- Author: Christina Ruark
As we enter into the season of Pumpkin Spice Lattes, once commonly referred to as Fall, it got me thinking of pumpkins. Then I started to wonder ‘where did pumpkins originate from?' Scientists believe pumpkins originated in North America about 9,000 years ago. The oldest pumpkin seed to date was discovered in Mexico and is believed to date back somewhere between 7000-5500 B.C. Pumpkins and other types of squash have long been an important food source for Natives of North America. Every single part of a pumpkin is edible: the skin, leaves, flowers, pulp, seeds, and stems. Made up of 92% water, this fruit is hydrating as well as packed with Vitamin A and beta-Carotene.
Pumpkins are sensitive to the cold. They are a warm-weather crop. To have pumpkins for Halloween, look at the seed packet for how many days to harvest. Count backward from a week or so before Halloween to know when to sow the seeds. Soil with poor water retention or poorly drained soils is both detrimental. Pumpkins are, however, rather hardy, and even if many leaves and portions of the vine are removed or damaged, the plant can quickly grow secondary vines to replace what was removed. If storing, place the pumpkins in the sun for a week. You can place either outdoors or in a greenhouse, to harden (or cure) the skins. This method helps to ensure they keep well. Depending on the variety, pumpkins should keep for at least three months and up to six months in ideal conditions.
Growing up, the way I ate pumpkins was pumpkin pie, and that was during the holiday season. Nowadays pumpkins have endless culinary options: roasted side dishes, soups, warm salads, smoothies, bread, stuffing, ice cream, purée, roasted seeds, and more. They make excellent holiday decorations for Halloween and Thanksgiving. This might be one of the most versatile fruits to grow, in my opinion. So this Fall, I hope you can take advantage of all the wonderful ways to enjoy pumpkins.