steaming pumpkin meat, then seasoning it with butter, salt, pepper and molasses. Pumpkin bread and pumpkin cookies stuffed with raisins are popular favourites. In the Caribbean Islands, one of the staple foods is pumpkin soup.

The Land Pavilion in Epcot Centre at Disneyworld, Florida, is experimenting with pumpkins as a food source for space expeditions. Trained upward along ropes, the vines grow about thirty feet high and are loaded with perfect 10- to 15-pound pumpkins. It is nice to think that the jack-o-lantern we carve on Halloween to keep the evil spirits away has a great history and an even brighter future. Let’s hear it for pumpkins.

Brian Minter is a master gardener.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

page * arabic2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

OBITUARY: Sherrold Haddad brought giant Canadian flag to Surrey car dealership, built community

‘An amazing man, business person and community leader,’ friend Bruce Hayne posted to Facebook

COVID-19: Daily update on the pandemic in Surrey, White Rock, Delta and beyond

MARCH 28: Delta council passes bylaw to fine people who don’t socially distance

White Rock council members stand by decision to close pier

Minimal push-back over closure to minimize chance of spreading COVID-19 virus

B.C. is seeing the highest rate of COVID-19 recovery in Canada, and there’s a few reasons why

British Columbia was one of the first to see rise in COVID-19 cases, and has also switched up testing

B.C. Ferries passengers staying away, as asked, during COVID-19 pandemic

Ferry corporation says ridership down 70-80 per cent over the last week and a half

Sewers stitch masks to free up supplies for front-line health-care workers

“We have little old ladies sewing up a storm,” said Joan Davis

Experts weigh in on best handling of groceries during COVID-19 pandemic

Study suggests the virus can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic

COVID-19 world update: Enforceable quarantine in NYC?; France orders 1 billion masks

Spain warns EU’s future at stake; New York governor calls Trump’s idea ‘federal declaration of war

Blue ribbons popping up along streets in Abbotsford in praise of B.C. healthcare workers

Healthcare worker’s family starts local trend of morale support

Earth Hour 2020 kicks off online Saturday night

Action moves online due to COVID-19

B.C. COVID-19 cases rise 92 to 884, one more death, 81 in care

Outbreak action underway in 12 long-term care homes

B.C. veterinarians want to smooth the fur of COVID-19-worried pet owners

Vets expect to continue giving your fur buddies the help they need while social distancing

Most Read