Pumpkins: Just the Facts, Ma’am

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Pumpkins are so entrenched in our North American culture this time of year, that it’s easy to forget they’re not equally popular the world over.  They’re native to Central America and Mexico, but they’ve been grown in North America for five thousand years.

Bob's Pumpkin Farm, Half Moon Bay

Bob’s Pumpkin Farm, Half Moon Bay

Pilgrims learned to cultivate, grow and store pumpkins from the Native Americans.  Without them, they would have starved in those early 1600s winters. Pumpkin pie is traditionally served  at the Thanksgiving meal.  It’s easy to forget what a significant role it played in the early Pilgrim’s lives.

White pumpkin with flowers

Thanksgiving flower arrangement

We have a number of pumpkin festivals and pumpkin “patches” in our community.  We attended many of them when our boys were young, and were sorry when a few closed to make room for development.

The immensely popular Half Moon Bay Pumpkin Festival, dubbed the World Pumpkin Capital celebrates 42 years in 2012. The festival highlight for those of us serious about pumpkins, is the great pumpkin weigh-off.  Last year’s winning pumpkin tipped the scales at a mind-boggling 1,704 pounds. Unfortunately, the festival has grown so popular that it can take upwards of an hour to get to the center of town.  We joined friends for an off weekend last year, so we could drive through Half Moon Bay and along the beautiful coast, while avoiding the traffic nightmare.

Bob's Pumpkin Farm

Lifting Weights at Bob’s Pumpkin Farm

I dream of growing our own “Atlantic Giant,” out back, but lack the stamina and will power of the serious growers. It’s fun to read about the efforts the hard-core growers employ, and to see the amazing results.  It was quite the thrill growing a 62 pound beauty this year.

I can’t wait to see what the seeds and flesh are like inside.  My husband lovingly carves our pumpkins year after year.  We dry and store seeds for the following season and the cycle begins anew.

assorted pumpkins

2011 Pumpkin Crop

Pumpkin Facts

  • Pumpkins are a member of the gourd family, which includes cucumbers, honeydew melons, cantaloupe, watermelons and zucchini.
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever baked was in 2005 and weighed 2,020 pounds.
  •  In 1584, after French explorer Jacques Cartier explored the St. Lawrence region of North America, he reported finding “gros melons.” The name was translated into English as “pompions,” which has since evolved into the modern “pumpkin.”
  • Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron.
  • The heaviest pumpkin weighed 1,810 lb 8 oz and was presented by Chris Stevens at the Stillwater Harvest Fest in Stillwater, Minnesota, in October 2010.
  • Pumpkin seeds should be planted between the last week of May and the middle of June. They take between 90 and 120 days to grow and are picked in October when they are bright orange in color. Their seeds can be saved to grow new pumpkins the next year.

 U.S. Census Bureau and the Guinness Book of World Records

Resources:

Halloween Countdown

Pumpkins and Flowers

Pumpkins and Flowers

24 thoughts on “Pumpkins: Just the Facts, Ma’am

  1. It’s stunning to see so many pumpkins in one place. We don’t seem to have a spot like that to go to unfortunately, probably because of the growing season being shorter here. I would imagine most at the markets come from southern locations. I like how you included a slide show with other photo’s, I couldn’t figure that out on WordPress. You’re so savy Alys. That’s a great photo of you too, looks like you were having so much fun. There’s a giant corn maze near Edmonton, being a long weekend it’ll be bananas so we’re going early! Hope your day is fabulous too!

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    • Did you get any photos of the corn maze? That sounds like fun. We used to go in a small, hay-bale maze when the boys were young. I miss some of those young at heart activities.

      As for the slideshow, I just learned how to do it this week, based on a WordPress email. Let me find it if I can and I’ll send it to you.

      Good luck on Thursday.

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      • I did get some pictures at the maze, I need to write a post because it was so fun. I have a number of emails to get through, I probably haven’t read that one yet. Thanks for the good wishes, fingers crossed…breaking even would be fine with me this week.

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        • Breaking even is good, too. I gained…:-( I’m feeling pretty low about it. I was so good at tracking the first half of the week and did a ton of exercise too. She said I could be retaining water…blah, blah, blah. I’ve heard that before, but since I didn’t feel like I was…who knows. My clothes were heavier: last week, thin cotton dress, this week cotton pants and a shirt. Still…I gained over a pound.

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  2. You are so tech savy to do the photo slide show. There is so much I still need to learn about this blogging thing. I just unpacked 6 large cans of pumpkin that has been in storage for a year. I used to give my dog a spoonful every day for her tummy. The vet said it was good for them. Since my Schatzie is gone over a year now, it will have to become pumpkin bread for the holidays. I give loaves of it to the UPS, FEDEX and mailman during the holidays to thank them for all the extra hard work they have to put in. When I get a yard again, I’d love to try growing them. You inspire me in so many ways. Thanks.

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    • You are so kind to say so! Thanks you! (hug,hug, hug).

      My friend, Jayne, used to cook pumpkin for her dogs. They loved it, too. I didn’t know it was good for them, but I knew it was a favorite.

      Those lucky UPS/FedEx/Mail carriers. How thoughtful of you to bake for them. You have a good heart.

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