Exactly is a Pumpkin?
Description of a Pumpkin:
are annuals and are related to such common crops as cucumbers,
gourds and winter squashes, which come from the genus Cucurbita.
This is a genus that grows typically on vines. Pumpkins prefer
warm temperatures above 70 degrees during the day and no lower
than 60 degrees at night. Pumpkins typically mature and give
fruit within 90 to 120 days of being planted.
are actually four species of Cucurbita found in North America,
which can be distinguished through differences in their stems.
The species that includes typical Jack O’Lantern style
pumpkins, Cucurbita pepo, also includes Acorn Squash, Scallop
Summer Squash, Crookneck squash, and spaghetti squashes. Cucurbita
maxima includes many of the yellow winter squashes, and yellowish-tinted
pumpkins. Examples of Cucurbita maxima include Big Max Pumpkin,
Buttercup Squash, Turban Squash, and Mammoth. Some of the largest
pumpkins are found in this species. Pumpkins found within Cucurbita
moshata are mostly associated with canning pumpkins. Many winter
squashes are from this species as well, such as Butternut and
Winter Crookneck squash. Cucurbita mixta is often considered
a subgroup of Cucurbita moshata and is used as a processing
Pumpkins can also be described by how they grow. There are vining
pumpkins, semi-bush pumpkins, bush pumpkins, and miniature pumpkins.
site from Purdue University has tons of information
on pumpkins plus growing tips.
Varieties of Pumpkins:
are lots of options out there for the pumpkin gardener. You
can focus on growing giant pumpkins, pumpkins that are known
for their flavor, or you can grow a big crop of Jack O’Lantern
style pumpkins for Halloween. There are also miniature pumpkins
that make excellent ornaments for both Thanksgiving and Halloween.
You can even try your hand at growing one of the unusual varieties
of pumpkins such as a red, white or blue pumpkin!
of the largest varieties of pumpkins for the home garden include
Big Max, Big Moon PVP, Prizewinner, Atlantic Giant, Gold Rush
PVP, Jumpin’ Jack and Mammoth Gold. These pumpkins may
grow to be over 100 pounds!
you’re looking to grow pumpkins for baking or cooking,
you might want to try a few of the following varieties: Peek
a Boo, Sugar Treat, Dickinson Field, Baby Pam, Triple Treat,
Kentucky Field, Buckskin (a hybrid), and Chelsey (also a hybrid).
The reason that these kinds of pumpkins are good for cooking
is because they are meatier and have less stringy fibers than
carving pumpkins. These pumpkins also have a better flavor and
are smaller than carving pumpkins.
Pumpkins that are suitable for Jack O’Lanterns come in
a variety of sizes. Small pumpkin varieties (around 5 pounds)
for carving include Winter Luxury, Spooktacular, Trickster,
Sugar Treat, Baby Bear, Spookie, and Triple Treat. For medium
to large pumpkins up to 25 pounds, try Autumn Gold, Frosty,
Jack-o-Lantern, Harvest Moon, Aspen, Howden Field (one of the
most popular), Trick or Treat, or Connecticut Field. Connecticut
Field is a variety that also makes a good canning pumpkin. Trick
or Treat, and Winter Luxury are nice varieties for both decorating
and for cooking. Connecticut Field, Spirit Hybrid and Autumn
Gold are great pumpkins with deep orange color that can be used
for carving and pumpkin pies.
Miniature pumpkins are a wonderful way to grow pumpkins that
won’t take up too much space. These pumpkins are suitable
for decorative purposes throughout the fall. Try out Baby Bear,
Jack-Be-Little, Munchkin, Sweetie Pie, and Jack-Be-Quick. Baby
Boo is a beautiful white miniature variety.
For the adventurous gardener, there are several varieties of
unusual pumpkins. White pumpkins are quite popular and you can
try out Lumina, White Ghost, Casper, or Snowball. Lumina has
a unique flavor and is also a good carving pumpkin. If you’re
looking for something more unusual, Red Warty and Cinderella
pumpkins provide a reddish color and unusual texture. Both these
varieties are good for cooking. Believe it or not, there is
actually a blue pumpkin out there called Blue Lakota. It is
a light blue/grey color. Other unusual varieties include the
Japanese Pumpkin, or Kabocha, and the Lil Pump Ke Mon, which
is a miniature white pumpkin with green and orange stripes.
this site from the University
of Illinois for more pumpkin varieties.
Pumpkin Mating Habits:
produce both male and female flowers on the same plant. It’s
interesting to note that the first flowers you see on your pumpkin
are male, and bloom and die within a very short period of time.
The male flowers serve to attract pollinators such as bees.
the male flowers have died off, they are replaced by the female
flowers. By the time the female flowers appear, pollinators
know where to look for the blossoms and return with the male
pollen to the female blossoms. To identify the male flowers,
look at the base of the stems. If there is no bulging present
at the flower base, they are the male blossoms.
of the genus Cucurbita can indeed cross-pollinate, but generally
within the same species. For example, a Butternut and a Turban
Squash could cross-pollinate as they are both from the species
Cucurbita maxima. If you have several varieties of pumpkins
from the same species, this cross-pollination will not produce
unusual varieties during the same growing season. However, if
you keep the seeds for planting next year, you might see some
strange colors and shapes the next growing season.
2005 Pumpkin Growing Tips. All Rights Reserved.
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