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About pumpkins

The pumpkin is unique to the Americas. And before Columbus discovered America, it wasn't known in Europe.
The pumpkin as we know it evolved from a gourdlike vegetable.
The Native North Americans introduced the pumpkin to the early European settlers who appreachiated the fruits good storage value during winter and nutrition.

The pumpkin is actually a fruit and belongs to the family Cucurbitaceae, consisting of 90 genera and 700 species.
This family includes cucumbers, melons, squash and gourds.
The pumpkin genus is Cucurbita, which includes all varieties of pumpkin, gourd, and winter and summer squash.

There are 4 types of pumpkin:
* Curcubita pepo: exists in all sizes and shapes and are the traditional pumpkins of the Northeast (US).
Examples: Baby Boo, Spooktacular, Aspen, Casper, Connecticut Field, Howden, Jack-O-Lantern, ...
* Curcubita moschata: These are also called 'Cheese' pumpkins because they're round and flat like a wheel of cheese. They grow best in a warm, humid climate.
Examples: Long Island Cheese, Musquée de Provence, Waltham Butternut, ...
* Curcubita argyrosperma: The 'Green striped Cushaw' does well in a warm, dry climate like the US Southwest. Examples: White Cushaw, Green Striped Cushaw, ...
* Curcubita maxima: They tolerate cold, wet weather and are mostly big pumpkins.
Examples: Rouge Vif d'Etampes, Lumina, Dill's Atlantic Giant, Queensland Blue, Blue Hubbard, ...
'Aspen' 'Lumina' 'Rouge Vif d'Etampes'

Pumpkins are among the easiest vegetables to start from seed.
They are a long-season crop, usually requiring 90 to 120 growing days.
They also require warmth to grow. The ideal daytime temperature for growing pumpkins is 80° to 85°F (27°-29°C). They are extremely frost-tender.
They should be planted outside (you can best start them indoors in pots) when all danger of frost has passed and the soil is suitably warm.
They like a sunny spot, plenty of space (except for bush-forming species), a rich, well-drained soil (they are heavy feeders and require that the soil never dries out) and preferably protected from wind.
'Queensland Blue' 'Green Striped Cushaw' 'Atlantic Giant'

Pumpkins must be harvested before the fall's first frost.
As harvest time approaches, pinch out plant leaders and flowers, and remove small green fruits that have no chance of ripening before frost hits. This will channel the vine's energy into improving the size and vigor of the remaining pumpkins.

Harvest pumpkins with at at least 2 inches (5 cm) of stem. Don't break them from the vine, which can damage the fruit.

Adapted from the book "The Perfect Pumpkin" by Gail Damerow.
An excellent book with all the information about pumpkins: growing, harvesting, carving projects, recipes, tips, ...


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